Top Albuquerque Public Schools officials at a rally protesting what participants called excessive testing and the new teacher-evaluation system used Twitter to show off signs depicting the governor and her education chief with fangs and as puppets.
One sign, worn by a teacher, read “Collectively sucking the life out of education since 2010,” and showed a picture of Gov. Susana Martinez and education chief Hanna Skandera with fangs.
Another sign showed Skandera and Martinez with strings stating “Puppets on a string!”
Don Moya, the district’s chief financial officer, tweeted a picture of the puppet sign calling it “awesome.” The sign was retweeted by Superintendent Winston Brooks.
Moya also posted the fangs sign. He could not be reached for comment.
When asked whether the tweets were appropriate, Brooks said through spokeswoman Monica Armenta that he “meant no offense.”
Many APS leaders recently opened Twitter accounts after the district hired a social media strategist last month.
“Winston said in light of the fact that we are now using social media more than ever,” Armenta said, “we can certainly discuss the guidelines of social media use with staff.”
APS and teacher unions have entered into a public dispute with the state Public Education Department and Gov. Susana Martinez over the new system being used to evaluate teachers and testing of students to measure achievement. APS board member Kathy Korte organized a protest at Del Norte High School last week. Hundreds of teachers, parents, community members and administrators attended, many of them waving or wearing homemade signs.
Larry Behrens, spokesman for Skandera, said she had not seen the tweets but was aware of them.
“It’s a disappointing use of taxpayer dollars, and this shouldn’t be about name-calling or playing politics,” he said, “but rather about improving student achievement and helping our students succeed.”
The governor released a statement through her spokesman Enrique Knell.
“The Governor has seen them (the tweets) and she’s disappointed that APS is playing politics with taxpayer funds,” he said. “But she was called a lot worse during her days as a prosecutor, and it won’t change her focus on supporting reforms that will improve student achievement.”