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APS hopes to influence PED’s role in revamp

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Public Education Department has the chance to revamp everything from teacher evaluations to assessments under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which gives states more control than its predecessor, No Child Left Behind.

Albuquerque Public Schools hopes to influence PED’s direction.

The district is kicking off a series of community forums tonight at Del Norte High School to gather feedback on ESSA from parents, teachers, elected officials and civic leaders.

Later this month, PED will launch its own public meetings around the state with New Mexico First, a public policy organization.

Carrie Robin Brunder, APS’ director of government affairs and policy, acknowledged that the district decided to “crash the party,” but said she hopes to have a collaborative relationship with PED.

“We have to build on the things that have been really positive and tweak the things we need to change,” she said during a recent board of education meeting.

In November, the New Mexico Learning Alliance and University of New Mexico Center for Education Policy Research will work with APS to compile feedback from the four community forums and each district school, then submit it to the state.

The district’s suggestions might not make it into PED’s final plan, Brunder said, but the process is still valuable because it will give constituents a voice.

“We will have something in black and white that says we really wanted something different,” she said.

APS board member Steven Michael Quezada applauded the effort.

“This almost really sounds like compromise,” he said. “And I have never used that word the whole four years as a board member when we’re talking about public education and the PED.”

Ellen Bernstein, president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, said she is feeling hopeful.

“There are a few places where we have a significant opportunity to do things better for our students,” she said. “Those are huge opportunities for the PED to play a positive role and make changes that will help us all do great work for the students we teach.”

PED will send the state ESSA plan to the U.S. Department of Education by early March. It will go into effect at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.

PED spokesman Robert McEntyre said New Mexico has always been committed to quality education.

“The good news is that we have done much of the hard work to improve our education system that many states are just now starting to do,” he said in an emailed statement. “This not only puts New Mexico ahead, but it allows us to continue to support and champion our teachers and build on the strong foundation that’s already working for our students and schools.”