I hear a lot of things about Ms. Skandera. I'm a teacher, so my opinion can likely be assumed. Given that, I would still like to hear from everyone what they think about both her and the recent reform efforts proposed by both Ms. Skandera and Gov. Martinez. 

While I may respond, I will always strive to do so civilly. Comparable consideration will always be respected. 

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Your conclusions bear serious consideration. If Ms. Skandera and Gov. Martinez support merit pay for teachers, then such should roll up hill to both of them. What argument exists to oppose such? 

As for tax penalties, that makes incredible sense. I would go further and give parents whose  children test advanced be given a tax deduction. Why not? 

Merit based pay is not an ideological thing or some hair brained idea from a politician. It's reality in the world, often the public sector is protected from it (yes by unions) and notoriously have nice long careers with early retirements. Merit based pay / performance measurements should exist in every single job in the public sector, including the PED. I completely agree with your assessment that it should, Skandera should be graded on the State's education performance as a whole (which would mean she's getting fired).

I disagree with tax breaks for "advanced students", as a teacher you know how much genetics and biology has to do with being "advanced". It's not as if every kid with an active parent has a gifted student. Subjectivity should not be part of deciding who get's tax breaks. Especially when, technically, gifted students may receive special ed funding and cost more to teach. 

I'm interested in your opinion on private / charter / satellite vs. public. I don't think there is any debate that most kids receive a better education in a private / charter environment. I realize from personal experience, that anyone with a disability, that would generally qualify for SP ED, is better served in a public environment. My question is, why would your average student fair better in an environment that costs anywhere between 10-30% less, per student, to facilitate? Why does the ATF / NEA oppose Charter expansion and school choice? 

I'm very interested to see evidence that students receive a better education in charter schools. With a couple of exceptions (Amy Biehl springs to mind), the charter schools in APS are not noted for the success of their students.

Private schools are very different entities than charter schools and it's inappropriate to lump them together, both in terms of the quality of education they provide and the resources they have for facilities, salaries, etc. Private schools cater primarily to a demographic whose environmental (family, economic, etc.) advantages are pronounced.

I'm not sure where your 10-30% less numbers are coming from either--are you referring to charter schools (you must be, as private schools are at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of costs)? What sources do you have for your assertions? (I think someone already addressed the problems with charters earlier in the thread? I'll have to read back through it.)

I'm very much out of step with the majority of my peers where merit pay is concerned. I really don't have a problem with it for pretty much the reasons you stated. The problem in education is that it's introduced using faulty measures, specifically a standardized test. Just with a manufacturing quality test, the only thing revealed by such is that something is either right or wrong. In no way can such tests identify what that something is. One more very important point. Teachers by and large are not motivated by money. We are an extraordinarily weird bunch where that's concerned. Be honest here, if money were a motivator would any of us have become a teacher? No. I was even offered a 6 figure salary by a head hunter, and I turned it down. I am not unusual in that. 

As for tax breaks for "advanced students", you're absolutely right.You also point out one of the biggest crimes committed by standardized testing. That is the fact that every child, regardless of ability, is required to take their grade level test. Consequently, children who can only read at the 3rd grade level but who are in the 7th grade are mandated to take the 7th grade test. Oddly enough, these same children can have all portions of the test read to them EXCEPT the reading portion. Furthermore, while English Language Learners (ELL) can be exempted from the reading portion of the test, they are still required to take the math portion. At face value that makes sense since math is a universal concept. However, the questions that are worth the most points are story problems. How can a child who is not sufficiently competent enough to take the reading portion be expected to pass the math portion? 

If we actually tested children based on their academic abilities instead of their age peer group, the results would look a whole lot different. Also, the tax break idea would work. 

As for private/charter/satellite (PCS) schools, I have no problem with them. They absolutely have a very important place in the education system. I have and will continue to refer students to charter schools where there's a better fit. As for the cost issue, that's very simple. When you can pick who attends your school, you will ultimately spend less because you can perfectly streamline the school's process. Every PCS school can kick out any child that doesn't "fit", and being able to do that ultimately saves you money. On the other hand, every public school is federally required to accept every child. Added to that the fact that the neighborhood school has zero control over the curriculum (such is dictated by district bureaucrats) and the end result is that huge sums of money gets wasted to produce very little. 

I have lobbied my state legislators to pass a law that requires all pedagogical decisions be made locally at the school level. Allowing that would enable public schools to fit the curriculum to the children. That would obviously result in greater success. Would it cost more money? Not necessarily, and it shouldn't. APS, for example, has enormous purchasing power, but it doesn't use it. Consider, every school in the district individually buys paper, pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. from office supply stores. As a former corporate buyer, why aren't those items being purchased directly from the manufacturer? The same thing goes for the state and its purchasing power. Flex that muscle and everyone benefits. 

Where all this relates to Ms. Skandera is pretty straight forward. She has knowingly dug an impassable chasm between the PED and educators. Any industry supervisor understands that policy changes often require finesse. The best analogy I can think of is when Coke introduced the "new" Coke. The lesson that Coke learned from that is a fundamental lesson taught to business students the nation over. Neither Ms. Skandera nor Gov. Martinez learned that lesson. The bottom line? If the people needed to implement a policy do not support the policy, then the policy will absolutely fail.

No district central office, let alone the PED, possess the necessary personnel to enforce anything they mandate. If you want the policy to work, then you have to have buy in. 

Let me apologize. I never wanted this thread to become embedded in anything off topic. I have tried to check 2 people when I thought they were getting outside of the discussion. Specifically, when comments are made I do expect that such are supported by sound evidence, facts, et al. I apologetically oppose blanket statements. That does not mean that I will not hear/read posts that criticize teachers.When I reply with something contradictory to any post, I will try to do so with facts. I may very well fail, but when I do please give me facts that prove me wrong. Blanket statements and opinions don't work. For example:

  1. The United States spends more than any other country on education -- that statement is false and is easily proven such; consequently, it is an opinion and not a fact. 
  2. Teacher Unions are a big problem -- Allow me to be very blunt here. I detest Ellen Bernstein and the Albuquerque Teacher Federation (ATF). I see it as spineless, gutless, and pointless. Ms. Bernstein is far more interested in chasing windmills than she is in dealing with reality. That aside, the union has been a passionate supporter of early childhood education and preventative intercession for struggling students. Every piece of scientifically based research supports both of these. 
  3. Finally, the argument that education can be run like any other business fails. I have an MBA from the University of Arizona. I worked in private industry. I built forecast models upon which manufacturing schedules were based. The variability defined in every child cannot be ignored. No parent/guardian will tolerate the idea that their child is a mindless, faceless cog on a manufacturing line via Ford Motors. 

Less you misunderstand, the aforementioned are central targets of Gov. Martinez and Ms. Skandera. No evidentiary exists to support them. If Ms. Skandera is a valid candidate for New Mexico's Secretary of Education, then her proposals on education reform mandate an evidentiary basis. To date, none exist. 

basis exists to support them. Given their proclivity to point fingers

There are a lot of aspersions in that post. I'm not getting sucked in...I never advocated for Skandera, I never made some right wing speech, nor did I ever insult teachers. We were having a fairly productive discussion and even found some areas of agreement. I am staunchly opposed to the teachers unions (or any public sector union for that matter), I am pro-school choice and pro merit pay for teachers. The rest is your interpretation based on your own filter. I hope you don't let as much of that seep into our kids as you do this forum. 


Please accept my apologies. I never meant this to be a personal statement about you, but yes I did bring up your argument regarding teacher unions. That being said, I really just want to understand why, and I don't think (and I may be wrong) that specifics have been provided.

As I stated, I have tried to provide specifics regarding my arguments. That being said, I only, and I think justifiably, expect the same thing in return. Hence, if you support school choice, merit pay for teachers, and oppose teacher unions, please provide facts supporting those positions.

When you asked me about what good the union has done, I gave you specific examples. You never debated those examples, but you did, essentially, dismiss them out of hand. I am only asking of you, what you asked of me. 

Francis, I was responding to a post from another user, that has since been removed, it was less than friendly. As far as I'm concerned, you and I have had a perfectly respectful discussion so far. I just haven't had time to continue  yet. 

Zuni1970 - Just a reminder that we do have a moderation policy on DCF.  Keep it nice, keep it civil and be careful how you communicate with other members.  Interesting discussion.  Please keep it on topic and do not let it get personal.  Adelita - moderator

Thank you again for stepping in. 

The frustration foul always gets called.....

A local group of families and educators are putting on a showing of Standardized Lies, Money, and Civil Rights: How Testing is Ruining Public Education. The film is free and will be shown on Wednesday, June 25 at 6:30 at St. Mark's Episcopal Church (431 Richmond Place NE). Childcare and snacks will be provided. The group sponsoring it is called PTEC (Parents and Teachers for an Educated Community). The group is working to inform families about testing and accountability practices in our schools and how to opt your student out of testing. If you want more info, you can contact Francesca at francescablueher@gmail.com.

It would be a good place to talk to others about this issue if anyone is interested. 


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