Wednesday, November 26, 2014

APS Board covers tracks on "alleged" OMA violation

When APS School Board President Analee Maestas decided to hire an attorney to investigate allegations against former APS Supt Winston Brooks, she accessed school board member buy-in by means of calling school board members one at a time.

In a letter, link, to the board from prominent attorney Charles Peifer, they are called to task for a "rolling quorum" vote.  It is unclear, in what capacity Peifer wrote.

The board paid their Modrall lawyer Art Melendres to pen a letter, link, denying the allegation and offering fix it even though it weren't broke.

To avoid any further argument on that point, the board intends to address the claimed violation by placing the question on the agenda for a meeting of the Board held pursuant to the Open Meeting Act in the near future.  At that meeting, Dr. Maestas will summarize what she said to the individual Board members and their responses, if any.  The Board will them proceed to discuss the hiring of an independent investigator and will, if a majority of the board approves, vote to ratify the hiring of an independent investigator.  We believe that this procedure will, in conformance with the Open Meetings Act, remedy any alleged violation of which may have occurred.
The draft minutes, link, of a Special Board Meeting on November 14, 2014, indicate;
President Maestas motioned that the APS Board of Education ratify the hiring of an independent investigator to conduct an investigation of complaints made against the superintendent. Dr. Duran seconded the motion. President Maestas requested a roll call vote. Results of the roll call vote yielded approval of the motion with board members Maestas, Garcia, Quezada, Duran and Peercy voting for approval; Board Member Korte opposed the motion, and Board Member Esquivel was not available for the vote.
And there you have it, an ex post facto vote
erases the sin of a previous rolling quorum vote;
slick as a whistle and all "legal".

Esquivel campaign(?) gets a boost from KRQE and Larry Barker

The gist of the Larry Barker exclusive, link;
a man with a background that should have disqualified him from teaching in public schools did not, and then APS hired him as a teacher.

There is nothing really remarkable about this story.
As serious as the problem is, there is nothing really remarkable in the fact that there are men and women teaching in the APS who shouldn't be. 

If there was another story next week about a different teacher who should not be teaching, would you be surprised?  Disappointed of course, but surprised?

photo APS' website
APS School Board Member Marty Esquivel was featured prominently in both the report and a week of intensive advertising in advance of the report.  Esquivel is, as far as anyone knows, running for re-election to the APS school board. 

There is the appearance of impropriety.

The coverage Esquivel was given for free will help him get re-elected.

Esquivel's personal and professional ties to KRQE create the appearance of a conflict of interests. 

Esquivel knows better, and since he is KRQE's lawyer,
they know better too.

If the KRQE Esquivel relationship was free of impropriety, Larry Barker would be doing an exclusive on Ethics, Standards and Accountability in the APS and
Esquivel would be co-starring
in a whole different role.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, November 24, 2014

APS recruiting students, how odd.

APS is running ads on KKOB TV.
They are recruiting students.

Millions dollars a year on "spin" 
and on boundless legal weaselry.

The voice over sounds
a lot like APS Executive
Director of Communications
Monica Armenta.

Her final point;
an overwhelming majority of students choose APS
A more candid, forthright and honest approximation is that an overwhelming majority of APS students don't make a conscious choice whether to attend APS or a charter.  Mostly they go to school all their friends and have been since kindergarten.

All of which begs at least a few questions;
  • All of this cost some money.  Wherever that money came from, taxpayers or donors, it could have been spent instead, directly on students.  Is running ads on KKOB the best use of scarce resources?  Wouldn't success sell as many or more tickets?
  • APS student standards of conduct "preclude all acts, including half-truths, out-of-context statements, and even silence, that are intended to create beliefs or leave impressions that are untrue or misleading." 

    If it is wrong for students to mislead stakeholders, is it wrong for one of their senior-most role models as well?  Are the "leadership" of the APS the senior-most role models of student standards of conduct or are they not?
  • Whose call is it? Are the ethics, standards and accountability of school board members and superintendents the prerogative of the people or of their politicians and public servants?
There is a school board election coming up, followed rather immediately by the hiring of a new superintendent.

The issues in that election
and in that hiring are;

Ethics, Standards, and
actual honest Accountability
to those ethics and to those
standards for everybody;

from kindergartener
to school board president.

All the rest will shake itself out in due time and as a matter of course.

photos Mark Bralley

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Esquivel's re-election campaign gets boost from KRQE

According to APS' award-
winning website, this is what
School Board Member
Marty Esquivel looks like.
Based on the assumption
the incumbent is in the race until
you hear otherwise;  APS School
Board Member Marty Esquivel
would like to be re-elected;
he's in til he's out.

If he is running, his re-election
effort is having a great week on

Not only are they still not investigating and not reporting on Esquivel and the board's;
  • new policy and procedures for limiting public participation in public meetings; a naked effort to escape individual criticism and accountability for their public service and to bolster a non-viable defense he and the board are putting up in federal court.  Or upon his and the board's,
  • squandering of the people's trust and treasure as they in meet in secret, without a creating any record of any kind, spending without any real oversight and without limit, in defense of Marty Esquivel's ego and their own self-interests. Or upon his and board's
  • utter abandonment of their obligations as the senior-most role models of student standards of conduct
but now, they have instead,
  • made him the star of an oft running ad promoting  a Larry Barker exclusive.  
He couldn't ask for better pre-election exposure if he was paying for it.

in the following paragraphs this morning, I inadvertently posted another station's call letters; I meant to have typed KRQE and the change is now reflected in the follow below. 
It is worth noting, except for Esquivel not being their lawyer too (as far as we know),  KRQE, KOAT, and KOB TV are all same same, as I wrote  this morning;
Not one of them wants to looking at ethically redacted findings of investigations of felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators
In his other life, Esquivel is KRQE's lawyer.
His advice;
don't press KRQE's IPRA request for ethically redacted public records of findings in investigations of allegations of felony criminal criminal misconduct in the leadership of APS' publicly funded private police force.

The Journal, let's say
Editor in Chief Kent Walz,
does they same for Esquivel;
running his photo and quotes
about as many times as they can, without being too obvious.

The same holds true for KOAT and KOB TV and now DCF, though the path of the influence of the APS over Sophie Martin's DCF is unclear.

The common thread in the establishment's media is former APS School Board heavy hitter Paula Maes.

Maes, the CEO and President of the NM Broadcasters Assoc holds sway enough with them it seems, to enjoy their complicity and or complacency in the cover up of an ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the of the largest school districts in the country.

All of this is so very wrong on so many levels.

And yet, plausibly deniable and "legally" defensible.

You can fight back by making
APS' individual and institutional
Ethics, Standards and Accountability 
the issue in the school board election.
Weed out any candidate who is not willing to
role model honest accountability to meaningful
standards of conduct and competence in their public service.
If we want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor, someone has to be willing to show them what they look like.

photos Mark Bralley

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Character education in particular, isn't for everybody (all at once).

Never mind that no education is for everybody all at once because there is no such thing as a one size fits all education in any subject.

Character education in particular, and more than any other, is based on individual witnessing someone else's personal example.
Character is taught by personal example.
It can be taught only by personal example.

You don't teach character; you can show students it looks like.  You set an example.  Even if your example is of falling short and accepting the consequences.

All achievement gaps are individual, their mitigation has to be individualized at least to some practical limit.

It may sound oxymoronic, but
it is possible to make a collective
effort to pay individual attention.

This whether it is their math skills,
their reading skills, or their
character development in need of our individual attention.

Charles "ched" Mac Quigg
running for the APS School  Board, District 4 on my own terms;
  • Honest actual accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence for politicians and public servants within their public service to the APS, to nearly 90,000 of this community's sons and daughters, and to the community members they serve.
  • Meaningful participation by stake and interest holders in decision making that affects their interests.  Open and honest and civil two-way public discussions of important issues.
  • Transparency limited only by the law; ethical redaction of the public records of the spending of their considerable resources, and the wielding of their considerable power.
The very things the
incumbent Marty  Esquivel
is litigating to prevent;
using limitless operational 
dollars, and under no real oversight.

Self-over sight and  
subordinate oversight
are not oversight,
they are oxymora.

photo Mark Bralley

Friday, November 21, 2014

Esquivel's truancy problem solution illustrates APS' problem solving problem

In the Journal this morning, link, a report on a discussion that took place during the school board meeting Wednesday evening.  The discussion was not specifically listed on the agenda.

I only bring this up because the policy and procedural directive that School Board Member Marty Esquivel  designed prohibits open discussion amongst board members or any item not listed on the Board Meeting agenda.

In the statement they read at the beginning of public forum, they inform us that they can't respond to speakers when they are standing right in front of them during public forum, but, if you want to, you can hang around until the very end of the meeting, at which time  there is a time, the "only" time, when board members are "legally" allowed to respond to statements or questions raised during public forum.

Think about it, they can't respond to a question during public forum because the OMA won't permit them. but, the OMA does permit them to can respond later, to the same question, if they feel like it. 

Operational dollars paid to codify a dodge Esquivel and his lawyers designed, to enable them to escape the expectation of having to respond to inconvenient questions about;
  • ethics, standards and accountability in APS
  • the cover up of a cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators, or about,
  • their abandonment of their responsibilities as the senior-most role models of APS student standards of conduct.
According to Journal Reporter Jon Swedien;
Marty Esquivel wants his colleagues on the Albuquerque Public Schools board to consider throwing their support behind a proposal that would allow schools to strip habitually truant students of their driver’s licenses.
The board took no action.  Basically, Esquivel had an idea and it didn't fly for a number of good reasons; not the least of which; the unintended and yet to be considered consequences.

It is however, a good illustration of the APS two-step decision making process;
1.  a problem is identified (and immediately hidden as necessary until addressed) and then

2.  some school board member or senior administrator comes up with a "bright idea" and orders its implementation.
What we have is a relentless belief that the really good ideas flow down from on high, because school board members and superintendents know more than all of rest of us.

What is missing from the process, is the part where a school board member or superintendent reasons that there is a problem and that there are other places to look for solutions beside the "leadership" circle; a bunch of good ol' boys who haven't been in a classroom for decades if ever at all.

The pool of resources for decision making is vast.
APS teachers alone, for example, have between them
around 100,000 years of teaching experience, and
no seat at the table where decisions are made.

Upon election to the Board,
I will a fight for meaningful
participation by stakeholders
in decision making that
affects their interests.

All interest and stakeholders.

Marty Esquivel won't.
Never has, never will.

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, November 20, 2014

No matter what the final APS calendar looks like, one thing never changes.

APS has published the school calendar for school year 2015-2016, link.  Ever notice that first semester finals are always the week before the winter break and not the week after?

Charles "ched" MacQuigg
APS School Board Dist 4
For whatever other reason first semester always ends before the winter break, finals are taken before the break because if the same tests were given to the same students when they came back two or three weeks later, their test scores would be lower, significantly lower.

It speaks to the transience of most "learning" and by logical extension the ridiculousness of trying to make children learn and be tested in unison over the very same material on the very same day for twelve years.
Individual lifelong learners created at the earliest opportunity.
Which would you rather;
  • try to form thinking and learning "choirs" of  30 or more individual students who by their very nature resist standardization,
  • enable students to learn out of control, under close supervision?
Worthy of civil discourse imho.

photo Mark Bralley

One minute is the new "two minutes" at APS public forum

Once, long ago, speakers at school board public forums were allowed to speak for three minutes.  Now it is two.  Except that now it's one - at any meeting where more than15 people show up to speak.  Of late, a lot of people are standing up at public forum.

After years of neglect, public forums are building steam;
the simplest manifestation of government of the people
and by the people.

The last time School Board Member Marty Esquivel ran for the school board, he, I and others were participating in a school board candidate forum.  He was addressing some issue and prefaced his response by pointing out that the two minutes he had to speak, were not enough to build a cogent argument on any substantial issue.

I nearly laughed out loud.

Because as a school board member he has never given the community members he serves more than two minutes to speak.   And that, only once every two weeks, or less.

Esquivel is the architect of the Board's new governing rules over public forum.  The rules declare; if more than 15 people stand up to speak, their two minutes just became one.

The "speech" that speakers might have spent hours shortening, is now two times too long.  What are they to do; read the first half, the last, the middle, every other word?  Frustration lead one speaker to leave the meeting rather than play the game on a lopsided field.

The board, according to Esquivel's rules, will accept a written presentation from those who cannot say what they need to say in 60 seconds.  But first, the written presentation will be reviewed and abbreviated as necessary by school board staff

Once, NM State Representative Janice Arnold-Jones stood up at the public forum in a school board meeting and delivered a petition carrying more than 100 signatures of community members in support of the board's recognition of a Citizens Advisory Council on Communication.

When asked some time later in a different context, why the board had seemingly ignored that petition, School Board Member David Robbins said he/they had never read nor even seen it.

There is a new camera covering school board meetings from the back of the room.  They won't say why they need that perspective, but, if you viewed the record from that camera during public forum, you would see school board members "not looking at speakers".

Whether they're tapping, texting, tweeting or twerking
is hidden from cameras and public view behind a
couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of Kevlar and hardwood.

I have participated in public forums in public meetings of the APS School Board more or less regularly since 2006.

I began attending regularly at the time when the board had voted unanimously remove the role modeling clause from their own ethics and standards.  The role modeling clause once read;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult, be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
I found their abdication outrageous; cowardly and corrupt.

I found it so, in the context of a set of beliefs I held and hold still.
I arrived at those of beliefs at the behest of my employer; the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education.
Thirty teachers had been selected, I among them, to attend training in Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.

APS paid my salary, my sub's salary, and for Character Counts! Founding Father Michael Josephson to come to Albuquerque to enable us to embrace a set of beliefs.  We were to take it so seriously that we were to go out into schools and communities and "preach" those beliefs - on behalf of the board!
The Pillars of Character Counts!, link, are APS student standards of conduct.  Whether they should or should not be is moot; they are. Every year since 1994, when the board unanimously adopted them, the board has reiterated it's expectation that students "model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!"

It was, and still is outrageous that they would simply (try to) abandon their obligations as the senior-most role models of accountability to the same standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students.
Rather than listen to me ask them;
Is there even one of of you who will explain to students, in words they can understand;
why students are expected to hold themselves actually and honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law, 
school board members are not.
They have gone to some pretty extraordinary; illegal and unethical lengths to keep me from asking the question and them from being on the record stonewalling instead of responding on the public record.

They have edited the tapes they broadcast to stake and interest holders, deleting my questions and more importantly, their unwillingness to response.  At one time, they once moved the public forum outside the meeting to keep if off the record.

There is not one of them willing, to this day, to explain why there are two standards of conduct in the APS;
  • one set of higher standards for students and 
  • other much lower standards for school board members, superintendents, and anyone else they decide to shelter under the umbrella of legal weaselry, unlimited budgets and self and subordinate oversight.

photos Mark Bralley

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The fight over Character Education in the APS

It would help if we agreed at the onset, to not get bogged down in endless debate on the definitions of terms like "character education" and "ethical".  The endless debate serves the interests of those who would rather debate than be held actually and honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law, however they are defined.

There is some evidence that at least some people think it is important to teach children to embrace honest accountability to "ethical" standards of conduct. 

For example, we think honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct is important enough that we are willing to repeat a centuries old fable, link, which had been repeated to us when we were children, about a child, a hatchet and a cherry tree.

The leadership of the APS thought character education was important enough to resolve unanimously to adopt ethical standards of conduct, link, for students, and the continue annually, to require them to model and promote (honest accountability) to those standards.

The leadership of the APS thought character education was important enough, at the time, they had written in their own standards of conduct, a standard which read;

In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
They have since removed the role modeling clause from their own standards of conduct; by unanimous decision.  They think by so doing; they are no longer "legally" accountable as role models of student standards of conduct.

At the very least, the decision  
whether we should introduce students to higher standards of conduct than the law and further, encourage students to embrace them, 
should be made after at least some open and honest public discussion.

The leadership of the APS will not provide for that discussion.  The leadership of the APS will not support the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication and the effort to open two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve.

Whether you ask deferentially or more
insistently, their answer means no.
The leadership of the APS will not allow that discussion in any venue they control.

They have a publicly funded private police force willing to follow their orders to "eject" anyone who pushes the issue.

One moment, peaceful demonstrators quietly hold up posters some of which had to do with opening two-way communication and others having to do with Character Counts!.  Clearly, they are "disrupting" nothing.

Moments later, APS Praetorian Guard rolls on the poster holders,
 giving them the "APS thumb"; you're making them feel
 uncomfortable, you have to leave.
Whether there is community support or not, for character education in public schools should be determined in civil discussion in advance of the school board election and their hiring of;
a superintendent who;
  • is
  • is not 
expected to step up as the senior-most administrative role model of the standards s/he establishes and enforces upon nearly 90,000 of this community's sons and daughters in the APS.

If we really want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor;
somebody has to show them what it looks like
to be held honestly, actually accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence
instead of showing them what it looks like
to squander the public trust and treasure in an in secret, cost is no object, effectively oversightless effort to escape the consequences breaking the law; the lowest standards of conduct; the standards of conduct that every higher standard is higher than.

photos Mark Bralley