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Bearing the weight of failure

Cost of college unbelievable

THE RECENT editorial on student loans and the impact of interest rates hit home. I just had a daughter complete graduate school with a phenomenal debt after only two years. An increased interest rate will certainly be more costly.

However, it isn’t the cost of interest rates that is the problem. It’s the unbelievable cost of college that is the problem. The rate of increase in costs far outweighs the possible increase in interest rates. But the Obama administration never comments on that cost. Why would they? Their elitist friends who run the institutions of higher education – think Ivy League and even our own UNM – turn out liberally minded students who back liberal politicians.

Until something is done, young people will continue to pay for their college education well into their futures.

New education system needed

THE MAY 25 editorial, “Data show why N. M. needs education reform,” is an understatement. We keep supporting a failed a failed public education system. With rankings in the bottom 2 percent for fourth-grade reading and bottom 6 percent in overall K-12 performance it’s time for New Mexico to jump ship and go for change. How about vouchers? The U.S., one of the world’s leading proponents of capitalism, can’t seem to find room for competition in the education bureaucracy. While there are some good arguments that families bear a large responsibility, they can’t be blamed for everything.

Several years back a high school student in the Gallup system asked for help with his algebra homework. When he brought it to me he had no textbook. He explained that the school only had one set of math books that all the classes shared. I purchased a book for him and we addressed his issues with inequalities. Later he came to me asking for assistance in formulating the solution for the equation of a straight line. After showing him how to accomplish the task analytically, I said I’d show him how to do it graphically. I explained it was easier than the analytic way and served as an independent check on the accuracy of his work. He told me he didn’t have to know how to solve the problem. He said his teacher told him that the teacher did not know how to solve the problem graphically!

Curious, I asked about his teacher. The teacher was the fifth for the same class in one year and was the coach. My question is why should the student be compelled to go to school if he can’t be given a textbook and a competent teacher? The obvious answer is that the system works for the adults and the students get the hindmost.

We don’t need reform, we need a new system.

NMMI alumni under attack

THE NMMI administration’s attempted takeover of the 49-year-old NMMI Alumni Association is a “hijacking” of the group and its $5 million resource base.

NMMI Superintendent (Jerry) Grizzle stated, “One of our first initiatives will be a membership drive. I was shocked to learn that only 241 (alumni) were annual members last year.” What does Grizzle think is an acceptable level of alumni participation? What is the alumni participation at other junior colleges and high schools with “military” in their titles?

Doesn’t Grizzle wish to count the hundreds of alumni who yearly travel to Roswell for homecoming and more? Doesn’t he count the thousands voting in the alumni board elections over the last five years? Does he want an appointed “puppet” board, not an elected one? Does he only wish to count those who give large donations to his state-tax-supported, land-grant institution?

As the alumni association is recovering from Grizzle’s draconian action, I hope all alumni who are dismayed by this will please be patient.

Does Grizzle truly realize the nature of NMMI?

Institute graduates, like others experiencing rigorous military or prep programs, often have mixed feelings, “I’m so glad to be finished, and yet I’m so glad that I went through it.” It often takes years before an alumnus reestablishes the relationship. Further, the institute’s high school or junior college graduates go on to become alumni from four-year colleges; and their involvement is thus split between two institutions. …

More needed for improvement

MANY OF our children and their test scores and their reading skills and graduation rates will be better when they enter school ready to learn. Reform of the local communities in which they live is important. Your editorial “Data show why NM needs education reform,” May 25, does not go into a basic reason for the low performance of many children. Neglected neighborhoods, drugs, unemployment, racism, hunger, absent parents, chronic stress and hopelessness all are in urgent need of reform.

The editorial refers to “entrenched resistance to change.” There is entrenched resistance by our political and economic leaders to changes that are needed to improve the culture from which many children enter the education system. Small steps are in process. Many more resources are required.

Don’t make teachers transfer

DO SUPERINTENDENT Winston Brooks and APS Board President Martin Esquivel really think that transferring teachers against their will to schools where they have no relationship or commitment is going to “fix” schools? Do they really think that the only reason some kids don’t do well in school is because of “bad teachers?”

That is pretty convenient for letting every other cause – hunger, homelessness, not enough health or dental care, employers who preach “family values” out of one side of their mouths, but don’t pay a living wage and refuse to give even unpaid, let alone paid, leave for parent conferences or sick children, and general lack of tangible resources for academic intervention, small classes, and after-school activities – off the hook.

We in the community have had enough of scapegoating teachers and want to see real support given to children in their schools and in their community.

A start to giving teachers and schools the support and respect they deserve is to show good faith in their bargaining process.

School chiefs’ pay too high

AS A TAXPAYER, I protest the salaries of $300,000-plus which are paid to the presidents of our N.M. universities. The regents say they will not get the best people unless they are “competitive” in salary. Baloney! There are a lot of qualified people who would love to have the job, would be happy to get a lesser salary, and would show us what they can do! This upward trend must stop. Already our students are forced to attend junior colleges because they and their parents cannot afford the tuition at our major universities – supported by the state, no less!

A state university is supposed to be more affordable in order to provide a way up for its citizen students. Or is that the problem? The students do not give any money to the legislators, and the regents are mostly rich men who don’t remember the value of money from when they were young.

Let’s also do a study on the increase in professors’ salaries, compared to the Sixties, and taking inflation into account. And they say there is no inflation!

Work where your boss says

CATHY INTEMANN’S argument against involuntary teacher transfers, May 21, shows that spoiled brats are getting in the way of education at Albuquerque Public Schools. And that’s just the teachers.

She argues that the greater good is better served by leaving teaching positions vacant, or filling them with new hires, than by forcing teachers to endure the trauma of commuting across town. If teachers have to drive to work like everyone else, apparently they’ll be unhappy and will take it out on the kids.

However, I agree with Intemann’s suggestion that APS treat its employees the way leading private companies do. Firms like Google and Microsoft succeed because their employees are paid on merit, may be fired for poor performance, and work wherever they’re assigned.



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