Alibi V.27 No.21 • May 24-30, 2018 

Newscity

Candidates Criticize Teacher Evaluations

The News Monkey

The single Republican and all three Democratic gubernatorial candidates have promised to change the state's current teacher evaluation system—introduced by the Martinez administration—if elected.

Republican Steve Pearce expressed concern over the evaluation system's centralized power structure, saying it disables local school boards. He said the practice of using standardized tests to judge teacher rather than student performance is “backward.”

Democratic candidate Jeff Apodaca, a former media executive, said he would work with state principals, superintendents and community members to develop a new system of teacher evaluations. He expects the changes to be implemented through the Legislature, but said he would institute them through executive order if needed.

State Sen. Joseph Cervantes said he would implement a new system within 100 days of taking office by utilizing executive orders and working on legislation. He told reporters last week that he wishes to see an emphasis placed on classroom learning and student achievement. He also vowed to do away with the current practice of giving public schools a yearly A-F letter grade.

US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham has said that the current system “punish[es] teachers working with the most vulnerable students.” A representative for her campaign told reporters that she plans to work with lawmakers and education professionals to develop a new system “as quickly as is possible while ensuring quality.”

Student test scores currently make up 35 percent of a teacher's rating under the current evaluation system. The assessments also consider the teacher's attendance, classroom observations and student surveys. The system was implemented by former Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera in 2012.

Next Governor to Face Water Issues

Experts say New Mexico's next governor will be facing a number of serious water issues next year.

According to NM Political Report, former deputy secretary of the US Department of the Interior Mike Connor told a group gathered for a water conference at the University of New Mexico last week that dropping reservoir levels and drought will require immediate action from the state's next governor upon their appointment to office.

Other speakers at the conference brought up Indian water rights settlements, the Gila River diversion, pending groundwater permits and a pending US Supreme Court lawsuit against New Mexico and Colorado over water from the Rio Grande.

The lawsuit, filed in 2013 by the state of Texas, alleges that New Mexico failed to pass on its proper share of water from the Rio Grande. As part of the Rio Grande Compact, New Mexico and Colorado are required to deliver a certain amount of water from the Rio Grande each year to their neighboring state downstream. The suit claims that by allowing New Mexican farmers to draw from groundwater which was connected to the river, the state failed to send its legal share of the river's water.

Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could also pursue a claim in the case, as New Mexico was negatively affecting the US government's ability to deliver its share of the Rio Grande's water to Mexico.