Is it time for a Red Chile Revolution in New Mexico?

Gov. Martinez said, "All of us are required to share the sacrifice." She commented on NM's $450 milliond eficit. She and most state lawmakers don't include the richest New Mexicans or out-of-state corporations in that sacrifice. That's a tragedy we are responsible for. We've failed to create pressure to persuade lawmakers to share this pain with 'all of us'. The result? Your senator & representative cut education three (3) years in a row. Now, they're back. Will we stand for this? Will we stop more cuts? In the early 80s, 60% of the state budget went to education. That's down to 40%, and it's hurting.  In 2003, lawmakers cut state income taxes for the rich from 8% to 4%. They refuse to close income tax loopholes for out-of-state corporations. These measures cost our education system $450 million annually. We have a deficit because lawmakers have lost touch with the people. How so? Yesterday, they passed a $25 million bill to pay themselves so they can figure-out how to cut education. They also talked about ending unemployment benefits for State Capitol staff who are laid-off when the session ends. Sen. Jennings wants to force unemployed New Mexicans to pass a drug test as a condition of receiving unemployment benefits. They refused to talk about making the rich pay their share of state income taxes. They refused to talk about making out-of-state corporations pay state income taxes on profits earned in New Mexico. Most New Mexicans don't even know that revenues from state income taxes and taxes on corporate profits are used to fund education services. Why? Because you and I have failed to do our job. There’s no way out of the deficit unless Gov. Martinez and legislators stop giving away tax revenues to the rich and corporations. More cuts will create more deficits and more pain. If lawmakers refuse to cooperate, then we should have a conversation about what's happening around the world: Cedar Revolution, Green Revolution, Jasmine Revolution. Do we need a Red Chile Revolution in New Mexico? We need to talk: What direct action will it take to persuade lawmakers to represent the people?

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Man I've been involved with groups trying to push a lot of these exact ideas for at least the past two sessions before this one.  Its pretty hard when shady Legislators have these big wig lobbyists convincing them to give even more to corporations and the rich, while again leaving education and the working families of NM with the short end of the stick.  Its pretty ridiculous to me that education is even on the drawing board again seeing that it has been cut so much already.  Throwing money at the education problem is not the only step we need to take to solving our state's education problems, but cutting the hell out of our education system is definitely not helping.

You know, I've got this theory that legislators constantly cut public education funding because an uneducated public is an easily-fooled public.  

ding ding ding.

I've said it before and I'll be crucified for saying it again here, but the problem isn't the money we are paying for education.

we pay more per student in New Mexico than any of our neighboring states, in fact we pay more than most states do per child for education. Our problem is a bunch of lazy, rotten, uneducated, uncaring teachers. There I said it.

For way too long we cried about not having enough teachers. Then we started recruiting at the campuses. Anyone with a degree in basketweaving, foriegn history or language, or the beloved "University Studies" came out of the woodwork and took 6 hours of classroom study and was awarded a teaching certificate. Every year we throw more and more money at the education system and we get less and less for our efforts. The teacher's unions have blocked testing  teachers to see if they're qualified to be in a classroom let alone teaching one. The Unions force us to keep bad, unqualified, and criminal teachers on the payroll because they have tenure. The teachers unnions have flooded our classrooms with Teaching Assistants, and Educational asistants who have NO degrees, and have NO BUSINESS being in a teaching enviroment. Last year we saw in the news a Kindergarten class at one of our elementary schools in APS that had 1 teacher with a degree), one teaching assisitenat (non-degreed), and two eeducational assistants. Four adults in a classroom of 19 students. AND we're paying all their salaries. This is insane! There is so much waste it is incredible. Why does the high school up the road from my house have a baseball field that rivals the ISOTOPES???? (La Cueva). Why do schools in the ALbuquerque area have to travel to CARLSBAD for a football game?? and why are they middle school students? Can't they just play other schools here in  Albuquerque? Why does APS spend over $1 million dollars annually for lobbyists?

Why do they have a bigger and more expensive public informations department than PNM??????

Why is it that when we can't graduate 50% of our middle school stundents from high school 4 years later we're told it's because we're not spending enough money. WHY NOT take the amount we pay for each student and give every parent a voucher and let them decide which high school they want their children to attend and let the market sort out the bad schools.

Can't graduate any of your student body? and now no-one wants to attend your school?? Bye-Bye!

Let the parents decide whether they'd like their children to attend Academy, or Hope Christian, or St Pius, La Cueva, or Highland?

Stop asking what your government is going to do to help your school, and start asking what your school could be doing better to help your student. 

Yes NM Families are getting the short end of the stick, but it's for to long now been the most expensive part of the stick. For as much as we pay into our school system in taxes per child we're getting RIPPED OFF! It's time to open the books, and re-evaluate where our money is going! It's not how much money that's being used to run the system. It's how much of that money is being wasted on beaurocraciy, crappy teachers, obsolete ideas, duplicate services!

Quit asking me to pitch in more. I'm tired of subsidizing this mess and I'm voting in people who are going to stop it.

I am restraining myself from making poor arguments the way you did, Matt. To start your argument with an ad hominem attack seriously erodes your ethos. Oh. And I teach. I teach at a small charter school, and have taught at large public schools too, and I have to say that your over-generalizations are less than helpful too.

 

First, large schools and small schools have problems with ineffective teachers. Moving schools is only part of the solution. Mostly, it is part of the problem.  Because parents are allowed to take their kids from place to place, they do. They move their kids without let or hindrance the minute their kid complains about homework, mean teachers, people they don't agree with politically, getting an F for not turning in any homework, getting an F for not passing tests, realizing that spending 4 years in high school does not guarantee a diploma, and that the student is hopelessly behind in credits. I have had kids moved in and out of my 11th grade English class. They can't pass, they won't pass, and they do not pass the class because they are lazy, entitled, spoiled, and undisciplined. They expect something for nothing, and when I call the parents, which I do, a lot, more times than I can count, the parents say, "What do you expect me to do." I don't know, Mom. Parent? Be an adult?

 

Good god. I have a degree in French and English and a Master's in Philosophy. My colleague has a bachelor's of university studies. She is one of the finest teachers I know, but then again, I trained her. Her complaints are the same. Students do not do independent reading outside of class (oh and believe me, we have tried everything to get them to do it), rarely do homework, and when they have computer time, they surf YouTube and Facebook. They are like farts in hot skillets.

 

Pitch in. Make your kids do homework, make bringing home Fs or Ds or Cs unacceptable, turn off the TV, go outside, read to your babies, talk to them, don't turn on the TV before age 2, don't get your little darling a cell phone until 8th grade, no email and no facebook until 8th grade or until you are willing to accept the responsibility for policing their behavior, set up a chore chart and homework grid, if they don't have any homework, assign some. Boy. I could go on. Take your kids to museums, art shows, car shows, and pet shows. Take them to Chaco, to Bandelier, to Acoma, to Fort Union. Take away the stinking video games.

 

Read yourself. Get caught reading. Read the same books they are, and if no books are assigned, find out what they are studying and get a book about it.

 

I could go on, Matt, but I am pretty apoplectic right now, and need to go lesson plan for my unit on the Great Depression. My kids will be producing radio programs about the CCC, WPA, and NRA (no, not that one). I guess I suck and am lazy because I am going to spend my day lesson planning and grading papers instead of with my dad.

 

La Guera OUT.

Allow me to comment on one of Matt's points. Before 1982, New Mexico invested 60% of its budget in K-12 schools, colleges and universities. Today, our lawmakers invest 40%. We are not "throwing money at education." In real dollars, paying for educational systems in New Mexico hasn't even kept pace with inflation.

 

Before 1982, New Mexico ranked in the top 10 when it came to education. Today, we're trolling near the absolute bottom of USA in most, if not all, educational measurements. Why?

 

Before 1982, New Mexico legally paid its education bills with property tax revenues. When a new family moved into the neighborhood, additional property tax revenues were distributed equally to New Mexico's K-12 schools, colleges and universities. But, in 1982, state lawmakers decided the law must be changed. They decided New Mexico shouldn't use property tax revenues to fund public education.

 

Instead, lawmakers passed bills which gave them legal responsibility [and, accountability] for education funding. Those of us who lobbied the Roundhouse during that time asked these lawmakers what revenues they would use to pay for education. They said, "We'll use state income taxes, sales taxes, and a small amount of the interest earned by investing the Permanent School Fund [see NM State Constitution, Article 12, Section 2 and my postscript below] in Wall Street."

 

Have you ever heard a politician in New Mexico say, "Vote for me, I'll raise taxes."? What they don't say is, "If I cut your taxes, I'll have to cut your schools, too."

 

Cutting education has become a serious contradiction since 2003. That's when conservative Senate and House Democrats joined with Republicans and Gov. Richardson to cut state income tax rates from 8% to 4% for the richest 1-2% of New Mexicans. The following year, education revenues dropped by $350 million. Lawmakers covered those losses with revenues from higher oil and gas prices. When the economy crashed in 2008, oil and gas revenues and budget surpluses evaporated. There was nothing left to pay for rich folk's tax cuts. So, bingo, a $450 million state budget deficit.

 

Each year since the crash, our lawmakers have responded with ever more increasing education cuts. Now, they're back. They say, "We have to cut education again. There are no other options."

 

Your state senator and representative aren't talking about reinstating the 8% state income tax rate for the rich. They aren't talking about making out-of-state corporations [Walmart, Target, Lowes, Home Depot, Starbucks] pay state income taxes on profits earned in New Mexico. So, I asked them, "Why not?" They said, "Because we aren't feeling any pressure to do it."

 

Thus far, you and I have failed to create that pressure. But, it's not too late, we're only two (2) weeks into this 60 day legislative session.

 

I'll repeat the main point of my first Duke City Fix blog on this issue: All of us should share the pain of the state budget deficit, including the richest New Mexicans and the corporations. Otherwise, we'll remain stuck in this downward death spiral. Let's have a conversation about how to get out of this mess.

 

Is it time for a Red Chile Revolution in New Mexico? Peoples of the world are in their streets this morning demanding their governments represent them, and not just the rich and the corporations. Why not New Mexico? We have some of the same problems, i.e. lawmakers who benefit the rich and corporations; lawmakers who cut the people's schools, colleges and universities; and, lawmakers who refuse to listen when we speak of other options.

 

Sens. Tim Jennings, John A. Smith, Michael Sanchez and Reps. Kiki Saavedra, Ben Lujan, Nick Salazar have been passing rich folk's tax cuts and corporate tax loopholes for more than 20 years. During that time they've cut education, too. If these leaders refuse to reverse course, should we replace them? If they raise revenues for education, but Gov. Martinez vetoes the measures, and legislators don't override her vetoes, should we replace them come Nov. 2012?

 

Will it take a Red Chile Revolution to change New Mexico's government? These are critical questions which need to be discussed by you and me on the social networks.

 

P.S. New Mexico's Permanent School Fund is one of the largest educational endowments in the world. But, what do lawmakers do with it when there's a crisis? They send it off, out-of-state, to be invested in Wall Street.  They refuse to use the real name of the fund, they would rather call it a Land Grant Fund. For some strange reason, they don't want the people to know that there's a Permanent SCHOOL Fund worth billions of dollars.

I would suggest that some enterprising Democrat with a sense of humor propose an amendment to Sen. Jennings' bill saying that before a corporation can ship a job outside the US, the members of the Board of Directors have to take drug tests.

Where is the documentation for the notion that higher school spending improves education?  Have test scores improved, for instance, since the Department of Education was established?  

 

We need to introduce competition, not continue funding the beast.  Alternatives are charter schools, school vouchers, and for those so inclined, home schooling.

Homeschooling? Feh. When I get homeschoolers, except for two very clear exceptions, they are largely ill prepared, can't write a paragraph, can't read critically, and are poorly socialized. My very clear exceptions are two kids I taught at PAPA whose parents educated them so well that both are graduating early from high school. Both parents had advanced degrees, and knew that they couldn't teach calculus, advanced physics, and that they did not have a chemistry lab available at home.

 

Man, homeschoolers can do the Abekah worksheets awesome, though.

Your limited anecdotal experience goes against the fact that homeschoolers test 30+ percentile points higher than their public school counterparts, at an average cost of $546 vs $5,325 for public school students.

 

http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp

 

A less qualified teacher teaching one on one is better than a more qualified one with 30 kids to supervise.  We outsource to a homeschool coop the math & band.

 

When I hear socialization I think bullying, teen pregnancies, and dealing with the local meth pusher.

 

 

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