APS Board Chair Martin Esquivel claims that we at the Rio Grande Foundation are all wrong about APS and that the school district is doing a great job. He also claims that the district’s buildings shouldn’t count as money spent per-pupil by the district. Sure, capital spending and annual appropriations are taken out of two different pots, but the fact is that money is money and in the real world, those dollars must be considered as part of what APS spends per pupil.
Esquivel does make one accurate claim and that is that the district must accept all kids that show up on their doorstep. Having disruptive “students” in the classroom is undoubtedly a problem for teachers in the classroom, but there are plenty of things APS could do differently and better. For starters, he should rent himself a copy of “Waiting for Superman” as I did this weekend. Esquivel could see in that movie how impoverished inner-city kids can learn and graduate at rates exceeding 90 percent. Compare that with APS where 23 of the 34 high schools are considered “dropout factories.”
Of course Esquivel does not mention exactly what APS’s graduation rate is, but according to the best information I have from the “Diplomas Count 2010,” New Mexico’s state graduation rate is 54.9%. I find it hard to believe that APS’s real graduation rate is much better.
Oh, and one important thing to note is that APS alone is not at fault. The federal government, state government, local school boards, teacher unions, and yes, even parents, all have a role to play in the ongoing failure. The problem is that the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. Esquivel clearly doesn’t think APS needs to change and improve.