In New Mexico education, where ISN’T the fire?

Given the recent fire season, I think it is totally appropriate to allow localities to ban fireworks within their borders. Legislation along these lines is going to be considered in the upcoming special legislative session.

Of course, we also know that our schools are failing, so it is hard to find fault with the Gov’s recent decision to place a ban on 3rd grade social promotion on the “call” for the upcoming session. This wouldn’t have been necessary if Majority Leader Michael Sanchez had allowed the bill to go to the floor during the 2011 regular session, but that is another story.

The success of our kids in the classroom is at least as important as a fireworks ban, right?

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6 Replies to “In New Mexico education, where ISN’T the fire?”

    Franklin P.Schargel

    I live in the 49th lowest school performing state in the country. I am not proud of it. It is simply an admission of fact. No Child Left Behind has raised the achievement bar higher and will continue to do so until December 31, 2014. The New Mexico Secretary of Education and many of the New Mexico’s School Superintendents say that it is unfair to compare last year’s scores to this year. And while that may be true, no matter how you look at it, New Mexico was near the bottom of states achieving Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) last year and we are near the bottom again.
    The data from the New Mexico Department of Education paints an even gloomier picture for New Mexico’s future. Last year 23% of New Mexico schools made AYP. This year only 13.4% made it. While only 13.4% of schools this year reached AYP, only 8.2% of elementary schools made it, 6.3% of middle schools made it and 17.8% of high schools made it.
    All schools need to be held accountable for what they achieve and what they fail to achieve. Schools have a responsibility to educate all children. Tennessee has lowered the number of its “dropout factories” (those schools where less than 60% graduate) from 63 schools in 2002 to 24 in 2009 (a 62% drop) while New Mexico has lowered the number of its dropout factories from 27 in 2002 to 24 in 2009 (11%). President Obama, US Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, our Governor and New Mexico Secretary of Education say that all schools should be globally competitive. New Mexico’s schools are not even nationally competitive. That is the bad news; the really bad news is we are now behind Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana regarding graduation rates. “We used to say, “Thank God for Alabama”. Alabamans are saying, “Thank God for New Mexico.”

    According to the Alliance for Excellent Education:
    If Albuquerque schools cut in half the 6,200 students who dropped out of school in the 2008 graduating class, there would be an increase of:
    $38 M in earnings
    $26M in spending
    $9 M in investing
    $87 M in home sales
    $3 M in Car Sales
    300 new jobs
    $5M in Increased tax revenue.

    In addition to ruining the lives of the children and their families, the low performing schools are ruining the economy of our state. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, the dropouts from the class of 2008 will cost New Mexico almost 3.6 billion in lost wages in their lifetimes. We cannot attract industry to a state with a low graduation rate and a low AYP score.
    Why have China and India been successful? The have a laser-like focus on improving their educational systems. They realize that great schools make great nations.
    What I fail to understand is the lack of rage from our business leaders, education leaders, the Governor, Albuquerque’s Mayor, the Chamber of Commerce, and the parents. Why aren’t people upset?
    Where is the rage from the government officials having spent 46% of the state budget and getting such poor return on investment?

    Where is the rage from the Chambers of Commerce over not having major industry coming to New Mexico because our schools are performing so poorly compared to other states?

    Where is the rage from our voters over wasted tax revenues?

    Where is the rage from the teacher unions for having their members working in such a dysfunctional system?

    Where is the rage from parents over the dropout figures?


    Mr. Schargel is a former classroom teacher, school counselor, and school administrator. He is an author of eleven books dealing with school reform and has delivered workshops in 49 states and 9 foreign countries. His website, is copyright free. His phone number is 505/823-2339.

  2. NM almost had this fixed in 2002. Johnson vetoed a bill because he had an “agreement” for APS to study privatization instead of mandating it. Never happened.

    Publication: Albuquerque Journal
    Date: 03/06/2002
    Edition: Final
    Page: A1
    Word Count: 523 word
    Keywords: Schools
    Headline: APS May Privatize Failing Schools
    Byline: By David Miles And Andrea Schoellkopf Journal Staff Writers

    Deal Gets Governor To Veto District Split

    SANTA FE Gov. Gary Johnson on Tuesday vetoed a bill aimed at breaking up the Albuquerque Public Schools district after the APS board agreed to consider hiring private companies to manage failing schools.
    Johnson last week threatened to sign the bill, but on Tuesday said board President Leonard DeLayo had pledged the board’s support for getting proposals from private companies to manage some APS schools.
    “The response was, ‘We’ll give you this innovation,’ ” Johnson said. “I see this as a win by veto.”
    DeLayo told the Journal on Tuesday he had found support for the bid process through informal conversations with five of the board’s other six members.
    DeLayo acknowledged that he pledged the board’s support to seek proposals, but he said that doesn’t necessarily mean private companies will get to run the schools.
    “Maybe that’s the way to get the information we need to see if it’s a viable alternative,” DeLayo said.
    House Majority Whip James Taylor, an Albuquerque Democrat who sponsored the bill, said he opposed having private companies manage public schools.
    “It’s disappointing that the governor would utilize an issue as important as this to push his privatization of public schools issue,” Taylor said.
    Taylor, a 1984 graduate of Rio Grande High School, has said splitting the district would give parents more say in their children’s education. The break-up legislation, as amended, would have allowed voters in the district to decide whether to split the district into at least three smaller ones.
    APS has 23 schools on probation with the state, 17 of which could be taken over by the state in the next two years if they don’t show improvement.
    DeLayo said the APS board will discuss the bid proposal next month. He also said he envisions private companies competing against APS to run failing schools.
    “Let the school community pick the one they feel would be more appropriate,” he said.
    Jeff McCoy, senior vice president for development for the New York-based Edison Schools, said his company is interested in making a bid.
    Board member Dolores Herrera, who recently traveled to New York City with Rio Grande High School delegates to see Edison schools, said she supports the potential privatization of the failing schools.
    “Education is going to have to be innovative,” she said.
    Johnson said he hopes the bid proposal would allow private companies to run a few failing schools for five years.
    The governor said he envisioned APS comparing student achievement in the schools under private management with performance at APS charter and traditional schools.
    Johnson said he would not approve the bill because he believed it would cost more to operate smaller districts. The governor said the split would lead to a “theoretical tripling of the bureaucracy.”
    Taylor said breaking up APS would eliminate much unnecessary bureaucracy. “Overall, you’d see a cost savings.”
    Under the bill, any school district with more than 35,000 students would have been required to hold an election in February 2004 on whether to divide into smaller districts. APS, which had 85,276 students in the past school year, would have been the only district affected.

  3. A ban on third grade social promotion could greatly improve education in New Mexico. One of the many problems teachers face in most school districts is the policy of not ability grouping. This means that in any given classroom a wide range of reading and math levels are represented making it extremely difficult for teachers to teach and students to learn. If students were not allowed to be “passed on,” the range of abilties present in a classroom would be smaller and could greatly increase outcomes.

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