The behavior of the superintendent in his clearly bullying statements pointed at Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera are certainly not an isolated action on his part.
I have a 15-year history of being front and center on education issues and reform in New Mexico as the chief executive officer of the New Mexico Business Roundtable, and since the arrival of Winston Brooks I have witnessed this kind of behavior from him over and over again.
The question I have raised in the past and now raise again is why the APS Board of Education and this community continues to allow and even seemingly supports this behavior from the APS leader. The recent NFL scandal has proven that even professional football takes bullying more seriously than those responsible for hiring and firing the superintendent of the largest school district in our state.
The message that Winston Brook’s behavior sends not only to the students and employees of APS but to all of us in Albuquerque and New Mexico and this country is that it’s OK to act out, make disparaging, hateful and bullying statements and then just say, “I had a lapse in judgment” and “I apologized” after publicly being caught. That is intolerable.
This kind of high-profile bad behavior hurts New Mexico and our chances to compete and attract the quality commerce and industry which many have worked so hard to attain, not to mention the embarrassment and inability to trust a community leader responsible for setting the example for our students.
The standard of our education leaders to be professional in civilly discussing and debating education issues even when we differ on process and outcomes must be paramount.
All of us in the frontline of working to improve education in New Mexico are impassioned. We all have moments where the blood pressure cuff gets a little tight, but we are striving for the best and we are in the trenches regardless of our positions or our philosophies with the goal to see our students succeed.
As adults and professionals, we should know that being ready to respond to teachable moments is a lifestyle of commitment. How we respond to adversity on issues is determined by our real purpose to improve education.
I have been present at meetings where I have witnessed Brooks bully Skandera and watched her respond with grace and professionalism.
I’ve seen the comments on “freedom of speech,” and this is not the case.
I’ve seen the statements about “lapse in judgment,” and this is not the case.
This is about professionalism, being an example – and leadership.
If we tolerate this kind of behavior, then I’m not sure we can expect any kind of change in the struggle of bullying.
It’s past time for Winston Brooks to step down and for the APS Board of Education to step up.
New Mexico Business Roundtable is a public policy organization representing New Mexico’s private business sector.