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Union prez dons handcuffs, duct tape

ly1ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Update: This blog post has been edited to reflect the fact that Ly was the only AFT teacher to speak at Monday’s hearing. She was not the only union teacher, as I previously reported, as representatives from other teachers unions did speak. I apologize for the error.

It’s looking like I might have to start a running blog segment called “protests with props.” This time, the protester in question is Stephanie Ly (pronounced Lee), the head of the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. Ly attended a public hearing in Santa Fe today wearing handcuffs, according to a news release sent out by the union. The handcuffs were meant to symbolize that educators’ hands have been tied. After Ly finished saying her piece, she placed duct tape over her mouth, to symbolize that teachers have been silenced.

Ly was the only AFT teacher to speak during the hearing, and the news release described the situation as a “boycott” of the hearing, since teachers believed their concerns would be ignored even if they voiced them. The purpose of the hearing was to take public comment on some proposed amendments to the state teacher evaluation rule. Most of the proposed changes involve the classroom observation portion of the evaluation process, and you can see them by following the links on this page.

In any case, I’ve included a picture that was attached to today’s news release, and below I’ve pasted excerpts of Ly’s testimony, as provided in the release. I’ve written a short item about this for print, but I don’t believe it will be published until Wednesday. Think of yourself as getting an early exclusive peek at the news.

Ly’s remarks:

Good Morning! I am Stephanie Ly, President of American Federation of Teachers in New Mexico. I am here on behalf of 23,000 educators from Dulce to Carlsbad. 23,000 educators, who after working over two and a half years with this administration and the Public Education Department, feel like their voices are being ignored.  23,000 educators whose expertise in the field of education and centuries of combined knowledge are being held back by politics and propaganda.

Last year the PED bypassed the legislative process and implemented Educator Evaluations through administrative rule. Over 500 teachers showed up at the rule hearing and voiced our individual and collective research based concerns. We requested a fair evaluation system tied to needed professional development giving us the feedback we need to improve our teaching skills to better serve our students. But we were ignored.

Last month when the PED announced new changes to the rule educators were excited and hopeful that this administration and the Secretary Designee would listen, would compromise and would finally take us for who we are- as professionals and as experts with our students best interest at heart. We were disappointed to find that the proposed changes did nothing to address our concerns.

Look around you today. The silence and absence of educators is deafening. It is clear that this administration does not listen to our collective voices, our expertise does not matter and what we have to say will once again fall on deaf ears.

I am asking for a moment of silence today to mourn an administration that ignores the backbone of education in New Mexico, an administration that tosses aside the voice of educator’s in the fight to improve schools and the future of our students, an administration that is focused on vigorous testing and limited teaching. The hands of our communities, students and educators are tied and our voices are silenced.