Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stimulus funds for education

I attended a Legislative Education Study Committee public meetings today.
One of the presenters was discussing how the approximately $64 million of federal stimulus for education could be spent.

At the end of the presentation, a committee members wanted to know where those funds came from, given the huge deficit, and how they would be paid for.

Other presentations occured, questions were asked and sometimes answered. Shortly before adjourning the committe for the day Rep. Rick Miera made a great point "We get federal funds for Los Alamos and Sandia and everybody applauds it, we get funds for education and people want to know how they will be paid for."

Well said Representative Miera.

Here is a piece I wrote on education for NM FBIHOP

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Susana Martinez lacks leadership skills

Even during the primaries before she became the GOP nominee for governor, I was not impressed by Martinez. As time goes on, I'm truly starting to wonder about her, below is a piece I wrote for New Mexico FBIHOP in which I questioned her leadership skills, after she announced her "bold" plan for education reform in New Mexico.

Today on twitter "Proud to announce support of educators from NM", I went to her website to see who had endorsed her. All individual names numbering about 70.

So her tweet was truthful, yet seems desperate. Her Democatic opponent Lt. Governor Diane Denish, has been endorsed by both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and by the National Education Association (NEA).

I don't know what the New Mexico membership in the 2 groups is, but Albuquerque Public Schools alone has 14,000 employees. 70 individuals represent .5% of that.

While she may not have sent that tweet herself, presumably she hired the person that controls the account. One of the signs of a good manager is hiring people that have the knowledge to do the job well. Yet once again Susana fails.

The devil is in the details Susana

Susana Martinez, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, unveiled her education plan Wednesday and it doesn't look good. There are several flaws with the plan as presented. Most importantly it shows Martinez’s ignorance, both in educational practice and in understanding how education is funded.

In what is becoming customary fashion for her campaign, the plan also fails to provide details of how the changes would be implemented and/or funded.

Many of her proposed solutions are neither “bold” nor new such as teacher merit pay, additional training for teachers, teacher developed curriculum, after hours tutoring, summer school, and reading proficiency by the end of third grade. She does seem to have a knack for appropriating other’s ideas and presenting them as her own.

Those that are somewhat novel and not already being considered by the Public Education Department (PED) apparently for good reasons are:

“Increasing testing to three times per year” – This would take additional days away from teaching/learning, and result in additional costs for schools.

“New Mexico should provide tax credits to individuals and corporations who contribute to non-profit organizations that provide scholarships…” – This is a thinly disguised voucher program, it would result in a dollar for dollar tax revenue loss to the state’s general fund, of which roughly 45% goes to finance K-12 public schools.

Matt wrote about the voucher issue yesterday.

At the news conference announcing her latest “bold” plan Martinez said: “I would not take any money from the schools. I would not take any tax dollars from the schools to place it into private schools”. Actually she would, since the school funding formula is based on number of students.

With all of her proposed scholarship ideas Martinez demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of the function of public schools, or existing and proposed educational practice.

At her press conference during the question and answer session a reporter asked Martinez directly if she had worked with teachers or the teachers union in developing her plan. Martinez replied that she had not.

Maybe she should try talking to them.

Educational practice is a complex field, I do not understand many of the details, nor would I expect Martinez to. But as someone aspiring to become chief executive of our state, one can expect at least a grasp of what is currently in place and certainly the financial implications of any proposed policies.

Disclosure: I sit on the Governing Council of an Albuquerque charter school, so education is a subject dear to me. And for those that may not know, charter schools are public schools.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

California Proposition 8 ruled unconstitutional

Congratulations to my gay and lesbian friends, in this step towards gaining their full human rights!

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker made his ruling public this afternoon, one of the main points from his 136 page ruling was:

"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples,"

The proponents will pursue their appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued the following statement after the ruling:

“Judge Walker had the great responsibility of deciding whether Proposition 8 violates the Constitution of the United States. He heard in-depth arguments from both sides on fundamental questions of due process, equal protection and freedom from discrimination. There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, and I am glad that all viewpoints were respected throughout the proceedings. We should also recognize that there will continue to be different points of view in the wake of this decision.

“For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for all Californians to consider our history of leading the way to the future, and our growing reputation of treating all people and their relationships with equal respect and dignity.

“Today's decision is by no means California's first milestone, nor our last, on America's road to equality and freedom for all people.”