Bill Clinton and teacher unions agree: end social promotion

From listening to the concerns of New Mexico legislators who are dedicated to preserving our state’s 49th ranking in K-12 education, one might think that Gov. Martinez’s plan to end social promotion was part of a harsh right-wing agenda to keep kids trapped in 3rd grade. Nothing could be further from the truth and it is not just conservative Republicans (and the Rio Grande Foundation) that support ending social promotion (the term is used to describe the promotion of students from grade to grade regardless of material mastery).

How about that noted right-winger, former President Clinton? In the introduction to this report, he said “I have fought for excellence, competition, and accountability in our nation’s public schools, with more parental involvement, greater choice, better teaching, and an end to social promotion.”

And then there is the American Federation of Teachers which said in a union-published report, Passing on Failure: District Promotion Policies and Practices:

The practice of social promotion contributes to the very problems that can make it seem necessary. Promotion, in the absence of satisfactory academic performance, perpetuates academic failure by teaching students that effort and achievement are not important and that objective standards can not and will not be enforced. It forces classroom teachers to deal with an impossibly wide range of student knowledge, background, and readiness. And it denies students both the classroom and remedial resources that could help them reverse the pattern of academic failure.

Eliminating social promotion would seem like a “no-brainer,” but lack of brains is one reason why we have performed so poorly as a state for so long. Failing our kids is unacceptable. The special legislation provides a great opportunity for the Legislature to move our state a step closer to educational success.