• Tributes abound for jeweler, antique dealer, philanthropist and Downtown mansion-builder Gertrude Zachary.

• State Education Sec'y overrules education advisory commission and grants charter to controversial online school with questionable conservative and for-profit ties. Critics fear creeping privatization.

• Yikes! Pipe bombs found at site along Rio Puerco west of Rio Rancho.

• Election consultants convicted of stealing $2.5 million in public funds meant to promote voter participation. Could result have impact on state's efforts to re-try former Sec'y of State Vigil-Giron?

• Car hits transformer. Lights go out for 3,000 in NE Heights. PNM fixes the problem overnight.

• Duke City state legislator proposes increase in NM tax refunds available for TV show productions.

• New exhibit at Nuclear Science & History museum shows images of earth from space.

• Is it a sign of recovery, or of desperation? NM Lottery ticket sales rise by 11% in last six months of 2012.

• UNM athletes post record high GPA. 52 named to academic all-star roster, a 30% increase.

Views: 259

Comment by shotsie on February 1, 2013 at 9:37am

How does a Secretary-Designate get to set policy? I guess she was hired to start the shift to private online schools - first you help create a law that sets up schools in poor areas to fail, then you allow any students who are within the "failing" schools boundaries to go to online schools, then you approve an online charter headed by someone who has never been involved in teaching.

Isn't it ironic that a self-proclaimed free market libertarian-type is the head of a online charter school, sucking public funds into some Florida-based for profit "school", which has ties to the Bush family?

Comment by jes on February 1, 2013 at 10:05am

Great questions. Would like to hear some answers, but not likely.

Comment by RunLikeADog on February 1, 2013 at 10:08am
I don't understand why the privatized school option is so scary to some. Public school systems will still get all the tax money they get now and have less students to spend it on.they should be thrilled. The risk is completely on the parents that are footing the bill. My guess is that what is so scary to the public school system is that the online privatized alternative will be successful.
Comment by Phil_0 on February 1, 2013 at 10:46am

RLAD - your basic assumption here is common, but incorrect. You are assuming that the "privatized school" is privately funded or paid for by parents. That absolutely isn't the case. Charter schools are NOT tuition-based nor funded by private companies. The public pays for them: they take in federal and state education money like any other school - they pull funds from the same pot as our public schools based on the numbers of students they attract. They are only "privatized" by virtue of being run by for-profit private companies rather than a publicly accountable agency. The money - the "profit" these schools are counting on - comes directly out of the taxpayer's pocket. There is no savings to the taxpayer.

As shotsie points out, it is remarkably ironic and hypocritical that this school is being touted by someone as stridently opposed to government spending as Paul Gessing.

Comment by RunLikeADog on February 1, 2013 at 10:57am
So basically the same as hiring contractors to do roadwork? Taxpayers foot the bill to pay the contractor who also makes a profit?
Comment by Phil_0 on February 1, 2013 at 11:12am

That's more like it but just like a contractor there are lots of ways you can cut corners to maximize your profits, especially if you're not particularly ethical about it. Beyond basic requirements charters are not accountable the way public schools are and are required to produce a lot less information about how they're run.NM has certified quite a few bad, bad charter schools, and unlike a roads project it's the kids who take the hit. The stakes are a lot higher than a shoddily painted median or some bad concrete work. And any money going to charters means defunding the existing public school system which continues to serve the lion's share of NM students. Our school system is no great shakes but it's difficult to see how less funding in public coffers will make it better.

The other problem here is the same as with other public contracting...people can pass money through to their cronies and pals at the expense of the public. My read on this situation is that the agencies responsible for charter school accountability have cried foul about this new "virtual school" and Skandera has chosen to ignore their concerns and go with her preferred "contractor" anyway. That doesn't sound any different than any other New Mexico cronyism...the debacle with the Downs of Albuquerque and the fairgrounds racetrack springs to mind. As I recall Gessing and the RG Foundation have been among the most vocal critics of these kinds of deals in the past. Again, the irony is impressive.

Comment by once banned twice shy on February 1, 2013 at 11:55am

Phil_0 hits it on the head.  A good deal of the charter school proponents are simply grifters...and they don't care about education one whit.  Hannah Skandera should be hounded out of this state.

Paul Gessing loves this idea because it likely lines Paul Gessing's pockets with money. 

Comment by RunLikeADog on February 1, 2013 at 12:48pm
I'm no fan of Skandera, but the fact is we have seen an increase in High school graduation under her watch. So maybe we'll just have to see how this goes. Second, even with the good news about HS graduations, we have a long way to go and we have been on this journey of improving education for a long long time with nothing to show for it but numerous injections of cash with no results. One of the greatest intellectuals of all time once said the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Maybe the time is now to try something different.
Comment by shotsie on February 1, 2013 at 1:30pm

With a "traditional" charter school, the teachers and other staff are located in-state and work directly with the students.  With the online schools, the staff could be in Florida, Colorado, Philippines, India - wherever the mother corporation wants.  Thus, more than likely, the education money quickly flows out of state.  Gessing is just a front man for this operation - the computers and staff will be somewhere else - thus we lose more jobs here, but pay the same as if they had a school located in NM. 

You can bet the home school types will be busy establishing addresses that are located in failing school areas, so they can take advantage of this paid-by-the-state education experience.  (By this, I mean, live wherever, but share an apartment or house with several other families, so they have an address.)  Somehow, Gessing thinks he has 500 students lined up, and they had to come from somewhere... 

BTW, a Colorado study showed that online educated students lagged a year behind their counterparts from public schools... (Skandera should know this - but she's a right wing hack educator, like Michelle Rhee...) 

As far as increasing graduation rates - well, there's a serious recession going on, and I'm betting even middle school students realize they can't get a job without a diploma...

Comment by hettie on February 1, 2013 at 1:38pm

Regarding graduation rates, the 7 point jump in the numbers for 2012 is suspect as the graduating class wasn't required to take an exit exam in order to graduate because of a one-time reprieve. The true test of Skandera's policies will be the graduation rates for 2013.


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