A new year fast approaches. Before jumping headlong into 2018, I asked educators from around the state to share their biggest wishes for 2018. I also asked them to transcend the well worn battle lines and think with optimism. The views shared below are as diverse as New Mexico's people, which is only appropriate. For us to move forward we must operate as a collective willing to conduct the long, hard work of modernizing our education system.
Here are my own wishes for education in New Mexico in 2018:
The world at large is changing at an unprecedented pace and New Mexico’s education system hasn’t kept up. Whenever I’m in classrooms I’m struck by how little has changed since my time as a student 30 years ago. It is time for us to move forward, together. Despite many great people and programs, far too many students in New Mexico remain uninspired by school and unprepared for productive civic life. We need our children to be lifelong learners who pursue extraordinary paths. We must prepare them at each step along the way to become meaningful contributors to our society and economy. Our young people need a diversity of world class learning experiences so they may develop intelligence, confidence, common sense, and direction.
Leanna Kiksuyapi Dawn - Educator at Kha’p’o Community School at Santa Clara Pueblo
Increasing visibility of Indigenous nations’ sovereignty is integral to reforming the education of our youth. Traditions of oral expression provide Indigenous students the opportunity to understand ancestral and community stories, and as a result, strengthens their identities. By considering the intersection of political and personal sovereignty, storytelling fosters Indigenous students’ self-examination and validation. While the role of educating Indigenous youth is complex, providing Indigenous students with the ability to self-create, self-share, and self-control their stories allows students to explore Indigenous sovereignty. This approach follows the wisdom of our ancestors and can be utilized more frequently in the educational landscape of our Indigenous youth.
Mike Hyatt - Superintendent of Gallup-McKinley County Schools
Although I believe there is room for improvement with funding equity and sufficiency in New Mexico’s public schools, I highly value the innovation and opportunities we have as educators in changing student outcomes in 2018. Funding plays a part in all our efforts, but I value the educators, schools and districts making tremendous gains in a complicated financial environment. Therefore, I look forward to further collaboration and partnerships as a pathway to improve education for our New Mexico students. We as educators need to stay focused this coming year on what we can accomplish while navigating our barriers in a productive and conscientious way
Hope Morales - State Policy Director at Teach Plus New Mexico
My wish for 2018 is to create a new norm of collaboration among educational stakeholders. Teachers are the single most important part of a child's education at school. Great teachers need to be invited to the table when important educational decisions are made. Educators share a unique perspective and experience that can contribute to ideas that are focused on students. Too often teachers are missing from the audience and the conversation, because they are teaching. A high-quality education requires planning and problem solving at every level. As these crucials conversations and debates occur, great teachers need to be part of the New Mexico team because teacher voice is powerful and essential.
Carmie Toulouse - Public Education Commissioner from Albuquerque
As a mother and grandmother I have watched the shifting scene of education delivery in New Mexico for over 40 years (well over 60 if you include my own personal experiences and those of my sisters and cousins). I am disturbed by today's over emphasis on data-driven results. A child is not a data point. Every child has interests and abilities that should be treated with respect and cultivated and that make the child unique. Instead, we emphasize reading and mathematics. While the ability to read and understand what is read is necessary for modern success, that plus an ability to do complex mathematical calculations, does not produce a well-rounded adult. We need to again make room for the arts & humanities in today's curriculum.
Lane Towery - Co-Founder of Six Directions Indigenous School in Gallup
With a gubernatorial election, 2018 will be a transitional year for New Mexico education. My wish for 2018 is responsible transition. Despite having some concern with past reforms, I ask us to proceed from what exists. Today, New Mexico has unprecedented access to information about the performance of its students. This evidence is critical for ensuring equity. My hope now is for greater empathy with the data and its human constituents. My call is for a transition from assessment for the sake of “accountability” towards an effort to support diverse schools’, teachers', students’ success.