Friday, April 17, 2015

Korte finds voice on Journal backside

Some websites allow readers to post comments on what is sometimes referred to as their backside.  The Journal has a backside allowing comments and as far as I can tell, doesn't edit them.

Former APS School Board member Kathy Korte thinks the Journal's coverage of her is biased.  I think she's right.  I think anyone who reads the record will conclude that Journal coverage is biased.

In any case, Korte makes use of the opportunity to comment on Journal articles she thinks are biased. 

She has again this morning, on the Journal's coverage of spending in the school board election, link.

Her arguments resonate.  The bias looks, walks and quacks like journalistic malpractice.

Kent Walz, Journal Editor in Chief is complicit in or complacent regarding Journal bias in reporting about Korte.

If Korte decides to pursue some justice here, she will find none.  There is no venue where her complaint will see due process.  There is no venue where Journal lawyers, guns and money won't give Walz cover.

"Power" does not corrupt.

The opportunity to abuse power without consequence corrupts, absolutely.

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, April 16, 2015

APS teacher morale; lowest in a third of a century?

The APS school board met last night.  During the public forum, a good number of teachers showed up to try during the 60 seconds they were allowed to speak, to convince the board that the bell schedule they and Interim Supt Brad Winter foisted on them, is creating significant hardship for high school teachers and adversely affecting their morale.

One speaker informed the board that in the 33 years he has been teaching in the APS, he has never seen lower teacher morale.

One man's opinion.  But it begs a question;

How is APS teacher (and employee) morale?
Or, a more fundamental question; does the morale of the people who work in schools make any difference; should we care?  Does teacher morale affect student educational outcomes?

The questions seem rhetorical; yet there are times when discussion needs to be grounding by restating the obvious;
employee morale and performance correlate;
morale and performance rise and fall as one.  
Clearly, educator's morale is important.

So why don't we know the state of the morale of APS employees?  Why hasn't there been an honest survey of employees over their morale and a number of other issues that affect morale; student discipline and chronically disruptive students to name for example.

We know why the leadership of the APS won't survey stake and interest holders.  The survey would document the existence of a number of problems that they have failed to solve but have successfully led people to believe have been solved or don't exist.

If teacher morale were high, the survey would be done in a New York minute.  What appears to be success is the result of a million dollar a year two pronged public relations campaign; celebrate success and cover up failure.  Success is surveyed, failure is not.

We know why the leadership of the APS doesn't want to talk about morale (or any one of a myriad of significant problems).  What, we don't know is why the Journal doesn't won't investigate and report on teacher morale (or any one of a myriad of significant problems that would make the leadership of the APS appear incompetent or corrupt)?

We don't know why the Journal, for example, step up and investigate and report upon
  1. teacher morale, or 
  2. student discipline and chronically disruptive, or
  3. student violence, crime, and bullying, or
  4. the ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of APS, or
  5. ...

Actually, we do know why not.

Journal Editor in Chief
Kent Walz is typical of those in
power in the press who have
abandoned their rather sacred
obligation to inform stake and
interest holders in favor of the
personal interests of politicians
and powerful public servants.

It is as appropriate to hold Walz as accountable as any other editor or news director who is covering up the ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, maybe more.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

School board race spending increases by an order of magnitude!

The Journal reports this morning that spending in two races in the recent APS school board elections, increased ten fold.

If there were a last bastion of democracy steering government, I would have supposed it would have been school board elections.  They are not even supposed to be partisan; much less up for sale to the highest bidders.

It is an affront to democracy for one or a handful of people to manipulate the outcome of an election.  It is arrogant for them to suppose that it is somehow justifiable if they do.  Shadow governor Jay McCleskey "justified" Gov Susana Martinez $15K contribution to a local school board race, Journal link, by offering;

“The governor will continue to support candidates and causes she believes will serve New Mexico well.”
photo Martinez website
That's nice of her.
Not so very democratic,
but nice.

Korte steamed at Journal's Dan Boyd - rightly so it would appear.

Former APS School Board member Kathy Korte is upset over being singled out in Journal coverage.  She expressed her upset in a comment on Journal Capital Bureau Chief Dan Boyd's report on candidate spending in the recent APS school board election.

No one can tell it like she herself; you'll have to scroll down to her comment; link.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Valentino's promise is a challenge

Luis Valentino APS image
If Luis Valentino had raised his right hand and sworn, he could not have made a more solemn commitment;
he intends to collaborate.

Talk is cheap.

The Journal reports, link, that Valentino intends to hit the ground "listening".  We can forgive him his poor choice of words; first because they are not his own; he attributes them to another candidate, and because he isn't from around here.  He has no idea the history of Superintendents who have toured the district and "listened" to stake and interest holders.

"Listening" is not collaboration.  Every single one of his predecessors "listened".  Former Supt Winston Brooks began his superintendency on a bus tour of the district, link. Never, not once, have they come back from "listening" and told us what new they learned.  What did they learn, that they should not already have known?

Whatever are Valentino's intentions, they will be come apparent rather immediately - coincidental with his first public meeting and whether or not he really engages in open and honest two-way communication with the communities and community members he serves.

Having listened to him at three forums, I am convinced of his sincerity about collaborative decision making. 

Having taught in, and paid attention to the APS for four decades,
I have to tell you; there has never been honest to God collaboration between the leadership of the APS and teachers; teachers who between them have nearly 100,000 years of ongoing experience.  For as long as it has been on the teachers union wish list; it hasn't moved much past wish stage of development.

Whatever growth there had been was lost when Winston Brooks, with the board's blessing, clawed backed all the decision making power and resources and consolidated them in the castle keep at 6400 Uptown Blvd.

photo Marj Bralley

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

APS admits; no oversight over Esquivel defense

 For quite awhile, I've been writing that in the complaints I have filed, the defendants have been spending in their own defenses without limit and without oversight.  The allegation has been validated.

In the Journal this morning, link,
APS School Board President
Donald Duran admitted that
there has been no school board
oversight over spending in the
interests of former school board
member and Defendant in the
federal lawsuit, Marty Esquivel.

When asked about the opinion of the Chief United States District Court judge; that Esquivel's public participation policy was unconstitutional;

APS school board president Don Duran said he wasn’t too familiar with the case because it started before he joined the board ..."
"Isn't too familiar" with a case that has cost tax payers three quarters of a million dollars during his tenure?
  • The litigation against Esquivel began in November, 2012.
  • Duran joined the board in March, 2013.
  • Duran was on the board for all but four months of the life of the federal complaint.
  • School board policy requires that the board have lawyers who are representing school the district's interests to present case analyses of complaints against them.  The lawyers are expected to be candid, forthright and honest with the board in order that the board not end up spending a lot of tax dollars in litigation against the public interests.

If the board recorded their meetings in secret, they don't, there would be a record that Marty Esquivel's lawyers went to the board and told them this case was an historically expensive loser for the best interests of students.

In the alternative, there would be a record that there was no presentation; the board never provided oversight over the spending of nearly three quarters of a million dollars in an effort to remove Esquivel's name and reputation from the impending settlement

Since there is no record to examine, we'll have to take Dr Duran's word for it; the required "case analysis" presentation never took place; they just signed checks for hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars without examining why Esquivel was spending them and on what.


Journal readers remain in the dark.
The democracy remains uninformed.
Journal editor and Esquivel besty
Kent Walz is the reason why.

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

New Supt must "set a good example"

If you were taking a survey and were asked to respond to the question;

Should the next Supt set a good example?
the most of you would say yes.

It's a poorly worded survey question because a lot of respondents would immediately question;
  • set a good example of "what"? and
  • set a good example for "whom" and
  • set a good example or suffer what consequences?
and maybe even, what is a good example?

It is precisely because those questions have not been asked and will not be answered, that this process is fraudulent.  Stake and interest holders have no idea what is really on the table.

On the issue of adult role modeling;
Does the board expect the next Supt to set a good example of actual, honest accountability to same standards of conduct s/he will establish and enforce upon students?
or do will they all continue to expect students to hold themselves accountable to higher standards of conduct than apply to school board members and administrators?
Does the board expect the next Supt to set a good example of honest, actual accountability even to the law?
or will they all continue to spend operational dollars without limit and without oversight on cost is no object litigation and legal weaselry in order to escape the consequences of their own incompetence and or corruption?

If the next Supt's answers to both of those questions is not an emphatic yes, without reservation, without qualification, we cannot expect the next Supt to serve in the best interests of nearly ninety thousand of this community's sons and daughters.  Or in anyone else's but their own.

As important as the questions are, they have not and will not be asked.  Nor will there be an opportunity to ask them before the decision is made.

Public forums are promised, link.  The opportunity to "ask questions" is promised. But they aren't promising the opportunity to actually stand up at a microphone and ask a question; someone might ask an "inconvenient" though otherwise absolutely legitimate question.

What they really intend for stake and interest holders is an opportunity to write their questions on 3X5 cards.  Then their question will be conflated with other questions in order to create questions that are more "convenient" for school board members and candidates.

It is their want and practice, and hey,
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Bert Lance

cc Letters to the Editor upon posting

Monday, April 06, 2015

Believe your lyin eyes

Suppose for the sake of argument;
a handful of powerful people gathered awhile ago and
decided who was going to be the next APS Supt.
Not necessarily who specifically, but who in general.

Suppose they decided it was time for example, for an Hispanic female to lead the state's largest school district.

Or, suppose any one of a number of a number of other "qualifications" of the next (and every) APS supt; some that can be talked about publicly and some that cannot.

Suppose that a group of people have already decided important aspects of the hiring and that they needed to make the process at least look legitimate.  How different would the process look, than it does; shrouded in yet to be justified secrecy.

The unjustified secrecy simply cannot be ignored.

If because of the trust that must be place in them,
the leadership of the APS is actually, honestly accountable to
higher standards of conduct, then they are accountable to
standards of conduct that require them consistently, to
do more than the law requires and less than the law allows
when opening meetings and acting in secret.  That's what the
concept "higher standards" means; "higher" than the law.

They could open more of the meetings than the law absolutely requires and they could discuss less in secret than the law allows. They don't, by their deliberate and considered decision.

Continuing; suppose that this whole process is substantially "rigged".  How would it look any different than it does?

There is really only one reason to hide the truth and that is to avoid the consequences of the truth being known.  What truths are they hiding?  Why are they hiding them?

Of the truths they are hiding;

  • the need to address student discipline issues without publicly admitting that there are any.
  • the need to reconcile the discrepancy* between the standards of conduct that apply to students and those that apply to school board members and senior administrators, without publicly admitting that there are any. * Students are expected to model and promote ethical standards of conduct while school board members and administrators are accountable only to the law; the standards that any higher standards at all, are higher than.
  • the need to keep up a public relations image of a supt who is accountable as the senior-most administrative role model of student standards of conduct, without publicly admitting that that no one in the the entire leadership of the APS is actually, honestly accountable as a role model of accountability to the standards they establish and enforce on students.
  • the need to cover up an ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, without publicly admitting that there is one.
  • the need to cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators in their publicly funded private police force, without publicly admitting that there was any.
  •  the need to cover up the districtwide abandonment of character education despite a binding board policy requiring it.
the list really could go on and on.

Hence the question; who are you going to believe;
the school board and their million dollar a year public relations effort, or your lyin eyes?

Kent Walz;  conspirator?
What makes this so incredible, so unbelievable, so nearly impossible to accept is that, one would suppose, if any of this were actually true, it would be common knowledge; they would have read about it in the Journal or heard about it by way of one of the NM Broadcasters Assoc stations.

Who is going to believe Journal Editor Kent Walz and the editorial equivalents at KRQE, KOAT, and KOB are part of a conspiracy to cover up  an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS?

Yet, how else can you explain their relentless refusal to investigate and report on any of APS secret problems?

photo Mark Bralley