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 Jul 27 - Aug 2, 2017 
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Newscity

By Joshua Lee
The News Monkey

Lawsuit Against PED Delayed

A lawsuit filed by teachers unions against the New Mexico Public Education Department has been pushed back. First Judicial District Court Judge David Thomson granted PED's request for a delay in court proceedings last week. The nonjury trial, which was scheduled to go to trial in October, alleges that the department's teacher evaluation system is flawed and inaccurate. A joint statement, released by American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly and Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein called the system “abusive” and claims that the delay can be blamed on PED's “inability to comply with the Court’s orders for discovery and their failure to disclose critical information and data to AFT NM/ATF lawyers.” The statement also references recent changes to PED leadership and the evaluation system, saying the changes were “arbitrary” and were made to delay a final hearing. In June, controversial former Education Secretary Hanna Skandera stepped down from her position and was replaced by Christopher Ruszkowski as acting Secretary. Earlier in the year, PED made changes to its teacher evaluation system—reducing the value of students' standardized test results in the evaluation from 50 percent to 35 percent. The evaluation system remains under an injunction granted by Judge Thomson in 2015 until the trial ends, barring PED from using the evaluations to make employment, advancement and licensure decisions.

Few Happy With New Wolf Plan

A group of protesters rallied outside of a public information meeting on the Mexican gray wolf last weekend at Crowne Plaza. The meeting, which was hosted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, reviewed a draft of the new management plan for the Mexican gray wolf, which took federal officials nearly 30 years to complete. The proposed plan would remove the subspecies from the endangered species list once its population reaches 320 in the US and 170 in Mexico. According to researchers, there were 113 Mexican gray wolves in the US at the end of 2016 and 28 in Mexico as of April 2017. Both pro- and anti-removal groups—including ranchers, environmental groups and members of the state’s congressional delegation—have spoken against the plan. Wolf advocates say a population of 320 is too low to sustain the genetic recovery required to take the Mexican gray wolf off of the endangered species list. The New Mexico Cattle Growers Association—who opposed the original listing of the wolf as endangered—is unhappy with the time and taxpayer dollars associated with the new plan, which expects the subspecies' recovery to take 25 to 35 years and more than $262 million to complete. In a statement, US Rep. Steve Pearce said that Mexico should be expected to take on more responsibility since the wolf's historic habitat was there. Public comment on the plan will close Aug. 29, and the plan will be finalized by Nov. 30.

 
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