When a New Mexico judge ruled last year that the state is badly failing its most at-risk children by not providing a quality K-12 education, it was confirmation to many that change was needed.
This spring, a newly sworn-in Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she would not appeal the ruling, but planned to “litigate aggressively” to avoid long-term oversight of public schools by the judicial system – something the Journal Editorial Board agreed should be avoided if at all possible.
That might be hard to head off if all initiatives are as milquetoast as the so-called “equity councils” being foisted by the Public Education Department on districts and charters.
The councils are now required as a way “for communities to engage in the process of thinking of culturally and linguistically responsive education,” according to a Dec. 9 Journal story by reporter Shelby Perea. Ostensibly, that’s to help address the heart of the judge’s ruling, which is that English language learners, Native American students, students with disabilities and students from low-income families are not getting sufficiently educated.
Because, when in doubt, assemble another committee. Newsflash: Panel to study changes.
It’s not that community voices don’t matter. But how, exactly, PED hopes to use these councils to come up with useful, implementable information to guide curriculum in a way that improves student outcomes is unfathomable.
Frustrated school leaders made valid points that time and energy would be far better spent investing in programs and services – especially considering staff and governing members likely have a handle on what needs to change.
“I can tell you where all our weaknesses are and shortages are,” said Ray Griffin, who heads Santa Fe-based charter school Turquoise Trail. “That’s what good administration is for. That’s what our board is for. We don’t need another council to tell us.”
By the way, if districts want their staff reimbursed for council work after school hours, they’ll have to come up with the money, as this is an unfunded PED mandate.
These equity councils aren’t progress. They’re a waste of time wrapped in the guise of mock wokeness that will do nothing to do better by New Mexico’s children. PED Secretary-Designate Ryan Stewart and the governor should quickly eliminate this burdensome, unhelpful decree and get down to finding real, tangible solutions that make a difference.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.