NM schools: What, really? We can do better, right?

Okay, okay, I never in a million years (or rather, "never in my 30+ years") imagined I'd really care about things like school systems, but here I am. A mom. A mom considering a move back to Albuquerque.

(This is a move I desperately want on a personal level because honest to god, there is no place I love more than the Rio Grande valley. Crazy, huh? You'd have my head checked if you saw the beautiful, quiet, sweet, peaceful place I've been living the past year.)

But then a friend emailed me this story from the Abq Journal this morning:

State: Almost half of class of 2008 almost didn't graduate

Here's an excerpt:

Roughly half the students who should have graduated with the class of 2008 failed to do so, prompting a call to action by the state's education secretary.
"It is alarming," Education Secretary Veronica Garcia said during a news conference Monday at which the state unveiled its four-year graduation rate, along with results of the latest round of tests required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.


Holy crap. That's sad and pathetic.

So DCF'ers, what are your thoughts on Abq's public schools? The best ones you've found? Your complaints, dreams for a better future, plans for a revolution, etc.?

Help a mama out and offer up some advice about all this, eh?

Views: 38

Comment by Shifty on August 4, 2009 at 11:52am
Some would say the answer is charter schools. My understanding is that most of the charter schools in Albuquerque are not failing to meet state guidelines. However, this propogates the problem: if motivated students with parents who care are taken out of the main public schools, this leaves kids who are more likely to require remedial education and discipline, which makes it harder for all the kids to learn. I don't know what the answer is.
Comment by Masshole in Fringecrest on August 4, 2009 at 12:54pm
If schools are the main thing that motivate your move, go to CT, PA, MN, MA.... if it's overall quality of life, c'mon back to ABQ. My estimation from looking at friends lives back East where my wife and I came from, it looks like the "higher" quality educational system for the kids comes at the price of rat-race lifestyle for Mom and Dad.

I have a daughter entering kindergarten at Bandelier Elementary in three weeks, and one that will hopefully follow her in four years. I am not concerned because I believe that through diligence and thoughtful, but not obsessive, periodic intervention that we will be able to navigate APS for many years.

If need be I have a contingency plan (and dream of a large savings fund to go with) that may include private school for a few years (maybe those crucial 6th-7th-8th-9th grades), and i'll cross the Charter School Bridge for High School (only) if my kids are that focused and want to concentrate on a specific discipline.

At least that's the current plan.
Comment by mombat on August 4, 2009 at 2:30pm
I think this topic has been covered here before. I agree with Masshole, Our kids go to Monte Vista and Public Academy for the Performing Arts and we are with happy that. We have friends with kids in different schools around the city who are also happy. If you want the high stress, high competion situation look elsewhere. If you want to be able to take kids to the zoo/biopark, nature center, hiking in the Sandias, biking along the river, grower's market Thursday and Saturday and have a much more laid back life, we've got that.
Comment by Laura on August 4, 2009 at 2:49pm
Uh, just so you all know: I'm a freelance environmental journalist. So I'm not exactly your power-suit-I-need-a-crapload-of-money-and-a-new-car type of person. I'm not looking to join the rat race. I'm just interested in hearing about what schools people have enjoyed or not liked.

I also think NM could do a hell of a lot better for its kids. I've lived in NM in the past--I've only been away for a year--and just because there is a great quality of life, doesn't mean that schools should consistently fail children. Yes, I like to hike and climb around on the volcanoes, and I love the Rio Grande and green chile. But I'd like to think that kids in public schools also receive a decent education. For my child's sake, as well as for the future of the entire state. (Smart kids = historians, poets, hydrologists who can deal with a worsening water crisis, teachers, farmers, etc.)

So, sorry if this is ground that has been covered before, but I'm also asking about those dreams for a better future for New Mexico's kids. What do we need to do to ensure articles like that one in the Abq Journal stop being a reality?
Comment by Adelita on August 4, 2009 at 4:20pm
Do these tests really prove the quality of education our children are receiving? My daughter has consistently had superb teachers here. The key to a good education will always be for parents to be involved and for kids to make good choices - taking art and music classes, hanging out with good kids and being responsible, being involved in school activities, and a simple love of learning.

I went to a very prestigious private school here in Albuquerque and I can't tell you the number of times teachers in that school failed me in ways that still hurt me today. I don't mean failing me in their classes, but failing to recognize that I was not an aggressive student and that as a minority in an overwhelmingly non-minority rich school, I struggled. You have no idea. Granted this was 25 years ago. Once I went back to a public school, I flourished. It all depends on the individual family and what they make of their school and education.

I'll be blogging in the near future of what I have seen this summer going to every public school in this city and seeing first hand what goes on. You might be surprised!
Comment by slamwagon on August 4, 2009 at 4:46pm
Better get in touch with all my ex-APS, Ivy League friends... somehow, by the grace of some higher authority, they made it. Go figure.
Comment by Diva Shadow on August 4, 2009 at 6:38pm
I blame the people who set the state's education goals. If you read this report along with others produced over the years, the state focuses so much on GEDs not high school diplomas. It seems to me that they find it acceptable to drop out and then offer GED coursework.
Comment by Adelita on August 4, 2009 at 6:50pm
Jenny Marie, you totally hit the nail on the head with NCLB. It hasn't leveled the playing field for our kids, but rather destroyed the field. It will certainly leave a lasting legacy and it won't be a good one. I just can't blame teachers and the district for a federal program that was destined to fail.

Diva Shadow, I personally know someone who helped set the science standards for our state. They are some of the most rigorous science standards in the country. We went from an "F:" to an "A" ranking on our standards. Here's a link to an article you might find interesting.
Comment by barbwire on August 4, 2009 at 7:11pm
Teachers can't work miracle with kids who are disadvantaged in so many ways. I think poverty is the problem here, not the schools or the teachers.
Comment by Christie Mc on August 4, 2009 at 8:35pm
As a former teacher, I believe that so much of the problem is classroom size. If there were no more than say,15-18 kids per class, teachers would have so much more time with each learner. I also agree with a previous comment that financial literacy is an important subject to teach. In addition, I believe that being media literate is key to being a successful community participant in the 21st Century.

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