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Richardson Throwing Money at Education

A press release on the New Mexico Public Education Department website announces that “Governor Bill Richardson outlines plan to continue investment in classrooms.” This release comes just five days after the exciting proclamation that “Governor Bill Richardson praises national report showing significant education gains.”

Just in case you missed my post about the latter, let me try and sum it up for you. The Quality Counts 2005 report gives high scores to New Mexico for spending more money, creating standards, assessments and accountabilities, letting parents know that unqualified people are teaching their children and devising a new three-tiered licensure system. What they, and Governor Richardson, fail to mention is that New Mexico children still score worse on tests than most, and in many cases all, other students in the nation.

However, this Governor is never one to let the lack of results stop him from spending more of our tax dollars. Or maybe, the media spin was precisely the results he was seeking. Either way, his next step is to unveil a $2.1 billion education plan for this coming session. Can’t you just imagine him calculating the rankings another $134 million will buy in the Quality Counts 2006 report.

To get an inkling at how the Governor’s “Prepare for Success” initiative is being implemented, let’s take a look at this recent article in the Gallup Independent about Tohatchi Mid-School. This is a school that is currently on corrective action as a result of four years of probationary status.

All of the seventh graders last year were given [$1,300 laptop] computers as part of a program set up by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Wow, I wonder how many years of probationary status it takes to get a car.

“There’s a trend that shows that students start losing interest in school about the 7th grade,” [the school principal] said. But the computers,with their games, and access to the Internet, have done wonders in the last year to get students interested again in learning.

Mind you, this astute observation is made by the same school principal who has led during the last three years of probationary status. I wonder if he has also found a trend that shows Mine Sweep and Solitaire improve student performance. Oh right, I forgot. Improved student performance is no longer considered a key measurement of a “Quality” education.