Martinez to Teachers: Are You Sick? Get to Work!

The Albuquerque Journal, the leadership of APS, and the Governor of New Mexico have mind-boggling problems using logic to support their claims.

In an article from February 12, the Journal states: “New Mexico’s new teacher evaluation system has led, at least in part, to a dramatic drop in teacher absences at Albuquerque Public Schools this year compared to last, according to the district’s superintendent and school board president.”

Governor Martinez was quick to send out an email to whomever was courageous enough to sign up for Team Susana updates: "I wanted to share with you the below article from this morning’s Albuquerque Journal. It demonstrates clearly that Governor Martinez’s education reforms are working, despite the complaints of the labor union bosses."  Of course, Team Susana couldn't offer any evidence that this was leading to an overall increase in student learning, because there isn't any.

First of all, that “dramatic” drop was certainly significant, but dramatic may be going just a bit too far into the realm of sensationalist. Especially since that drop is only compared to one year; the difference compared to prior years has not been quite as pronounced.

The Journal continued: “Teacher absences because of illness have dropped over 15 percent at APS during the first half of the current school year compared with the first half of last year, according to data from the district.”

That was totally due to Governor Martinez’s efforts to protect our kids from evil union bosses, right? That makes teachers feel better, I guess, which leads to fewer sick days?

Winston Brooks stated that he had “no doubt” that this trend in fewer absences is due to the new teacher evaluation. Of course, Mr. Brooks still hasn’t voiced either firm support or opposition to this part of the evaluation. Unfortunately, Mr. Brooks has lost his voice over the past few months.

Well, Mr. Brooks, we do have doubts. This is much like saying that the lights no longer flicker in my house because I had the ghosts removed (their evaluations showed them to be ineffective at haunting). Could there be an alternative explanation? Milder flu season? Warmer winter? Fewer alien abductions of teachers?

No, it must be because Susana and Hanna know what’s best for students. Further evidenced by retaining 3rd graders who are behind their peers in reading (no evidence to support that move), increasing testing in elementary grades (no evidence there, either), and using VAM as an effective tool to grade teachers and schools (oh, please).

APS School Board president, Marty Esquivel, took it all a step further. He doesn’t care what you think of the evaluation system, teachers showing up at school is a positive trend. After all, Esquivel says, the more time that teachers are in classrooms, the better the overall learning.”

Wow, Marty. Deep.

Of course, even if a teacher did need to use all 10 of his or her contracted sick days, that still means that teacher was in the classroom 95% of the year. And I don’t know of very many teachers who even use 5 of those days (which is the maximum allowed to remain “effective” under the evaluation plan.

So, yes, teachers are going to work more. Many of them go to work sick.  Most of them go because they fear that the faulty evaluation will show they are "ineffective" because they caught a nasty bug.

One of those union bosses, Ellen Bernstein, maintains that teachers know how to use sick days. I tend to agree. When you’re sick, you plan lessons for the sub and you stay home. Logic. If you misuse your sick days, you can be disciplined without it being an indicator of how well you teach.

If the education reforms in New Mexico lead our kids to think with the same logic deficiencies used by our current education leaders, Heaven help us all.

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Comment by Johnny_Mango on February 15, 2014 at 3:45pm

Kris-Everyone who read that story in the Journal that I talked to said the same thing:  it was sloppy reporting of a stupid statement.  You are absolutely right.  A cause and effect relationship was NEVER established...not even an attempt to establish one...not even anecdotal evidence.  Nothing!  How was it that the reporter never asked a decent question??

And why did the Journal take Mike Bush, who after a shaky start seemed to be wrapping his head around the educational issues at stake, ...why did the Journal take Bush off the public education beat and put him on "higher" education.  Maybe because he was starting to think for himself.

Certainly the current piece on absences and evaluations was amateurish and shallow.  I hope we will see better.  Thanks for pointing the inadequacy of the reporting.

Comment by once banned twice shy on February 17, 2014 at 11:28am

Don't ever forget that the Journal is Susana's biggest supporter.  Never expect any balanced, fact-based reporting from the Journal regarding any policy of Susana's.  

Comment by RunLikeADog on February 17, 2014 at 1:19pm
According to KOB, it looks like Skandera gets to keep her job for a while.

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