Wednesday, September 8, 2010

NM and The US Dept. of Education's "Race to the Top"

The US Dept. of Education awarded $3.4 billion to nine states and the District of Columbia in this competition. Winners received at least 440 points out of 500. New Mexico scored 305 points.

Noted about NM’s application:
1. strengths in student assessment;
2. skepticism regarding the reform plan and stakeholder commitment; and
3. lack of an action plan (who, how, what, when) with a detailed budget.

Highlights of NM’s application include:
Zero out of 28 points on “using evaluations to inform key decisions”;
Zero out of 15 in “ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals in high poverty schools”;
Zero out of 14 in “improving the effectiveness of teacher and principal preparation programs”; and
40 points out of 40 for ensuring successful high-performing charter schools.
* Information compiled by the Legislative Finance Committee.

It is my hope that candidates will be sincere and focused in addressing educational issues. Likewise, as voters we must be discerning and not allow the rhetoric to distract us from what needs to be accomplished for our sons and daughters. Perhaps, it is time we hold elected officials accountable for results and not merely socially promote them. I urge you to carefully consider the devastating effect these poor outcomes are having on our students and our community.

You may remember Governor Johnson pushed to change the independently elected State Board of Education to a Secretary of Education structure. Under this organization, the governor would appoint the Cabinet Secretary, and we would finally have accountability! The Legislature never allowed the Johnson Administration to move in this direction.

Governor Richardson promised educational reforms and results; just give him the tools to be successful. The Legislature agreed to send this change to the voters for their consideration. He also pressed the voters to change our State Constitution to take more money from our Severance Tax Permanent Fund to invest in education. The electorate, knowing the importance of a quality education, granted both of these initiatives.

We are now at the end of Governor Richardson’s second term. New Mexico’s 40+% dropout rate has worsened during his term of office, and there are plenty of reasons (excuses) for the failure of our students. The US Department of Education’s Race to the Top under President Obama provides some unbiased perspective.

As we celebrate Labor Day, let us commit to fully preparing our students for the work force with quality education!

Received from Lee Rawson

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