For Bright Ideas and Actions, Let's Look to San Antonio

Despite the protestations of APS and ATF leadership, school leaders of Hawthorne, Los Padillas, and Whittier (all three designated for improvement by the state) are encouraged by the extra attention and support they've received as a result of improvement process, according to a recent Journal article.

With Hawthorne and Los Padillas improving from Fs to Cs, the proof is in the pudding. Even Whittier, with its seventh consecutive F, is eager to demonstrate progress made. Ultimately, our families, teachers, and students are the most important beneficiaries.

While the APS Board, Ellen Bernstein, and Sen. Mimi Stewart (chair of the LESC) have bemoaned any attempt to disrupt their kingdom of mediocrity, we can be sure they'll be the first to claim credit for what is hopefully continued improvement at these three schools. I don't care who gets credit. What's most important is that we continue to the disrupt patterns of dysfunction that've plagued education here far before PARCC, NMTeach, or school grades.

Where is New Mexico's bold leadership to set a new vision for what's possible in public education? Current leaders are so inundated in broken systems of their own design that they instinctually mouth "we can't" to any new idea. As I've written before, these folks have four problems for every solution. Instead, they say, hand them a fistful of dollars and trust (but don't verify) that they will do right by our children. It's worked "great" so far, eh?

This morning I read of the work San Antonio is doing to ensure all schools are high-performing and diverse-by-design. Led by a visionary superintendent (who I've interviewed before) with a staff laser-focused on equity and excellence, SAISD is rewriting the script for its historically disenfranchised communities.


Instead of beating families over their heads for being low-income or Hispanic, they've embraced those inherent assets and challenges, then taken ownership of their actions and results. Not that they've been without internal challenges. But, instead of merely talk, talk, talking about diversity, cultural responsiveness, or academic rigor, SAISD is doing something about it. We should take a page out of their playbook.


New Mexico needs a changing of the guard when it comes to education. Too many of those shouting the loudest don't represent the generation, race/ethnicity, socioeconomics, or even best interests of our communities. Instead of doing the hard work of change leadership, they settle for cheap political points and simplistic quips to the press. Let's keep the pressure up for them to do better - or step aside.