Having done some target practice, I found it’s best to ensure one can see the correct target first, then take aim.
The “new” “Action Plan” for addressing the Yazzi/Martinez v. State of New Mexico judgement is not at the same range, much less a useful target for improving education.
Focused, allegedly, on “at risk” students, the authors don’t understand most students in public education in New Mexico are at risk, not select groups because of race.
It is difficult to hit the target when those aiming can’t see the target for the trees, pardon the mixed metaphor. As many who are not N.M. educators know, New Mexico falls at the bottom of so many lists because it first fails at providing an excellent education for its public students. By all appearances, many schools and their teachers don’t even strive for mediocrity. Listening to the noise coming from union leaders and politicians subservient to them, they strive for more pay and benefits – results be damned.
Accounting for cost of living, N.M. “educators” are paid near the median of their cohorts across the United States. How many of those NM “educators,” much less their students, even know what median means? They have proven over and over again that more funding does not increase results.
To further obfuscate the problem – or hide the target – the state cannot or will not stand firm on standardized testing. Its new “Action Plan” admits there is no way to compare students’ achievement because “baselines are unavailable.” That lack of availability is obviously intentional. Nobody is held responsible when standards aren’t met because there are no standards.
The recent Journal article “NM sees delay in student assessment data” is another example of how the educational system refuses to be open about schools’ and teachers’ performance. I would not be surprised if Cognia Inc.’s poor performance provides an excuse to find yet another vendor. That will move useful assessment data further out in time, continuing the obfuscation and adding to the excuses. The little data available indicates miserably low performance for NM education.
E.F. Deming, founder of the Total Quality Management concept, pointed out “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring.” The lack of effective measurement in N.M.’s public educational system demonstrates its lack of excellence, making me wonder if those in the system believe education is worth doing.
The crux of the issue is avoiding responsibility at all levels: school boards, superintendents, administrators down to and including teachers. Too few are willing to accept responsibility for poor performance. Parents, taxpayers and even politicians must demand accountability for responsibility not taken. Without accountability, responsibility is meaningless. The new “plan” won’t help.
After retiring from the U.S. Air Force, Bill Mader was a college instructor in Clovis and Traverse City, Michigan, in the field of vocational education.