I was somewhat disappointed to read the recent letter by Mr. Wiggins (link). In reply, I support anything that (1) increases our ability to hire and retain excellent teachers, and (2) facilitates student success, regardless of who occupies Legislative or Executive positions. I believe all current Los Alamos Public School (LAPS) Board members and all LAPS Board candidates share these goals.
As anyone knows who has heard me speak on these matters during the past four years, I have serious concerns about some of our state’s educational priorities and policies. New Mexico’s education system continues to have serious problems—the most critical problem is a substandard education for far too many children, especially those disadvantaged by their home and/or economic environment.
Since the Public Education Department was moved into the executive branch, both Gov. Bill Richardson and Gov. Susana Martinez have taken measures to address some of these problems—both, if one delves into details and history, with limited success. However, a significant problem for Los Alamos is that too many of those measures tend to be “one size fits all” and harm, rather than help, our local school system.
Let me return to my basic principles for LAPS: the best thing for Los Alamos children is excellent teachers maximizing their time with children in a safe, supportive environment. Our desired outcome for ALL students is correspondingly simple:
- Love learning;
- Have skills; and
- Know basic facts.
I will address some specific Board actions in support of these goals in my next column, but, for now, let me repeat that I strongly support anything that increases support for excellent teachers and student success. If I remain on the Board, I will continue to advocate for those goals.
This Board and school administration has been aggressive in trying to (1) mitigate the negative aspects of the current teacher evaluation system, (2) change the testing environment in our schools, which I believe is an inadequate measure of student success, and, most importantly, (3) advocate for more flexibility for high-performing schools. Charter schools have far more operational flexibility than we do: this is clearly unfair.