NOB HILL--Is the dead of winter too early a time to be looking at the possible effects of Hanna Skandera’s policies next fall? I don’t think so...and neither do a few other people. You might be surprised at who seems to be paying attention.
Every since she became governor Susanna Martinez and her appointed (but yet to be officially approved) head of the state’s education department have tried to make teachers the scapegoat for what they see as deplorable test scores. There is no doubt that the scores are bad compared to the rest of the country. However, our scores are bad in every area that affects children and their well-being, not just education. Don’t forget poverty, teen pregnancy, drug use, alcoholism, and homelessness...just to name a few.
Be that as it may, the governor would like to blame teachers as the culprit in this scenario. Actually it’s the teacher unions that they mention most of the time. "You see, my fellow New Mexicans, it’s those damn UNIONS that don’t want irrelevant evaluations, endless testing, idiotic piles of paperwork that are the backbone of educational reform.” Or so the story seems to be played out in the press.
A strike by teachers is out of the question. But now I think many are starting to whisper about next fall. What if teachers just say "to hell with it" and resign. What if they actually quit. What then? Won’t all those teacher vacancies be bad going into the 2014 elections? Remember election day is only about three months after the beginning of the school year.
There are signs that somebody is really getting worried. Just look at the clues:
These are stunning numbers--especially for the middle of the school year. These open positions in Albuquerque are a mixed bag. Some are special education, some are part time, some are ESL or bilingual. Still, these are stunning numbers in a city with few job openings in general.
What does this mean for next fall? Anecdotal evidence suggests that teachers are leaving like never before. Teachers from around the city tell of colleagues seriously considering retirement. Every school seems to have four or five that are leaving. Governor Martinez and Hanna Skandera can talk about unions all they want. They can laugh at teachers' protests. They can smirk at Brooks and his “oink,oink” tweet. They can gloat over getting rid of teachers with advanced degrees and tons of experience being replaced by cheaper, less well-qualified newbies.
But the truth is, there are no winners in this.
No winners at all.