By Joshua Lee
State Receives a “D” in Education
Education Week’s 2017 “Quality Counts” study rated New Mexico 49th in the nation for educational quality. The D.C.-area trade publication's annual report examined how well states and districts are preparing for the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act by measuring a number of criteria. According to the report, the state earned the overall grade of “D.” Grades are calculated from the average of scores in three separate categories tracked by the report: The “Chance-for-Success Index” uses data from a person's entire life to “better understand the role of education across an individual’s lifetime,” the “School Finance Analysis” measures school spending and the distribution of funds across districts within a state and the “K-12 Achievement Index” scores states based on 18 measures related to reading and math performance, high school graduation rates and the results of Advanced Placement exams. Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, only Mississippi and Nevada were ranked lower than New Mexico overall.
Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Halt New Charter Schools
Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, has introduced a bill that would call for a moratorium on opening new charter schools between June 1, 2017 and Jan. 1, 2020. The “time out,” as she called it in a recent interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican, would “let some of the people who are enforcing the rules catch up and untangle what we have.” She hopes the proposed moratorium will give the state time to review the charter school system oversight process. Last month, Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera spoke out against the bill, saying that while she recognizes that there are performance problems with some of the current charter schools, she believes that the state should hold them to stricter standards with the threat of closure instead of putting a halt to new schools. In August 2016, the Chicago-based National Association of Charter School Authorizers released a report which found that the state commission tasked with approving and renewing charter school applications did not have strict enough standards or clearly defined academic requirements. A Charter School Subcommittee has been created by the Legislative Education Study Committee to examine the performance of the state's 97 charter schools.
Numerous Candidates Running in APS Board Election
An unexpectedly large number of candidates will be seen running for the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education in February. According to the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office, every position that is up for re-election is being contested by multiple candidates, with a total of 24 choices. Board members approve the district budget, create policy and choose a superintendent. Officials hope the large number of candidates will draw more voters to the polls on Feb. 7 for the race, which has historically had a low turnout. Two incumbents will be seeking third terms—President Dave Peercy and Vice President Lorenzo Garcia.
Bill Proposed to End Secretary of Education Position
State Senator Michael Padilla has proposed a bill that will eliminate the position of secretary of education. Padilla voiced concerns about the current system, in which a new governor will appoint a secretary of education without input from the community and regardless of qualifications. His bill would replace the secretary of education position with a 10 member school board. If supported by the House and Senate, Padilla says the bill will be seen by voters in 2018.
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