Skandera’s Non-Answers Say A Lot About Non-Reform

Wanna see something scary? 

The Albuquerque Journal asked New Mexico Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera about the concerns of school officials that the Public Education Department’s A-F rating’s system is too confusing. This was her answer: 

“Fundamentally, and we’ve said this from the get-go, we want to champion success. I’ve always said, you’re always looking ahead for the next thing you can do to serve your school. I can promise you if those parents look at the school report card, they’re going to go, ‘darn it, I do want my kids to do better.’ ”

What? A highly paid government official in such an important job should not sound like Will Ferrill playing George Bush on Saturday Night Live, and that’s why this is scary. 

The story says schools that get an “A” or “B” grade can still be considered low-performing. Albuquerque High was given an “A,” but also got placed on a PED list under “focus” schools, because it’s graduation rate is under 60 percent. Focus schools have instructions on how to improve lessons based on data, the story says, and will have their budgets closely scrutinized. 

“Fundamentally” (what a politician’s word that is), you haven’t helped parents understand how well their kids’ school is performing if you grade it an “A” and then say it falls under the state’s “focus” category and has to take extra state-mandated steps with its students. 

Skandera’s answer is so irksome because it’s no answer at all. Let’s see… you want to champion success, and you’re always looking ahead for the next thing you can do to serve your school, and parents are going to want their kids to do better. 

For all the hot air blown by Gov. Martinez over school reform’s importance in New Mexico, it’s distressing to see reasonable confusion by parents and school districts met with spacey non-answers from someone who appears uninterested in whether reforms make sense or not.  

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