A caller to Thom's show today, Wayne or Dwayne, is or was a teacher in Albuquerque; I think he has left our profession. He discussed the terrible changes that have come to NM since Susannnna Martinez and her unconfirmed Education Czar, Skandera, whom I collectively call SkaMtinez, came to gubernatorial power in 2010. He sounded so very SAD, and I was reminded how often I hear that tone when speaking with my fellow educators--and NOT just from New Mexico. I just returned from our NEA National Convention in Denver, and it is a prevailing, constant, longing--NOT complaining theme. As Thom said again today, True Education is so much more than memorization and other rote skills; (I'm adding to his statement) it's about helping children to develop solid THINKING, informed analytical skills, and dare I say, Empathic and other psycho-social skills. And Therein lies the reason why so many educators constantly mourn what our career has become.
What SkaMtinez and Co. did was exponentially ramp up the too-slow destruction of the Public Schools being wrought by No Child Left Behind. NCLB was a thorn in Educators' sides, but was not killing the public's trust in their schools quickly enough. The terminology it used to label our "failing" schools was a little vague--"Schools in need of---whatever"--I can't even remember the amorphous labels. Instead, the new administration immediately instituted a "rating system" which was completely familiar and thus understandable to our public. Frank Luntz was either behind this, or should be in awe: Schools were now to be known as either A-B-C-D or F schools. And the BEST part was that a Florida (where Skamdera last operated) system and formula (not understandable, literally, to Los Alamos Rocket Scientists) were adopted, expanded, and developed to rate our schools, and soon after, applied also to evaluate our teachers. Our citizens quickly “learned” how terrible their children’s beloved teachers and schools really ARE!
THIS is why Wayne sounded so sad. THIS is why our public has started to lose faith in the educators to whom they were always grateful. THIS is why teachers have for the last few years been SO distracted from full attention on how best to teach the children they love. THIS is why Principals have had to pay more attention to State-manipulated & reported "DATA" rather than their students and staff. THIS is why our children will NOT be learning what is important in real education—we now will leave this to Private and Charter schools, who don’t have to follow Public School rules. THIS is why U.S. Public Schools have joined the ranks of other sabotaged Government Agencies--chief among those, the US Postal Service. They’re still hanging in there, and WE are still hanging in—if barely.
What is happening in New Mexico as well as throughout our country is a system based on three requirements: 1) to make government as incompetent as possible, which will lead to 2) limiting the amount of people who can or want to vote, especially when 3) being able to VERIFY Propaganda v.Truth is made nearly-impossible. Our Governor, like many others, long ago was paid for by Big Money, but her fortunes grew exponentially after The Supreme Court nourished the relatively-ignored thread of Corporatist Cancer that had invaded our elections until it metastasized throughout our country into the well-known Citizens United-Neocon Democracy Killer it now is. In order to enact the three requirements, Gov. Susannnnna has unlimited funding to pour into the one lucky recipient of these funds and the vehicle of propaganda—MEDIA. Her multimillions of dollars won’t fund food banks, or voting rights, start-up small business, or libraries or schools. Nope! They fund media...maybe hotels…but chiefly, media AND coffers to be used for whatever slush-fund needs might be encountered. I vacillate between wanting to throw things at the TV and laughing maniacally at her latest ubiquitous campaign commercial—how SHE single-handedly has improved NM Education to its near-perfect state –Strange…since SkaMtinez STILL consider the vast majority of us educators incompetent…Oh! I just figured it out—Propaganda IS much more important that Facts, or Education, or Honest Work. Too bad so many people are working so hard just to make ends meet---OH! Got me again! It all magically makes sense now!
But there is a remedy to this anti-Public agenda because Elections have consequences. There IS a way to end all of this madness. Because Elections matter. The simple remedy is to make sure that we elect a Democratic Governor AND maintain the Democratic House and Senate we have held for years, and while we’re at it, we might as well make sure every state does the same across the board in Congress. All we need is to win those elections. Simple.
The candidate running against Susannnnna is our current Attorney General, Gary King. He is a good man from a family who fostered his life’s devotion to public service. In today’s campaign madness, though, he has two disadvantages: 1) He has a mere percentage of her campaign funds, and 2) He’s not the most gregarious and polished man—just a good, educated, smart guy who surrounds himself with other knowledgeable, hard-working, mostly-Liberal people. Can competence and dedication overcome the status quo?
Yes. Despite the myriad challenges, there is still a simple solution to winning these elections and getting NM and the US back on track: All we and every other state need do is to register, encourage and help as many people as possible age 18 and over to VOTE, and we must start working on this NOW if we are to EVER do so. See? Simple. Because elections have consequences. We just have to DO IT.