An Open Letter to Governor Susana Martinez

Education is not the criminal justice system. Punishing eight-year-old children and their parents, as if they have committed their third strike, is wrong.

We all share the desire to improve public education. While your political machine will seek to spin your agenda’s failure, it will not work just as the robo calls and email blasts failed during the session.

Senator Linda Lopez’s education bill included an extensive remediation process to ensure proficiency in not only reading, but math as well. It encouraged parental involvement in a child’s education and did not punish children who are English language learners or who simply don’t test well.

What Senator Lopez’s bill lacked was vindictiveness, no punishing children or their parents because they have more difficulty than other children in attaining proficiency. It also lacked politicization. Had you been willing to strike an appropriate compromise with Ms. Lopez, you would have had the remediation program you claimed was at the heart of your bill. And we all would have supported it.

You were sold a bill of goods about the Florida education agenda. It is wrong for New Mexico. It did not originate here. It is not tailored for our divergent culture and laws. Its only goal was to score political points nationally with the privatizers.

The same holds true for your choice of education secretary. All of your other appointments were confirmed. She had over a year to learn about New Mexico and its minority-majority population, its unique bilingual history and laws and to reach out to those stakeholders to involve them in the education reform process.

She did not.

As Representative Begaye so eloquently said about your bill and Ms. Skandera’s approach to reform, they are “against the principal of the belief of native people, that a community makes a child whole. Where everyone comes together. It will make the child think he’s a failure.

Ms. Skandera sought to shut parents out of the education process. This conflicts with the Indian Education Act and the Hispanic Education Act, both of which are unique to New Mexico. She eliminated the rural education bureau, the education technologies bureau and decimated the bilingual education bureau and the Indian Education Division.  Such things apparently were not important to her, and you went along with it.

There is a difference between political campaigns, with their robo calls and email blasts, and governance. A willingness to punish eight-year-old kids and their young parents has no place in governance.

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