When our founders wrote the Constitution, they did not envision the federal government playing a heavy role in the education of our children.
Over the past 50 years, major federal intervention into local schools has expanded under the guise of improving education; however it has failed to improve academic achievement.
Instead it has eroded educational standards, disregarded parental rights, restricted and over-regulated teachers and over-tested our children. Educators have been weighted down with requirements and mandates that take precious time away from teaching and learning. So much emphasis has been placed on standardized testing that teachers are being forced to teach to the test rather than use their creativity to foster learning in the classroom.
Public education is a large portion of our state budget and we need to work harder to produce better tangible results. I support restoring state funding for education to the 2008-2009 levels so that we can work towards lowering class sizes, improving teacher training and raising teacher pay. I do not support lowering standards by having a two-tiered high school diploma system. I further believe that New Mexico should have its own education standards, so that decisions about how our children are taught are made in New Mexico classrooms and not in Washington, D.C.
Because every child is unique we must not have a one-size-fits-all approach to education, which is what I feel the Common Core represents. Testing, coupled with the evaluation of teachers by test scores, is driving the implementation of the Common Core, and this approach over emphasizes data. Consequently, all students are required to march to the beat of the same drum without regard to individual learning curves. Standardized tests are not the only measure of learning.
New Mexico’s students deserve better. I will work to advance common sense education reforms that will maintain high standards for our children, improve teaching conditions and support parents. For any educational reforms to be successful the reforms must have the support of our teachers. When it comes to improving education, teachers have a crucial role in proposing solutions.
I oppose the imposition of the merit pay system based on test scores on our teachers. Although I agree that teachers need to be held to a standard of accountability, it is not fair to hold teachers accountable for non-educational factors beyond their control. Teacher evaluation criteria should be determined at the local level.
A teacher standing in front of a class has to satisfy the needs of all students. Education reform should be driven by innovation in curriculum and instruction, rather than standardized tests and teacher assessments. I want to advance policies that give teachers the flexibility and freedom to be innovators and do what they do best – teach.
New Mexico being last in education is unacceptable. We must do better, we owe it to our children.