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Governor Remains Silent on School Failings

For the second time in less than 30 days, New Mexicans are seeing that the creation of a Secretary of Education and increased spending has had absolutely no impact on student performance (subscription) or school accountability.

The percentage of Albuquerque 10th-graders who passed the state’s high school exit exam fell to a three-year low last year, officials announced this week.

Around 71 percent of 10th-graders in Albuquerque Public Schools passed all parts of the New Mexico High School Competency Exam during the 2003-2004 school year. That’s a five-point drop from the previous year, when 76 percent of Albuquerque high school sophomores passed all parts of the exam. During the 2001-2002 year, 77.5 percent passed all parts.

Rose-Ann McKernan, director of APS Research, Development and Accountability, said the district’s drop mirrors a similar decline across the state. “It’s a statewide phenomenon we can’t explain,” she said.

Statewide, only 65 percent of sophomores passed all portions of the exam in 2003-2004. The previous year, around 69 percent passed.

This story ran on the front page of Friday’s Albuquerque Journal. All weekend, I searched in vain to find Governor Richardson’s response to this outrage. I just couldn’t imagine that he would sit silently on the fourth floor of the Roundhouse while the quality of our children’s education continued to decline. As a man of his word, Governor Richardson should be compelled to action by this campaign promise:

Yes on One means now there will be a Secretary of Education — providing real accountability for our educational system — and ensuring that for the first time, the buck stops with one person, the Governor.

According to my count, Governor Richardson, there are now two bucks sitting on your desk. You wait long enough to do something about this education slide, and you might have enough money to pay for that new train, but I’m not sure it will really take you to where you want to go.

Just in case, you’re thinking that schools are going to see the light and straighten out this mess on the their own. Let me share with you these closing quotes from the Journal article:

McKernan said that most universities in New Mexico will accept students with a “certificate of completion.”

In addition, private school students in New Mexico aren’t required to take the New Mexico High School Competency Exam to receive a diploma.

APS board member Leonard DeLayo said private schools are getting a free pass. “You can call it a high school degree for sale.”

Thanks for putting our mind to rest Rose-Ann. It doesn’t matter if our kids fail miserably in high school. They can still get into New Mexico’s Universities. Hmm, I wonder what that does for University completion rates. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Board Member DeLayo deserves a special nod for pointing out that the real issue is the scam being perpetrated on those poor kids in private schools.