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.

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