Friday, October 09, 2015

Journal editors shake APS' (money) tree

In the Journal this morning, an editorial, link, decrying spending by the APS school board.  The Journal editors asked on behalf of stake and interest holders;

what they are paying for and why?
concluding that it looks like they're paying for a lot of nothing, or a lot of nothing more.

Real "news" found it's way into the editorial.

Reported no where else in the Journal;
"... acting Superintendent Raquel Reedy has no public comment on the something-for-nothing Moya controversy, board president Don Duran (who as an elected official supposedly represents the public) no longer answers requests for comment but occasionally reads a prepared statement.

They complain about APS spokesman Rigo Chavez, "... who has mastered the art of answering questions while saying absolutely nothing ..." and fail to point out that Chavez is only following orders.

The interest in answering questions while saying nothing belongs to school board members and senior administrators.

APS photo
The editors complain that Supt. Rachel Reedy is being less than candid, forthright and honest with stake and interest holders, why is no one of them assigning a reporter to investigate and report on why?

The editors have the power and resources to follow their feeling and insist on good faith responses to legitimate questions about the public interests in the public schools, but do not. 

As brave as they are able;
... it would be interesting to hear what anyone in a leadership position has to say about the district’s largesse ...

I blame the Journal's Editor in Chief Kent Walz.

He and they write;
To deserve that vote of fiscal confidence, district leaders need to first be accountable for their personnel expenses.

To deserve reader confidence,
Walz et al need to establish their own accountability by investigating and reporting on the real problems in the leadership of the APS.

They need to stop covering for their friends.

He and they have allowed their personal allegiances to board members to trump their obligations to stake and interest holders and informing the democracy.

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, October 08, 2015

The cure for voter indifference is transparent accountability.

For whatever individual and collective reasons voters did not vote Tuesday and may never again, the net result is that decision making is now in the hands of fewer proportionally more powerful politicians and public servants.

It is too late I'm afraid, to expect to fix the system by means of the system.  We can't elect anybody and reasonably expect that they will be able to change anything. 

People cannot be elected who will restore control to the people, over the spending of their power and their resources.  It's just not the way that usurpation of power works; usurped power is never simply just "given" back.

In the struggle over the truth Politicians and public servants have as their champions,

an eloquence of lawyers happy to litigate in the interests of politicians and public servants even against the public interests.

The people have as their champions
a relatively small handful of people who vote, attend meetings, ask questions, and in general dig for the truth and accompanied by an even smaller handful of real "press".

The champions face to face are grossly unmatched;
Entire law firms underwritten by nearly limitless spending against the public interests, often in secret and without real oversight, on litigation and legal weaselry in order to escape the consequences of their incompetence and corruption,

a few dozen people, most of whom have neither the resources not the inclination to engage in years long legal battles over public records and access to meetings.
... David versus Goliath if ever there were.

Goliath has to support him, current law based on a fundamental misassumption;
the truth belongs to the politicians and public servants who possess it; 
and because possession is 9/10ths of the law, it will remain in their possession unless and until it is pried loose court.

The truth is; the assumption should be;
the truth belongs to the people 
and will be made available to them in a timely manner. 
The onus rightly should fall on politicians and public servants to prove that they have a legitimate need to secret it.

Public records and meeting access should never be in the sole possession of powerful people who might have selfish reasons to hide or deny them.  There is the appearance of conflicting interests. 

It would be mindbogglingly naive to think that the legislators are going to go to Santa Fe in January to write and pass legislation that will see them as actually, honestly and transparently accountable to the people, as the law will allow.

Perhaps it is equally naive to believe that a bill could be written, that would make state government as transparently accountable to the people as it will ever be,  And further that that bill could be carried to Santa Fe in person by enough people to see it passed as the second order of business.

But, unless anyone has a better idea,
what have we got to lose?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Journal got around to this, this morning;

APS CFO Don Moya
a re-hash, link, of a story you might have read nearly two months ago, link, about the operational dollars being wasted while another APS senior administrator remains on administrative leave under suspicious circumstances; (Michael Vigil, Gil Lovato, Steve Tellez, and who know how many others.)

I posted a comment on their report for their and their readers consideration.

The one thing you can count on is that we will never know the truth about the squandering of our trust and treasure. There will never be a candid, forthright and honest accounting of the misspending of our power and resources.

There's only one reason to hide the truth; to escape the consequences of the truth being known. The "leadership" of the APS will continue to hide the truth in their own self interests.

The Journal will continue to refuse to investigate and report upon the underlying and causal ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS, for reasons yet to be articulated.

The Journal's immediate problem, in the face of APS trying to float a bond issue in a couple of months, it's newsworthy as hell either way.

Either there are in place, ethics and standards high enough, and accountability inescapable enough to protect the public interests in the public schools, or there are not.

Stake and interest holders deserve the truth; the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the spending of power and resources belonging fundamentally to the people.

The Journal is yet to honor its obligation to inform the democracy in anticipation of that election.

photo Mark Bralley

Friday, October 02, 2015

Despite panning; APS board sailing off to Long Beach

If nothing else the Albuquerque Public School Board of Education is resilient.

Days after a major ass-handing in a Journal survey, link, and a month after their superintendent's debacle, the board has decided to cancel their next regular board meeting and public forum.  Instead, link, they will be attending a Council of the Great City Schools Conference, link, in Long Beach California.

They are somewhat obliged to attend.  Because they sponsored a similar conference, link, and expected other bigwigs to attend their gala; they now are obliged to be the bigwigs in attendance at theirs.

The way it apparently works is;

if a superintendent and school board somewhere can put on a conference for the CoGCS, the supt. gets to be the CoGCS "Chair" for a year.  Former APS Supt. Winston Brooks was "elected" the same year he and APS public relations staged their fall conference.
It looks great on everybody's resumes, but is otherwise just another junket, link.

You know it's a junket because when they get back,
  1. they can never tell you what they learned there, and that
  2. they should not have known already.

When it comes to public school education,
there is no magic and there are no magicians.

If there were, we would know about them and instead of the board traipsing off to Long Beach in search of their illumination, they could simply be brought here to teach everybody.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Journal survey on the APS BOE

The survey, link, that the Journal conducted and reported upon this morning was not a scientific survey.

Nevertheless, if you will concede that

the 532 of 1,016 uncompensated reader volunteers providing feedback for the Journal and the Albuquerque Publishing Co. on content ranging from advertising to editorial questions
are representative of the community on this issue, then the results are valid enough that attention should be paid.

There is no reason to suppose those who participated in the survey are too unusual.  The fact that only half of those who could, did complete the survey, tends to indicate that they're not that much different from the rest of us.

The unscientific survey begs a question;
Why won't the people with the resources to conduct scientifically valid surveys, conduct scientifically valid surveys?
The answer is that scientific data can be used to hold people actually accountable for their conduct and competence.  They avoid real data like the plague - the results of scientifically unsound surveys can be spun more easily.

If anyone were to conduct a scientifically valid survey of stake and interest holders regarding their confidence in the board, the findings would reveal slightly less outrage, disappointment and disillusion with the leadership of the APS than the Journal survey; but still a number large enough to consider.

It is a shame that stake and interest holders have no other way to express their outrage, disappointment and disillusion than maybe being surveyed, unscientifically, someday.


There is no legitimate agenda for the APS that does not move forward on the day;
an independent examination and review of the ethics, standards and accountability that apply to school board members and superintendents, begins.

There is a cause around which concerned stake and interest holders can rally.
an ethics, standards and accountability audit of the entire leadership of the APS.

There is a time and day;
the next regular school board meeting, link, 5pm, October 21st.

There is a place where they can gather;
the John Milne Community Board Room, 
Alice and Bruce King Educational Complex,
6400 Uptown Blvd. NE

Those who wait endlessly for the perfect time to act,
find only an excuse to not act, ever.

The right time to do the right thing is always right now. unk 

If not you, then who?  If not now, then when? unk 

Those who represent support for a government  
of the people, by the people and for the people,  
can ask for no more for their righteous demands, 
than a time, a day and a place to express and defend them.  

But now they've got to do actually do something.

Monday, September 28, 2015

APS' "state of the art" cell phone policy

There is a problem with one of APS' policies.  The policy, link, has to do with students and the cell phones they carry.

The problem is not a new one, link.  The enforcement of the policy is causing some parents to complain when asked, to a local TV station, link.

The policy, is clearly stated; if by "clearly stated" you mean, to anyone who is a better reader than most high school graduates.

If you test the readability of the policy, you will find it is grade level 13 (Flesch Kincaid).  Students (and their parents) will have trouble reading it until one or both of them get another year of schooling under their belts.

Albuquerque Public Schools shall permit student possession of personal electronic devices on all district property and at all district sponsored activities while the student is under the supervision of district staff. These devices shall be kept out of sight and silenced or powered off during the instructional day unless otherwise permitted by district or school procedures. Use of personal electronic devices that disrupt the instructional day or include unauthorized use shall be prohibited.

Albuquerque Public Schools shall not be responsible for restricting, monitoring or controlling the electronic communications of students; however, it reserves the right to do so.
Not unheard in the history of the leadership of the APS;
  • APS Policies, and
  • apparently unforeseen consequences of the implementation of those policies.
That their cell phone policy has caused problems should come as no surprise. It has to do with their two step decision making model;
  1. Identify the problem and pass along until some leader among them,
  2. takes it upon them self to write a policy that will solve the problem.  
It works like this;
someone decides that a problem, like the problem with student cell phone abuse, had reached a point where the problem is too big to ignore/hide and, teachers cannot, apparently, stop it by themselves. Then a small group of "leaders" sit around discussing the problem until arriving at the inevitable stage; solution by means of the brainstorming the perfect consequence; one that "fits the crime!"  
They look in particular for punishments that fit the crime because they have a nice ring to them, making easy them to sell to uninformed stake and interest holders.

Clearly, confiscation is a punishment that "fits the crime".  The consequence, though it irked some parents, has a really nice ring to it. (No pun intended - suddenly it was there)

Whether it is even legal, remains to be seen.

The more fundamental question,
What should be done with students who routinely and deliberately ignore rules and the authority over them, of adults and their rules?
doesn't come up.

With regard to APS discipline policies, the only thing that every policy has in common with every other is, none of them are based on a philosophical foundation broader than the personal philosophies of a handful of administrators or school board members who wrote them.

APS has no discipline philosophy*.  There is no body of philosophical consensus anywhere.  There is not even agreement over whether deliberately disobedient students should be punished or not.

*A request for any public record even remotely resembling a "discipline philosophy" produced the Student Handbook, formerly the Student Behavior Handbook, also written about the reading level of most students and their parents and which contains no philosophical justification of anything; even justification for printing a handbook that nobody can read.

Policies that have no shared philosophical foundation are inconsistent with each other and often conflict outright.  They are difficult to enforce.  If a student asks, why not, the lack of a philosophical justification leaves enforcers with "because it's the rule" and "because I said so".

Because it's the rule and because I said so don't work.
If they (ever) did, there wouldn't be a problem.

Friday, September 25, 2015

I call your attention to the Journal back side

On the Journal website this morning, link, what looks to be a lively discussion on dismal PARCC test scores.