Democrats and the Martinez administration duke it out on education reform … and the group caught by surprise
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Roundhouse Democrats and officials in the Susana Martinez administration are exchanging verbal shots over the governor’s school reforms — and a little-known educational group cited by the Democrats didn’t even know it was even being prominently mentioned in the debate.
On Wednesday (July 26), Senate Democrats issued a news release quoting frequent Martinez adversary Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque) saying “it has become readily apparent that Governor Susanna [sic] Martinez’ proposed cure for better school performance may very well cause more harm than good” and adding, “We all want better school performance, but gambling on our children’s education with an untested and untried mandate is not acceptable.”
The news release also quoted Rep. Rick Miera (D-Albuquerque) and Sen. Howie Morales (D-Silver City) who specifically criticized the recently-passed law creating an A-through-F grading system for public schools in New Mexico.
Public Education Department spokesman Larry Behrens responded by e-mail with equally sharp language, saying, “These legislators have a combined 40 years in the legislature with no new ideas for our students. New Mexico is at the bottom of national rankings and all they can do is put politics before students. The people of New Mexico have chosen a path of education reform and it will continue to upset the status quo. Parents are demanding results in education and it’s clear those who can’t stand on their own record think the best solution is to try to sabotage accountability.”
The Democrats’ news release called on the Martinez administration “to adopt the educational reform recommendations developed by the Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education.”
On Thursday afternoon, Capitol Report New Mexico called R. Kim Johnson, who is a past president and board member of the Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education (CESE) who said he had not heard that his organization was cited in the Roundhouse Democrats’ news release until he was told by this reporter.
“We were not aware they were going to say that,” Johnson said, although he added that “I’m not unpleased” to hear the news.
According to its website, CESE is “composed of interested citizens throughout New Mexico and the nation, including scientists, engineers, educators, university faculty, members of the clergy, and parents.” The group says it’s “non-partisan and non-sectarian, and welcomes members of all religions and political philosophies.” Johnson says it has a “couple hundred members, give or take.”
A retired physicist, Johnson says educational reform is “more complex than simply adopting a method” and said he had talked to Rep. Miera at a recent Legislative Education Study Commitee meeting.
When asked about the A-through-F law, Johnson said, “some of the things they score on are mixing apples and oranges.”
The group releases a quarterly, 8-page newsletter called The Beacon. Here’s a link to its special June issue on “Some Commonly Held Beliefs about Education in New Mexico that are False and Misleading”: http://www.cese.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/2012-06beacon.pdf
And in its April edition, there’s an article by Johnson about the school grading system and an article by Dr. Paul Braterman on “Climate Change Denialism”: http://www.cese.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2012-04beacon.pdf
Update: Johnson called back later in the day to say the CESE recommendations listed in the news release were “exactly what we testified to” before the LESC and “I don’t have any problem with this.”
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Capitol Report New Mexico, Coalition for Excellence in Sciene and Math Education, Howie Morales, Legislative Education Study Committee, Linda Lopez, Rick Miera, Susana Martinez