The New Las Cruces School Board Members were sworn into office, the same day close to 950 students around the district walked out of class. New member Ed Frank taught math for 39 years, and he says changes need to be made to standardized testing.
“The whole purpose of a test is to assess where students are,” Frank said. “And then take some steps to correct anything they are deficient in. Now, I don’t see that happening a whole lot with standardized testing, it happened a whole lot with the tests that I made up. We should test what we teach not teach what we test. And I think we are really going in the wrong direction here we are going to far.”
Board Member Maria Flores says she supports the students who walked out.
“Kudos to the students for being brave to stand up for their rights,” Flores said. “I don’t believe that they need to be tested as much as they are, and I know right now that’s what the PED (Public Education Department) wants. But, that’s not necessarily what the kids need. “
Board Member Barbra Hall says she supports the students right to protest, but hopes they know the risks.
“I just am concerned that the kid’s may not realize the impact it has on their graduation or on their future,” Hall said. “Because this is strike one. This is one time that they could have taken the test and they have three times to pass it, so that concerns me. I hope that they realize that impact that it may have.”
Students brought the protest to the Las Cruces School Board Meeting.
Luisa Chavez says they want to be heard.
“We felt like our voice wasn’t heard enough,” Chavez said. “And we want to speak up for those who are not willing to.”
Chavez is a student at Centennial High School, where she says students were prevented from protesting.
“Twenty of us kids got suspended,” Chavez said. “We weren’t able to protest. We were kept inside a cafeteria, and we decided to protest and let our voice out. And we decided to get out of the cafeteria and we got suspended for that.”
The Story was different at Las Cruces High School where students marched around the school track.
Sophomore Cassidy Calwaystein says every student had his or her own reason for walking out.
“We’re all against it for different reasons,” Calwaystein said. “Personally, I think the fact that this is the first year that we are being given this test, and it’s already a graduation requirement. Even though they have not seen the results of this test in New Mexico, yet, is ridiculous and unfair to the students.”
Superintendent Stan Rounds says overall the student walkouts went well.
“We had a number of students exercise their right to walk out and demonstrate a little bit about what was going on with the testing,” Rounds said. “And I think it went reasonably well at all of the sights. We had a couple of little disciplinary issues that happen when kids get together, but generally it was very good.”
Students who missed a test when they walked out will be able to take a make up exam, and complete their graduation requirements.