Santa Fe, NM – Today, Senate Democrats hosted two constituents at an education press conference in the State Capitol as part of their “Voices of New Mexico” press conference series. New Mexico educator Carol Singletary and public school parent Jessica Goodkind spoke about the issues they face with the new testing and evaluation policies set forward by the Public Education Department (PED).
Singleton is a former public school teacher who taught in Clovis for 25 years, and is now an instructor at Eastern New Mexico College. She expressed her frustration of leaving her job as a public school teacher because of all the hardships she faced with standardized testing and teacher evaluations. As a teacher, she said that she felt as though she had lost control over her own classroom curriculum and remembered the days long gone when she once had the autonomy and the trust from superiors to teach what was best for her students.
Goodkind talked about the experience with her child, a first grader at “F”-graded Montezuma Public School in Albuquerque, and the stigma the low grade brings to her community. She argued that funds being spent should be spent on time and resources. “We need money and resources to be devoted to our kid’s learning,” said Goodkind. “We need the state to stop telling us that our kids and teachers are failing.”
Part of Public Education Department’s (PED) current education reform policies, 50 percent of teacher evaluations are based on how well students perform on standardized testing. According to Senator Tim Keller (D-17-Bernalillo), Albuquerque Public Schools are reporting that educators are spending 41 days out of the school year preparing students for standardized testing. Currently, New Mexico has spent $22 million on out-of-state, for-profit testing companies. “Our kids are being used as guinea pigs,” said Sen. Keller about the over-testing in public schools. “It’s not right and it’s a waste of tax payer money.”
Senate Education Chair John Sapien (D-9- Bernalillo & Sandoval), Senator Howie Morales (D-28-Catron, Grant & Socorro) and Senator Michael Padilla (D-14-Bernalillo) spoke to several pieces of education legislation that address education budget, and replacing the PED secretary position with an education commission and stabilizing graduation requirements for high school students.