In the past two weeks, Los Alamos Public School teachers have been demoralized by receiving inaccurate evaluation scores from the New Mexico Public Education Department and now from a new draconian and discriminatory attendance policy that penalizes them for more than three absences in a school year.
“The Los Alamos Federation of School Employees (LAFSE) is deeply saddened and frustrated by the continuous attack on all New Mexico teachers, especially Los Alamos Public Schools teachers, by Hannah Skandera and the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED),” LAFSE President Whitney Holland said. “The profoundly flawed methodology and inconsistent scoring tied to the value added model prove yet again that this teacher evaluation system is unreliable and unfair. Across the Los Alamos district, teachers found errors in the data reported and linked to their classroom instruction. These inaccuracies resulted in the careless and degrading labeling of many of our dedicated colleagues as ‘minimally effective’ and ‘ineffective.’”
The recent addition of an attendance component to the teacher evaluations, which punishes teachers for taking more than three of their collectively bargained 14 days of leave per school year, undermines the staff as professionals and discourages them from taking time away from the classroom to take care of themselves and their families.
“We are facing an evaluation system that encourages teachers to come to school sick to avoid being labeled as ‘minimally effective’ by the state,” Holland said. “In this system, teachers who are working mothers and fathers are unable to care for their children, and adult children are unable to tend to their aging parents out of fear that their duties to their families will negatively impact their evaluation scores. Teachers should not be punished for fulfilling responsibilities at home.
“A label of ‘minimally effective’ or ‘ineffective’ on a teacher’s evaluation could have repercussions. Teachers who are inaccurately labeled as less than ‘effective’ will struggle to advance to the next level of licensure, possibly denying them a significant raise. These teachers could also face problems with renewing their teaching licenses. Such labels and punitive measures on the part of NMPED continue to dehumanize the teaching profession and are driving good teachers out of Los Alamos Public Schools.”
LAFSE will continue to work with the Los Alamos Public Schools district to appeal the 2015-2016 teacher evaluations. LAFSE will collaborate with the New Mexico chapter of AFT, to fight for an evaluation model that is reliable and valid.
“Teachers deserve an evaluation model that is based on more than punitive attendance measures and value added scores, riddled with inaccuracies and demerits earned for for fulfilling our personal responsibilities,” said LAFSE Vice President of Certified Staff Christine Engelbrecht.
“This battle is not one that can be fought by an individual,” Holland said. “Our voices are stronger when they are heard together. We encourage LAPS staff, parents and community members to join us at the LAPS school board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11 in the school board meeting room at 2075 Trinity Dr., Suite V to express their concerns to the administration and school board during the public comment portion of the meeting. We know the Board and administration will join us in our message. Together, we will convey the message to PED that this is not the way that teachers should be treated.
“We also ask you to take time to sign this petition asking the New Mexico Public Education Department to stop using the value added model to evaluate educators: http://bit.ly/2doEW1y.”
LAFSE President Whitney Holland can be reached at Whitneymhol@gmail.com with comments and questions. LAFSE will keep union members and community members updated through its facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LAFSE.