[Re: Feature, "Who's Got Their Straws in Albuquerque?" Aug. 6-12] In the desert of Albuquerque, where money and water are not plentiful and schools are among the poorest in the country, Double Eagle Elementary School in the Far Northeast Heights recently ripped apart its very large, very green, grassy field to put in brand-new sod for the third time in less than a year.
We are neighbors of the school and last June watched in horror as crews and trucks ripped apart the perfectly good field at the school to put in new sod at taxpayers' expense. Sprinklers were running all day to water the expensive sod and numerous neighbors complained to the Water Authority, who told us the school was cited for water waste. In late July 2008, crews and large trucks ripped apart the recently installed sod again and put in more new sod, wasting more taxpayer money.
After last summer's second attempt at improving the grass, the field was closed to students at the elementary school for months. Signs were also put up that permanently prohibited use of the field by children's teams like AYSO, who previously used it for practice.
On June 17, 2009, crews began ripping apart the field for the third time, wasting even more taxpayer money. According to Rigo Chavez of APS, this recent re-sod is costing taxpayers $39,800. APS' head of operations went on the local news and said the field had to be replaced to improve the drainage because "It was like growing grass on concrete."
A school board member and other APS administrators told me that even though the grass was very green and full, it had to be torn out because "You can't see with the naked eye that the roots had not taken hold."
When you add up the amounts spent for this ridiculous grass (which administrators say will be closed to everyone until December), APS could have hired two teachers who could have actually made a difference in children's lives.
Teacher's Pet Peeve
This is in response to Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino’s article “The Dropout Factor” [July 30-Aug. 5]. He writes of a recent exchange at a meeting where he was asked if teachers would be included at his table for education reform. He indicates that he hesitated and had difficulty responding. I happen to be the person who posed the question and I witnessed no hesitation. His answer was without pause and was a succinct “No.” If there was hesitation, it came after his rapid reply when he realized his response was ludicrous and this caused the hesitation of which he writes.
He asks why educators aren't "doing more to change things.” However, ineffective policies created by legislatures prevent educators to take steps toward true reform. If lawmakers would refrain from creating useless policies and instead support education by passing constructive legislation, then perhaps positive change could take place. He is extremely critical of education. He joins the ranks of politicians who habitually spew out criticism of education while providing no solutions. They expect success in schools yet refuse to provide necessary support. Last year’s Legislature, of which Ortiz y Pino is a member, voted against adequate funding for public education and made severe cuts.
He exposes education’s “ugliest secrets.” Dropouts are really “push-outs, force-outs and ignore-outs” at the hands of educators. His tone is critical and his accusations are shameful and destructive; they certainly don’t support public education.
After listing countless ills of educations, he declares that educators are “the finest, most dedicated ... and intensely committed to the flowering of the young minds.” At the next meeting I will be compelled to ask how dedicated and devoted professionals could force out young minds ready to flower. Hopefully, this time he’ll embrace the suggestion to include devoted professionals of education reform.
Albuquerque Teachers Federation, COPE (Committee of Political Education) Chair
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