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No Sense of Urgency

The Journal is full of articles on New Mexico’s failing schools. Here are the headlines and excerpts:

Failing Schools Point to Progress (subscription)

Sombrillo Elementary School principal Christiana Cisneros isn’t happy that her school received the inferior restructuring II rating – the lowest designation a school can get in state testing results released Monday – but she’s not about to start rattling off excuses.

“We’re not failing; it’s just we’re not taking that test right,” said Cisneros, the principal at the school, part of the Espanola school district, since November 2003.

I wonder what an excuse would sound like.

SF Schools Not Meeting Test Standards (subscription)

More than half of the schools in the Santa Fe school district are not meeting academic standards, according to results of federally mandated tests that were released Monday morning.

Last year, eight Santa Fe schools and one of the city’s three charter schools were labeled as failing to make “adequate yearly progress.”

This year 15 of the district’s 28 schools did not meet requirements under the federal rating system. Likewise two of three charter schools did not make the cut.

“Obviously it does not make us happy that so many schools did not make AYP, but it is not a surprise,” said Superintendent Gloria Rendon.

It may not be a surprise for educators, but I’ll bet you it was huge surprise for many of the parents reading the papers.

Majority of State Schools Failing (subscription)

State Secretary of Public Education Veronica Garcia said she expected more schools not to make the grade this year in part because roughly 125,000 more students were required to take new tests in reading and math this year than last year.

Well, if Secretary Garcia expected more schools to fail this year, how is it the Governor is making claims like this in his State of the State address:

We’ve done a lot to improve our schools. We’re no longer at the bottom of the rankings. Test scores are up.

APS Schools Falling Short (subscription)

APS Superintendent Elizabeth Everitt said she expected that more APS schools would not meet requirements this year, partly because more students took the test.

“We had been warned all through last year that the number would be higher this year,” Everitt said. “We don’t like it, but we expected it.”

I’m confused. How is it administering more tests equates to worse grades? Have all prior results just been manipulations to make the schools look better? Also, is it my imagination, or does it seem that all the top educators have been provided talking points… “it is not a surprise…” “she expected more schools not to make the grade…” “We don’t like it, but we expected it.”

So, what’s the bottomline. Obviously, not one of these top educators seems particularly concerned. So, who do we hold accountable? Who should lose his job over the downward spiral in performance plaguing New Mexico’s public education system? Who has failed to deliver on his promise to deliver?

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.

Oh yeah, that’s right. Anyone know if the Governor is visiting New Mexico right now?