Alibi V.26 No.32 • Aug 10-16, 2017 


Reading Program Cut From Local Schools

The News Monkey

Neither the Albuquerque nor Santa Fe school districts will be receiving funds associated with a popular reading program because of changes made by the New Mexico Public Education Department. “Reads to Lead,” a $12.5 million state program providing reading specialists to assist kindergarten through third-grade students, offers funding to school districts that have shown improvements on standardized tests or have created a plan for the future that has been approved by PED. In May, 30 districts and 11 charter schools were automatically funded by the program because they had shown sufficient growth on standardized test scores. Another 19 districts and one charter school received funds based on their applications to the program, which were reviewed by a panel of independent education experts. Cobre Consolidated Schools, near Silver City, received $521,149—the largest sum given to an entity—despite having only approximately 1,290 students—the smallest number of students under an entity's care. According to APS school officials, the loss of funds could impact up to 24 schools in the district who might have to go without a reading coach. APS received $1.065 million in Reads to Lead funding in 2016 and $565,200 in 2017, but is receiving nothing in the current fiscal year. Christopher Ruszkowski, acting secretary of education, says the results are not politically motivated, but were arrived at through the use of a rubric provided to independent reviewers by PED. The results of the evaluation were that APS had not shown significant results in its student performance despite receiving state funding. APS reading scores have dropped 2 percentage points since 2015 according to PARRC test results, and third-grade reading scores fell by 1.6 percentage points between the 2016 and 2017 school years. But school officials say the application process and requirements haven't been consistent. According to a report published by the Legislative Education Study Committee, PED has changed the application process for the Reads to Lead program four times since its inception in 2012. Launched by Gov. Susana Martinez, it began as a competitive grant, but was changed in 2014 to provide funding to any district that sent in an application and met minimum requirements. The competitive process was reinstated in fiscal year 2017 and is still in place.

AG Sessions Threatens to Withhold Funds From ABQ

Last week, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ sent a letter through the Justice Department to Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden Jr. and to the police chiefs of three other cities telling them that they would not be eligible for a federal anti-crime program unless they cooperate with federal immigration authorities by detaining foreign nationals. Sessions sent the letter to the chiefs of police of Albuquerque, Baltimore, Stockton and San Bernardino after the four cities applied for a new federal crime-fighting assistance program launched in June called the “National Public Safety Partnership” (PSP). The program provides federal funds to cities with crime rates higher than the national average. The letter requests that the chiefs provide proof that their police departments have policies that require detainees who have been arrested for committing a crime and are suspected of being in the country illegally to be held for 48 hours so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents can take custody of them. The Albuquerque Police Department currently has no such policy. In response to the letter, Mayor Richard Berry addressed Sessions directly, challenging the Attorney General's claim that Albuquerque was a so-called “sanctuary city.” Berry said it’s the federal government’s responsibility to enforce immigration laws. He also pointed out that the city doesn't actually have a jail, and that prisoners are sent to the Bernalillo County Detention Center. Berry said that Sessions might be confused about who runs the city's jails. Sessions has repeatedly threatened to withhold federal money from cities that do not cooperate with ICE agents.