Friday, August 31, 2007

It Takes Both; Optimism and Realism

Natalie is on the committee which will recommend to the board; how to involve the community in the decision making process that will determine who will be the next superintendent of the APS.

If you have any interest at all in participating in that discussion, I cannot imagine anyone in this entire town who will be more dedicated or hard working, or who will treat your input with more respect.

She has laid down at least one ground rule;

"It is time to rally together and step forward with positive and constructive information for what we all want and not allow this process to digress into what we don’t like about what we currently have.”
If you want to help fine; if you want to bitch,
bitch somewhere else (my words, not hers).

As much as I "bitch"; I cannot support her decision more whole heartedly. "Bitching" is pretty much an exclusive activity, it is an entirely different kind of energy that is required for problem solving. It is the very reason I have two blogs; one for problem solving and one for the "wet work" of dis-empowering those who oppose solving (certain) problems. You cannot provide for the opportunity to bitch, and reasonably expect to get anything else at all, done.

But we still need realists. We still need someone to point out that "what we have", does not allow stakeholders to play in any but an "advisory" capacity.

Consider the work of the APS Public Safety Committee. They spent months putting together a recommendation for the direction that the School Board should take with respect to fielding a police force.

The last thing four of six board members did was say; thanks for all your hard work and dedication; but it is our call, and our call is to ignore your "advice".

It really would be impossible to give all interested stakeholders a "vote". And no matter what;
the last thing that is going to happen in selecting
the next superintendent, is that seven people,
and seven people only, are going to take a vote.

The part that is missing from APS leadership is any accountability for their vote.

One could argue that if stakeholders are upset enough,
they can vote board members out at the next election,
or recall them now. Realistically, neither of those options really offers anything like honest accountability.

That lack of honest accountability for the leadership of the APS, makes the all of the hard work and dedication that Natalie and others will pour into this project
a crap shoot, at best.

Because they cannot be held accountable for their failure to respect the rights of stakeholders to participate meaningfully in the decision making process; stakeholders are left with only one guarantee that their all of their effort is meaningful.

The only guarantee they have, is the word of individual board members that we can trust them.

Board members like Paula Maes/Modrall
and Robert Lucero.

I will do everything I can to help Natalie and the others.
I will respect the rules. I will not come to meetings to point out the shaky foundation under their work.

In my own space however, I must.
I will continue the effort to build a foundation
for meaningful participation by stakeholders
in decisions that affect their interests;

by providing for honest accountability for the leadership of the APS; including removing from the leadership of the APS; the corrupt and incompetent; by means of an honest administrative accountability audit.

Will the Tribune Close in a Blaze of Glory?

One of my readers suggested that since the Trib is going out of business anyway; they have nothing to loose by investigating and reporting upon the controversy on the school board over the scope of the upcoming audit.

It appears that the Journal's decision to keep stakeholders in the dark about the single most important and far reaching decision that the board will ever make, belongs to city editor Charlie Moore. At the Tribune, Bill Slakey is the city desk editor.

I have emailed him and asked him to reveal the identity of the person at the Trib who owns the decision that the Trib will not cover the story.

I'll let you know what he says.

Extra! Extra! Has Anyone Seen Charlie Moore's Ass?

Is it true that Journal city editor, Charlie Moore wouldn't know a story if it bit him on the ass? Or chewed it completely off?

Substance to that allegation is supplied by his failing to realize that the ongoing ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS; is in fact a story.

Not only is it a story; it is the single most important and far reaching story on the APS, that the Journal could cover;

... but won't.

Stronghurst Sale Falls Through

There is a headline story in the metro section of the Journal to which I cannot find a link; it is entitled;
Sale of Former School Falls Through.

The story re-illuminates two issues.

One is; why do charter schools have to scrounge around for expensive school sites, while the district has so many school sites sitting empty?

The other is; now, how are we going to pay for the extravagance at the Uptown Administrative Complex?

When questions were being raised about how the district could afford to pay a million dollars for an unnecessary renovated board room at the Uptown location; APS spokesperson Rigo Chavez assured taxpayers that it wasn't going to cost them anything because the cost would be covered by the sale of Stronghurst.

Despite the crushing illogic and blatant deceit in asserting that the sale of publicly owned property to pay for another publicly own bill, doesn't "cost" taxpayers; it is clear that the boardroom will cost taxpayers, a lot.

How much it will cost taxpayers is still a secret.

The leadership of the APS continues to refuse to surrender an honest accounting of the money they have spent at Uptown, instead of maintaining schools.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Official Response From the School Board

The question; what are the individual positions of board members on the issue of the scope of the upcoming audit; the single most important and far reaching decision that they will ever make?

the answer;

"Since definite decisions have not been made about the audit, it is premature to make any statements about the direction or what the board will or will not allow at this point."
What does that answer mean?

It seems to mean that definite decisions will have to be made before stakeholders will learn anything about the direction board members intend to take.

Which is of course, way too late
for stakeholders to have any input at all.

Monica Armenta Will Be Paid More Than A Million Dollars

for her next tens years of service as
APS' Executive Director of Communications.

At the end of that decade, she will be almost two years behind in her work. This, if you believe her when she says she can't answer simple questions promptly because she is already two weeks behind in her emails.

In the the past; I have asked a few questions of Armenta.

In late July/early August I asked her a very few questions about the Administrative Conference on Education; ACE, and then I asked her to respond to the factual accuracy of my post exposing the conflict of interest scandal surrounding the ACE at the Inn of the Mountain Gods.

In early August, I asked to respond to the factual accuracy of my post on the student militia defending Manzano High School.

This week I asked her to communicate the position of individual board members on the issue of the scope of the upcoming administrative accountability audit.

It is a reasonable question. The decision on the scope of the audit is arguably the most important decision this board will ever make; they will decide whether to end corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS; or continue to tolerate and enable them.

It is reasonable to expect each board member to lay their position on the table for stakeholder examination and input.

It is reasonable to expect Monica Armenta to respond to the question.

Yesterday I complicated the issue by adding another question; How can the board justify removing the public forum from the broadcast public record of board meetings?

I asked her to acknowledge that she had received my email, and was not stonewalling me.

Armenta's response;

Mr. MacQuigg,
You should not take offense if you don't get answers anytime soon. I still haven't read emails from two weeks ago - there are that many.

If you have an issue of urgency please go through the normal process of requesting public records. Our focus is always student achievement and that's how we prioritize our work.
Monica Armenta

Apparently the latest member of the APS $100,000/yr club; three months into her new job, is already two weeks behind.

Either that or she is lying about being two weeks behind to escape accountability for refusing to answer questions about the public interest.

"Our focus is always student achievement and that's how we prioritize our work."

I would argue that telling the truth will do more to raise student achievement, than not telling the truth.

I would argue that telling the truth should be the highest priority of senior public servants in the public schools.

Charlie Moore, Journal editor waiting for the story to unfold before he assigns a reporter;

... it is unfolded enough; assign an investigative reporter.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bob Johnson Gets a Bouquet, and the Shaft

Tribune editors gave Bob Johnson a bouquet tonight. (can't find a link); all the while giving his cause, open government, the shaft.

The thing that bothers me most about the leadership of the APS is their betrayal of Character Counts. I cannot imagine hypocrisy worse than claiming to be an advocate of Character Counts in public, and then betraying its fundamental principles in secret.

Sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you've got it made. unk.
What bothers me almost as much, is editors blowing about Bob Johnson's work for open government in public, and then betraying what he believed in, in secret.

If the editors of the Trib really had any respect at all for Bob Johnson's efforts toward open government; they wouldn't be covering up the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

They would be demanding disclosure of the public record of incompetence and corruption in the leadership of the APS.

Unfolding Stories

The Journal's Charlie Moore says he will write about the controversy over the scope of the upcoming audit as it unfolds.

It is not yet unfolded enough?

Several years ago, Board Member Robert Lucero tabled a motion before the board. The motion would have made stonewalling on issues of public interest, a violation of an enforceable policy.

At about the same time, Board Member Mary Lee Martin disposed of a motion which would have made unethical conduct by members of the leadership of the APS, a violation of an enforceable policy.

Since that time; the board has created a whistle blower policy that, deliberately, offers no protection to those who expose ethical misconduct, incompetence and most kinds of criminal misconduct, by members of the leadership of the APS.

They rewrote the employee code of conduct. They removed the part where it said; in no case shall the standard of conduct for adults be lower than the standard for students.; effectively abdicating as the senior role models of the student standard of conduct.

They had their (our) insurance premiums raised by the districts insurers because the leadership of the APS spends way more money on litigation than other districts in similar circumstances. That "more money" going to a law firm run by the School Board President's husband.

They have been impartially audited and found to be unaccountable to any meaningful standard of conduct.

Board President Paula Maes announced in open meeting that she will not allow individual administrators, for example Tom Savage, to be held accountable for their conduct and competence as public servants, by means of an honest full scale audit of the public interests in the public schools.

They are hiding information of public interest from public knowledge. Taxpayers are paying the district's lawyers to litigate exception to the law for senior administrators and board members.

  • As a result, the public still has not seen documents that represent the truth about Gradegate,
  • nor have they seen the public records of the public corruption and criminal conspiracy in the leadership of the APS Police Department,
  • nor have they seen the evidence of the squandering of the public trust and treasure in the Uptown Administrative Complex;
  • nor do they know how much money Paula Maes has made off of the APS/Modrall,
  • nor do they know how much money, how many tax dollars are diverted to the Journal and the Trib for advertising, and whatever else that kind of money can buy.

Mr. Moore, it is unfolded a mile wide and a foot deep; exactly how far must this unfold before the Journal begins to fulfill its obligation to inform stakeholders about the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS?

Charlie Moore Responds

I've been trying to pin down Journal editor Charlie Moore on some justification for the Journal's heretofore failure to investigate or report upon the controversy over the scope of the upcoming administrative accountability audit. He has finally responded;

Mr. MacQuigg,
We will be following this story as it unfolds.
Thanks for the note.
Charlie Moore
News Flash Mr. Moore, the story is unfolded.

The only part of the story that is not unfolded is the part where the board votes to limit the scope of the audit and let all their cronies in the leadership of the APS, slide on their personal incompetence and corruption as public servants.

At which point covering the vote, will come too late to enable stakeholders in influence the vote.

But then that isn't really breaking news to Charlie Moore, is it?

Who's on First?

I was trying to pry loose some information about the meeting at the Inn of the Mountain Gods. My questions to underlings were being routinely referred to overlings; so my questions were ending up on Monica Armenta's desk. I had gotten the impression that I was imposing on her time so I wrote; "I will have a few follow up questions. Am I correctly addressing them to you; or should I be addressing them elsewhere?"

She seemed to take offense and "yelled" back; "We answer ALL the questions we can ..."

Well, not quite "ALL" it seems.

I want the individual leaders of the APS to enter into the public record their positions on the scope of the upcoming audit. So I asked Armenta; What is the justification for insisting that the upcoming audit, not audit the individual conduct and competence of public servants in the administration of the public schools?"

She said; "Your question was forwarded to Brenda Yager as it concerned the Board of Education."

So I asked Ms. Yager; "Are there lines drawn between who speaks for the board, who speaks for administration, and who speaks for "APS"?"

Her reply was; "I referred this question to Monica (Armenta)."

Although I have repeatedly ask Ms. Armenta to acknowledge that she has received my emailed questions; she steadfastly insists on denying me that common courtesy. She is maintaining "plausible deniability" apparently.

The closest thing I have gotten to an answer to the question; What are the intentions of individual board members concerning the scope of the upcoming audit? is; "Since definite decisions have not been made about the audit, it is premature to make any statements about the direction or what the board will or will not allow at this point."

Apparently we are to wait until a decision has been made, in order to find out in which direction the decision is leaning.

This makes it very difficult for the public to have input with their representatives on the board. It is also the way Board Members like Paula Maes and Robert Lucero like it.

During the policy committee meeting where it was decided whether or not APS Police Officers would be armed while on duty; Paula Maes had already made her motion to keep them unarmed, and the motion had been seconded, before public input was allowed.

Public input apparently means; "We will do whatever we want to do; and then "listen" to what the public thinks."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

NMSU audit identifies $628,000 in cost overruns

according to blogger Heath Haussamen. You will have to scroll down to find the article by that name.

Haussamen reports; "The audit that led last week to changes at New Mexico State University’s Office of Facilities and Services identified cost overruns totaling more than $628,000 on nine projects ..."

Imagine what would be revealed by an audit of the millions of dollars that the leadership of the APS has spent on the Uptown Administrative Complex.

And now you can understand why they are compelled to fight an audit like their jobs depended on it.

I am looking for a state senator or representative

willing to sponsor a bill in the upcoming legislature.

The bill would require that every public works project budget include within that budget; funding for an impartial forensic audit of the entire project upon its completion.

The intent would be to reduce corruption and incompetence by making them impossibly hard to hide.

Charlie Moore; City Editor, Albuquerque Journal

It is he, I am told, who owns the decision. The decision; whether or not to investigate and report upon the controversy over scope of the upcoming audit of the administration of the APS.

Not only is the story ignored; but so is my every effort to get someone on the Journal; to get Charlie Moore,
to explain why they will not publish the truth.

I have made considerable effort to determine every possible explanation for the failure.

Only two present themselves;
Charlie Moore is a coward. Or he is corrupt.

He is afraid of the corrupt and incompetent political establishment who do not want honest accountability for public servants.

Or, he is in cahoots with the corrupt in the political establishment and will help them keep accountability (audits) out of political discourse, and off the table.

I have made every effort I can imagine, to give him the opportunity to respond.

In the absence of any alternate explanation;

Charlie Moore is a coward, or he is corrupt, or both.

...and he is not alone
in the leadership of the Journal and the Trib.

Editorial Honors and Betrays Bob Johnson

From an editorial in this morning's Journal.

Last Saturday, Bob Johnson passed. The 84 year old executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government was one of the major forces behind the concept of open government in New Mexico.

State Attorney General Gary King acknowledged that "Bob ... was one of the major forces behind the concept of open government in New Mexico."

"We'll all have to work hard to preserve his legacy."

Journal editors
will work hard to preserve his legacy,
by helping the leadership of the APS keep secret
their efforts to eliminate any honest accountability
for themselves, to any meaningful standard of conduct.

They will honor their "friend" by working hard to make sure that stakeholders never learn of the controversy over the scope of the upcoming audit; and therefore never have an opportunity to stand up for what they believe in.

With friends like this, who needs enemies?
Shame on you, editors.

Shame on you.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Teaching to the Test is Bad Practice

No Child Left Behind requires that teachers teach to the test.

Learning requires the willing participation of the learner.

The more immature among learners, will participate willingly, only, in learning material that interests or excites them.

NCLB testing measures learning only in subjects that rarely interest or motivate these learners.

NCLB requires then, that teachers teach only material that doesn't interest learners.

At the expense of teaching material that is intrinsically motivating.

And at the expense of developing students who are interested and motivated to learn.

The Leadership of the Journal and Trib

are moral cowards, corrupt, or both.

Their failure to investigate and report upon the controversy over the scope of the upcoming APS Administrative Accountability Audit, supports no other conclusion.

Any alternate explanation from anyone,
anonymous or no;
will be published uncensored.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Every Board Member and Administrator

who opposes an audit, tacitly or overtly; and who does not offer any other justification for their opposition;

opposes an audit in order to protect from discovery their own, or some other's record of incompetence and/or corruption.

Any APS administrator or board member who does not stand up in support of an honest and impartial audit, lacks the moral courage to be a role model for the student standard of conduct for 90,000 students in the APS.

Any alternate explanation from anyone,
anonymous or no;
will be published uncensored.

Whistle-blowing ...earns punishment...

according to the story in the Trib.

"The only way we can find out what is going on is for someone to come forward and let us know."

"But when they do, the weight of the government comes down on them."

"The message is, `Don't blow the whistle, or we'll make your life hell."

"It's heartbreaking,"

"There is an even greater need for whistle-blowers now. But they are made into public martyrs. It's a disgrace. Their lives get ruined."

said Beth Daley of the Project on Government Oversight, an independent, nonprofit group that investigates corruption.

"Sometimes people ask me, `Should I do this?' And my answer is no."

"If they're married, they'll lose their family. They will lose their jobs. They will lose everything,"

"If you do it, you will be destroyed,"

said William Weaver, professor of political science at the University of Texas-El Paso and senior adviser to the National Security Whistle-blowers Coalition.

Reading the story triggered an anxious response in me;
bringing back all the repressed memories of the consequences I suffered as a whistle-blower.

Consequences that pale in comparison to those suffered by a man who I have come to know recently. He blew the whistle on a fraud involving hundreds of thousands of tax dollars at APS' Charter Vocational High School. For standing in defense of the public interests, he was beaten nearly to death in the parking lot of the school he was protecting, as a police officer.

I would not compare my experience to his except for their one commonality; the administrators, board members, and lawyers who run APS still deny us both, a principled resolution of our complaints of retribution and retaliation.

No one who has not blown the whistle on public corruption, can even begin to understand the torrent of abuse that ensues.

A whistle-blower's complaint is not defended by the individual subject of the complaint. A principled resolution of the complaint will be resisted by the entire organization and all of the resources it can bring to bear.

In 2003, the Council of the Great City Schools audited the administration of the APS. They concluded that the culture of the APS included retribution and retaliation against whistle-blowers.

The culture of the leadership of the APS has not changed since that audit. Monica Armenta can not provide a single record that shows a change in policy as the result of that audit.

The Council of the Great City Schools, in its most recent audit, specifically cited the failure of the leadership of the APS to address problems identified in previous audits.

Consider the Whistle-blower policy most recently adopted by the leadership of the APS.

The policy protects only those employees who " possible unlawful or dishonest use or misuse of Albuquerque Public School property...".

A teacher who reports a principal who falsifies public records of fire drills, and lies to the student council in order to manipulate the outcome of their deliberations; can still see his or her career and reputation destroyed by malevolent administrators and board members, who are themselves protected the Modrall law firm.

By the deliberate decision of the school board, five of whom still sit on the school board, no protection is offered to those who report incompetence and corruption. Those whistle-blowers will suffer all of the consequences that can be mustered by the leadership of the APS and their law firm; Modrall.

The lawyers of the Modrall law firm, whose President is married to School Board President Paula Maes, feed at a virtually bottomless trough of taxpayer support for "education". The public record of their feeding habits will not be surrendered even in apparent violation of the law.

The Modrall law firm litigates to protect the interests of the leadership of the APS; even at the expense of the public interests.

Their record, the record that they steadfastly refuse to surrender to public knowledge, includes litigating exceptions to the law. It is a record including litigating escape from the consequences of public corruption and incompetence.

No one in the leadership of the APS will ever be held accountable for retribution and retaliation against whistle-blowers by a system that they control; protected by unscrupulous lawyers and unlimited resources.

An honest audit of the competence and conduct of the leadership of the APS, will take place over the considerable objection of the corrupt and the incompetent in the leadership of the APS, and their lawyers at Modrall.

They are protected as well by the Journal and Trib
who have an inescapable, albeit unenforceable obligation
to report the truth to stakeholders;

...and will not.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

It is bad science, normally,

to argue that a hypothesis is proven simply because there is no other hypothesis that is consistent with the data.

Never the less I will argue that because there is no other credible explanation for the circumstances, my hypothesis is proven.

My hypothesis is;
the leadership of the Journal and the Tribune are deliberately and methodically covering up the extent of the corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS.

The data;

  • There is going to be an audit of the administration of the APS.
  • In controversy; the scope of the audit.
  • the audit will be limited to meaningless comparisons to other school districts with similar demographics;
  • or the audit will expose the incompetence and corruption in the leadership of the APS.

The decision that will determine the scope of the audit, is the single most important decision that this school board will ever make.

Stakeholders are completely unaware of the controversy;

because the Journal and the Trib
have yet to print a single word about it.

Neither has offered any explanation, defense, or will even acknowledge that the question has been raised.

Stonewalling is the only defense of an indefensible position.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Open Letter to the Editors

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you know, there is a controversy in the leadership of the APS. There is going to be an administrative audit of the leadership of the APS. The controversy stems over the scope of the audit.

One group of administrators and board members would have the audit limited to drawing comparisons with administrations in districts of similar demographics. That audit will not expose a single incompetent or corrupt administrator or board member.

On the other hand, every single corrupt and incompetent administrator and board member will be exposed by an audit of the conduct and competence of public servants within their public service in the public schools.

To the extent that "silence gives consent"; to the extent "that you pick a side when you don't pick a side"; you are one with those whose record of conduct and competence cannot survive an audit..

You are offered an opportunity to defend your position by posting a comment on this post.

You have not offered any excuse for your failure to stand up for what you know is right; to stand up for what I would have thought you believed in.

It is time for those who think it is important that APS students grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor;

... to step up and show them what it looks like.

Students' Lunch Money Extorted

Okay, extortion is too strong a word. Perhaps, "unnecessarily extracted" from students. And to pay for what exactly?

It used to be that if lunch money was being taken from little kids, it was by the school bully. Now, it is being taken from them by the leadership of the APS.

It is like an ATM; parents put money in online, and students can eat lunch without having to remember to take lunch money to school.

Parents are surcharged every time they add money to the account.

If a parent could only afford to refill the account every two weeks, the surcharge would amount to a 10% surcharge. If their budget is so strained as to only allow weekly refills, the surcharge amounts to 20%. If the family is poor enough to qualify for reduce fee lunches; the surcharge percentage can double; the high cost of being poor.

But, according to the Journal editorial (sub req); "myLunchMoney says on its site that the service is free— though individual districts may institute transaction fees."

APS has instituted a transaction fee. The editors would like to know, why?

So would a number of lower income parents, I would suspect.

Concrete Learners on the APS School Board Get a Concrete Example

In the end, it was only an intoxicated former La Cueva High School student looking for a copy of his transcript; according to a report in the Trib.

He could have been armed, as was first reported to the APS Police. They went through their little rigmarole in order to secure their weapons from the trunks of their cars. If the ex-student had been there to shoot a former teacher, or rival gang members, or what ever; the results would have underlined the need to end the ridiculous added step of retrieving their weapons; but far too late to have prevented the initial violence.

Am I the only one who remembers Deputy Barney Fife from Mayberry; and how he was allowed to carry his gun, but was only allowed to carry one bullet in his pocket? And how he had to get Andy's permission to load the gun?

And how that was funny, simply because it was so preposterous?

APS M&O Emergency Reserves are Gone

The Trib reports that the emergency reserve funds in the M&O budget are gone.

"John Dufay, deputy director of the district's Maintenance and Operations Department, gave the figures and acknowledged that they add up.

"These kinds of things are never in the budget, but it has to come out of it," Dufay said.

Two months into the school year, the district's Maintenance and Operations emergency reserves are essentially gone, according to Dufay. But he's confident that other district reserves can cover any further expenses."

The district could also appeal for aid from the Legislature to cover any really large unforeseen issues, Dufay said.

One would hope that our legislators, before appropriating more tax dollars to the APS, will ask for an honest accounting of the money spent by the leadership of the APS on unnecessary renovation of the Uptown Administrative Complex.

So far, the leadership of the APS has declined to provide illumination, explanation, or justification for the money spent on their house, while students swelter in poorly air conditioned classrooms with leaking roofs.

Transparency? Not!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Diogenes Poll

I think that the controversy over the scope of the upcoming audit of the leadership of the APS is newsworthy. I believe that the Journal should inform stakeholders about that controversy.

What do you think?

Please take a moment to vote.

School Board Continues to Stonewall Gradegate Investigation

With the reporting on Elsy Fierro's effort to have her case resolved and reappearance of gradegate in the media, we are reminded that the Maes, Lucero, et al, are still stonewalling in response to board member Marty Esquivel's request for an independent impartial investigation of the facts surrounding gradegate.

At one point, he and board member Gordon Rowe were threatening to subpoena the truth from the administration.

All of which fuels speculation that Beth Everitt cut a deal with Maes, Lucero, et al; trading her resignation for immunity from further investigation and revelation of her part in the scandal.

Give Embattled APS Administrator Her Day

The Journal editors have demanded that Elsy Fierro be given "her day" "because the unresolved allegations undermine her reputation and authority."

Their demand targeted the NMPED, saying that they/it, "... shouldn't wait for a gavel rapping on the door" and that they, "Get off the dime, resolve this matter, ..."

Too bad that they didn't demand to know why the NMPED has done nothing.

Nobody wants more than Beth Everitt, to see this thing all go away without an investigation or public revelation of her participation in the grade change.

So far, the NMPED has conducted an "official" investigation that didn't include an interview with Beth Everitt. She is yet to answer a single question on the record, or under oath.

I am led to believe that the NMPED and the NMEED
have done nothing because;

Beth Everitt has juice with her husband,
who has juice with Bill Richardson,
who has juice with the Secretary of Education,
who has juice with the Director of the NMEEB.
The last thing Elsy Fierro needs is for the NMPED and NMEED to get off the dime. Her interests are best served by relative impartiality of a court hearing.

The editors concluded that, "... since Fierro wants to clear any cloud, she should insist on a public proceeding." (emphasis added)

It seems like the editors have at once
no idea what is really going on,
and a total understanding what is going on;

but then cannot,or will not separate them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Site Based Management and the Peter Principle

According to Wikipedia; "The Generalized Peter Principle states; anything that works, will be used in progressively challenging applications until it causes a disaster."

The plan of the leaders of the APS, is to individually control as much decision making power and resources as possible in order to make decisions that affect as many people as possible. It is an approach that perpetuates the need for powerful administrators that is justified only by its existence, and not by the need for its existence.

It is a circular argument, we need powerful administrators to make global decisions in a system that makes global decisions because it has powerful administrators.

If asked, they will say that their plan works; even in the face of compelling and ever mounting evidence to the contrary.

A headmaster makes the most sense in a one room school house. It makes less sense in a school with a hundred classrooms; less sense still in a cluster of a dozen schools, and no sense at all in a district with one hundred and twenty three schools.

In situations that do not vary in their essential characteristic, a unified approach makes sense.

The essential characteristics of individual schools in the APS vary immensely. A unified, one size fits all, approach to decision making may well do more harm than good.

APS is too diverse, too large, too complicated to be run by one person; or by seven.

Journal Editors Kick APS Cops When They're Down

The editors have concluded that it is mathematically unlikely that all 27 APS Cops would all get sick on the same day. Calculating the "odds" of that happening, they wrote, is well within the ability of the students that went unprotected Friday morning.

(In fact, the mathematics of calculating those odds is well beyond the ability of all but a very few APS students, but editors are allowed poetic license to make their point.)

It is unfortunate that they missed the point; again.

The real story is not the sick out, but the situation that creates the feeling that a sick out was their only viable option; the only way that their concerns would be reported in the (APS controlled) media.

The Journal editors should write an editorial about how the mainstream media steadfastly refuses to investigate or report upon the dysfunction, the incompetence, the corruption and the unchecked effects of the Peter Principle in the leadership of the APS, which drives employees to extreme responses like sick outs.

APS Official Seeks Ethics Hearing

APS' Elsy Fierro picked the short straw when the leadership of the APS went looking for a scapegoat for gradegate.

After an "investigation" by the state Public Education Department, an investigation that didn't investigate Beth Everitt's part in the play; it was decided that Elsy Fierro would be referred to the Educator Ethics Bureau to face ethics charges.

The NM Educator Ethics Bureau has since, done squat.

Despite the fact that Paul Calderon, who heads the ethics bureau, was part of the investigating team, his bureau is still "investigating" the situation. A spokeswoman for the NMPED said the ethics investigation is "continuing".

It would appear that the NMPED and the NMEEB, suffer from incompetence, corruption, or both.

According to the Journal, Fierro has asked a state district judge to order a hearing.

She thinks a hearing will clear her name. The fact that she is insisting on a hearing tends to substantiate that claim. Innocent people welcome an examination of the truth.

When you are looking for the guilty; look first for the ones who are trying to prevent a timely, honest and impartial examination of the facts; those who are hiding the truth.

In this case, that would be the leadership of the APS, the NMPED, and the NMEEB.

Cool Schools? Not This Week

Maybe never.

The Journal reports that APS is running fans 24 hours a day in hot schools to cool them.

The only problem with that strategy is that fans are in fact, little heaters. Every watt of energy that goes into a fan ends up heating the room.

Fans only seem to cool when they are directed at moist skin. The increased evaporation of water from the skin cools the skin, making students feel cooler even though the room is marginally warmer. It makes no sense to run fans to cool rooms without people in them.

Submitted as proof that subjective evaluations of administrators feed the Peter Principle.

and hot classrooms even hotter.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Everything That is Wrong With the Administration of the APS

And I mean everything that is wrong with the administration of the APS, flows from two wells; incompetence and corruption.

I welcome anyone to suggest anything about the administration that can be fixed; that isn't the direct or consequent result of either corruption or incompetence.

If one could wave a magic wand and send every corrupt and/or incompetent APS administrator home to spend more time with their families; what problem with the administration would not be fixed?

There is a magic wand.

It is called the first
Annual APS Administrative Accountability Audit.

And the only people who have any reason to oppose it;

are the ones that it will sweep away.

... everyone else lives happily ever after.

APS Warned About Records

In an article (sub req) by that title in the Journal,

An attorney representing Teresa Cordova warned the district not to release her son's records to those investigating the matter; including the state Public Education Department.

"The letter was sent 10 days after news of the grade change broke and days after one board member called for an independent investigation."

Córdova stressed that the intent of the letter wasn't to stop any investigation."

Yet the independent investigation was never done.

Beth Everitt never answered a single question on the record.

The Educator Ethics Bureau still has not finished its "investigation".

Nor will it, ...ever.

Taxpayer's Paid for a Search for Ways for Robert Lucero to Get Around the Law

From a Journal editorial (sub req)

"School board member Robert Lucero has suggested withholding the names of applicants for superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools until the field was winnowed down. He and board member Gordon Rowe asked board attorney Art Melendres to research applicability of the law to a private search firm. "We might be able to get around some of the issues" that have forced other local governments to open up administrator searches, he said."

What he and Rowe were looking for was a way to get around some of the issues (like open government laws).

I resent the use of my tax dollars to pay lawyers from the school board president's law firm, to find ways for the leadership of the APS to break laws without being held accountable.

This is what I am writing about when I argue that the leadership of the APS is not accountable; even to the law.

This is what I am writing about when I argue that Paula Maes, Robert Lucero, et al, are using public resources (to litigate) against the public interest.

Journal Editors and I Are in Agreement

Last Thursday I wrote;

Secrecy in (the search for a new superintendent) process serves no legitimate purpose.

It serves only the interests of candidates who would deliberately mislead the stakeholders in their current situation.

This morning the Journal editors wrote; (sub req)

(A secret search for a new superintendent) "Seems like a process that would tend to select for sneakier administrators, which hardly bodes well for transparency and accountability during their tenure."

Journal editors are on the right track.

We await now, only their arrival at the station;
an investigation and report upon the scope of the upcoming APS Administrative Accountability Audit.

Conflict of Interest?

The leadership of the APS pays the Journal/Trib a lot of money every year.

When a request for the public records of public resources flowing into the Journal and Trib, was sent to Rigo Chavez, APS' custodian of public records; the requested records were not surrendered.

The Journal/Trib steadfastly refuse to investigate or report upon issues surrounding the complete lack of accountability to any meaningful standard of conduct, of the leadership of the APS .

They refuse to investigate and report upon, for example,
the controversy over the scope of the upcoming administrative audit. A number of the leadership of the APS are bound and determined that the audit will not audit the record of their conduct and competence as public servants.

Their record will not stand public scrutiny; they are in fact, damned by their record.

It is to their advantage that neither the Journal nor the Trib reveal that there is a controversy over the scope of the upcoming audit. So far, the Journal and Trib have obliged.

While the Journal and Trib are not accountable to any standard of conduct that prohibits their participation in situations that stink of a conflict of interest;
the leadership of the APS is. least in theory.

Monday, August 20, 2007

No Comment From Monica Armenta

I received no response from Monica Armenta regarding the accuracy of the allegation that student athletes at Manzano High School have been conscripted into a student militia charged with breaking up fights between other students.

Two possibilities exist; 1) there is an ethical explanation for Armenta's failure to tell the truth about the accuracy of the allegation, or, 2) she is stonewalling.

If the allegations are true, she cannot admit that they are, nor can she deny them (if the draft was announced over the all call at MHS, there are too many credible witnesses to get away with denying that it happened).

The only defense of an indefensible position is to stonewall.

Why does something that happened at Manzano maybe two years ago, make any difference at this point?

In the first place, if the practice was in place two years ago, it might be in place now. Armenta has not denied that student athletes are currently having their personal safety placed in jeopardy by a categorically indefensible solution to the district's failure to provide adequate security at Manzano HS. If they are, it must be exposed and ended forthwith.

Even if the practice has ended, the fact that it ever existed reflects on the personal and professional judgment of a man who is reportedly on the short list to be the next superintendent.

The leadership of the APS, dba Monica Armenta.
owes stakeholders the truth.

Trib Editorial Rips the APS School Board

The Trib editors are upset that the APS school board has failed to bring the APS Police Department up to par. In their editorial, they point out, correctly, that the board had all summer to come up with a fix for "...dysfunctional school security policies; an ill-equipped and essentially defenseless police force; and a Police Department that is disintegrating before our eyes."

They cited "...the long-term student safety ramifications of this board's failure again on Thursday to take the school security bull by the horns."

The concluded that; "It's time for the APS Board of Education to act like adults elected, in part, to ensure the safety of our kids and schools."

So where is the problem? Why has so little been done?

Apparently no one knows; certainly not taxpayers, parents, and all of the other stakeholders in the community; ignorance for which the Trib, and the Journal are responsible in no small part.

When I write letters to the editors about their paper's failure to cover the underlying issues in the leadership of the APS; I am always reminded that they have no influence over those who decide which issues will be brought to the attention of their readers.

Perhaps what we need from the editors is an editorial that takes the rest of the Trib to task for their failure to investigate and report upon the issues responsible for the do nothing (but screw up) leadership of the APS.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Characteristics of the Next Superintendent

For what it is worth; my opinion on what APS needs the next superintendent to accomplish.

  1. Restore community confidence in the leadership of the APS.
  2. Maximize the amount of resources available at the educational interface by eliminating administrative waste.
  3. Institutionalize transparent accountability in the administration of the public interests in the public schools.
  4. Establish honest accountability for the conduct and competence of leadership, and then all APS employees by personal example.
  5. Restore the authority of adults over students in schools.
  6. Develop a district wide discipline philosophy.
  7. Increase the level of community engagement in public education.
  8. Enable and support site based management of schools; increase the meaningful participation of stakeholders in the decision making process.
  9. Establish as the top administrative priority, the delegation of decision making power and resources directly to the educational interface.
  10. Increase the level of student engagement in their education.
  11. Increase the number and availability of after and outside of school activities for students.

Unchecked Power

means never having to say you're sorry.

No senior APS administrator has been held accountable for gradegate;

nor for the squandering of the public trust and treasure at the Uptown Administrative Complex;

nor for the public corruption and criminal conspiracy in the leadership of the APS PD;

nor for hiding the truth about that corruption and incompetence from stakeholders;

nor for the disenfranchisement of stakeholders during the principals shuffle;

nor for falsifying the public record of board meetings;

nor for routinely using public resources against the public interests;

nor for ...

APS Volunteers Will Need to Pay for Own Background Checks

In an article by the Journal's Andrea Schoellkopf, it is revealed that volunteers in APS schools will have to pay for their own background checks; $34.00.

Last year, almost 1,000 volunteers took advantage of a grant that paid for their background checks.

According to the article, "The head of the state PTA said she was not aware the funding had expired and was concerned about the impact on local schools."

Paul Broome, the mayor's education coordinator, said Chávez is trying to find money. "There's nothing in the budget to do it," Broome said. "I don't believe the parents should be responsible for this cost."

"We would love to have some more funding," said Patti Nabors, APS director of human resources operations. "APS does not have the funding to do it."

APS cannot come up with $34,000 dollars.

Unless of course, they want to underwrite an administrative soiree at the Inn of the Mountain Gods.

"Rio Deserves Real Change This Time"

There is an op-ed piece in the Journal this morning; (link thanks to Natalie).

It is written by Barbara Armijo, unidentified except by name.

She writes about Rio Grande High School and the limited success that it is having in providing a high school education to students there.

The problem at Rio Grande, and at other failing schools, is people who attack problems by first coining a cute phrase to embroider upon their banner. APS' slogan is "Every Child Can Learn."

On its face, the slogan is nonsense. Consider the child who does not want to learn. Those who think that they can educate a child against the child's will are delusional.

I have believed for a long time that there is no such thing as "teaching". There is only learning. Those who function as teachers are there to facilitate learning; they are there to make learning as easy as is possible. In the end, learning is the responsibility of the learner, and if they don't want to learn, they will not. Consider the old saw; you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

So the students who don't want to learn are stuffed into classrooms with the students who do want to learn, with an absolutely predictable result; no one learns to their capacity.

At most, you can explain to a child all of the advantages of an education; you can try to make education fun and interesting. But you cannot motivate a child to want something that they don't want.

So what do you do with those who do not want to learn; who show up at school each day, not to learn, but to hang out and invariably end up causing trouble?

Perhaps I don't have all the answers to that question. But I do know that the question needs to be answered.

And I do know what isn't an answer to the question; to march under a banner proclaiming Every Child Can Learn (the same curriculum). And I do know that putting kids who don't want to learn, including chronically disruptive students, in the same class rooms with children who do want to learn, is done at the expense of the learning process for everyone.

In other parts of the world, they recognize this fact, and separate serious students from other students. It is not tracking. It is not racism. It is not class-ism. Students are not forced to become laborers if they want to become rocket scientists.

It is simply a pragmatic and realistic solution to a real problem.

Acccording to Armijo; "Another "basic" approach, throwing money at the problem, hasn't helped. Rio gets nearly $1 million a year on top of state per-student funding."

Neither has throwing more "leaders" at a problem.

APS' new plan; "Deputy Superintendent Tom Savage, who will spend "Mondays" at the school, and Associate Superintendent Linda Sink, are the latest educational makeover artists at Rio." according to the Journal.

Have we learned nothing from gradegate? Weren't RGHS Principal Al Sanchez and his colleagues doing much better before the leadership of APS stepped in to help?

The idea that problems can be solved by throwing more leaders at it, is manifest administrative conceit and arrogance.

How many teachers left Rio last May thinking; Jeez, if only Tom Savage and Linda Sink were here? How many left the first staff meeting this year thinking; Tom Savage and Linda sink are here; Oh fabious day, calloo, callay!

Has anyone asked a Rio teacher what they think they need? Perhaps instead of two new administrators; they would rather have seven or eight social workers, or twenty or thirty more campus aides.

It has been observed that doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result, is the essence of insanity.

Perhaps what they need at Rio, is some sanity.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Student Militia at Manzano High School?

The following allegation has been reported to me by a person who comments anonymously on my blog. I have no first hand knowledge.

Principal Tim Whalen, or anyone else from the APS may post a rebuttal if they so choose.

It was last year, or the year before, there had been a number of fights during lunch time at Manzano High School.

Vice Principal Tony Carrillo told the basketball and football teams that it was their duty to stop fights because they were role models; and that MHS did so much for them, they should give something back to MHS.

A few days later, Principal Whalen got on the loudspeaker during announcements and said basically the same thing.

Student athletes were uncomfortable and asked this teacher a number of questions:

  • "Can we get in trouble if we don't break up fights?"
  • "Can we get in trouble for fighting if we break up fights?"
  • "What if they have knifes or weapons?"
  • "Are they gonna train us for this?"
  • "Are we expected to put ourselves in danger?"
  • "Should we get involved if adults are already there?"
  • "Should we help the adults with fights?"
  • "How will they know if we're fighting or breaking it up?"
  • "Do we leave the class to break up a fight outside?"
I would like to know if students at Manzano High School are, or ever have been asked by the administration to break up fights between other students.

I would appreciate a candid, forthright, and honest answer.

If any other teachers from Manzano, or other schools have first hand information on this issue; you may contact me with absolute anonymity through a comment on this post. I moderate comments, so you can still us the comment option even if you do not want your comment posted. Just let me know.

A link to this post has been sent to Monica Armenta for rebuttal.

What are you thinking?

It's lunch time at a local high school. There is a gang fight going on in the parking lot. There are two hundred high school students watching the fight and cheering them on. Some of them will throw stuff at you or spit on you
as you wade into the fight.

You are an APS Police Officer, unarmed and underpaid.

What are you thinking?

Who would trade places with them for the next hour

...for fourteen bucks?

Superintendent Search Open After All

According to the Journal, (sub req) Earlier this week, the board, at their regularly scheduled board meeting, approved a plan that would have made public only the names of the top three superintendent candidates.

Yesterday, presumably at the board's study session on the superintendent search, the board reversed its position, deciding to open up the search and make the names of candidates public.

Two days after voting to accept a search plan the would keep candidates names secret (even in violation of the law); Board President
Maes said; "Regardless of what the law says, I think this board is feeling it needs to be an open process."

The article offered no explanation for the abrupt about face. I suspect that her lawyers informed her that they would not be able to except her from the requirements of the law; and now she would like people to believe that that was her an open search was her intention all along.

The change is none the less, welcome.

Friday, August 17, 2007

No meant yes, Maes says

According to KRQE with videos of the whole day as it unfolded.

Maes says she voted against the recommendations the APS Police were wanting; but was really voting for them.

The confusion stems from Maes motion which started out concisely but then deteriorated into a rambling explanation of pretty much all of the thoughts going through her head at the moment.

By the time the motion is expressed; everyone is hopelessly confused about what they are voting on.

Again Robert Lucero called the question and the committee chairperson did not take a vote to call the question.

It is time for the board to get some training in Parliamentary Procedure/Robert's Rules of Order so that the keystone cops routine for handling motions does not continue. They need a professional, or at least a capable parliamentarian to attend to their meetings.

Maybe someone could explain to Robert Lucero that when he wants to make a motion, he should say; I move, or I would like to make a motion, instead of saying I motion that ...

Paul Broome, the mayor's education adviser

according to the Trib, criticized the board for not resolving the gun issue and not endorsing the commission's work.

"This is a classic example of what the mayor has been talking about. This school board won't make the hard decisions. They put everything off. They don't take a stand," he said. (emphasis added)

Well if that ain't the pot callin the kettle black;

Marty Chavez doesn't have the balls to take a stand
on the scope of the APS Administrative Accountability Audit.

And he doesn't have the balls to take a stand
on the APS leadership's renunciation of the student standard of conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts.

Who is he to chide anyone on taking a stand.

Can You Believe ANYTHING Robert Lucero Says?

According to Robert Lucero, despite the fact that 26 of 33 APS Police Officers called in sick today; "There's no question our schools are very, very safe today."

According to KOB-TV Acting Albuquerque Public Schools Police Chief Steve Tellez Tellez, at a mid morning news conference, pointed out that school officers had to break up a large fight at West Mesa High School on Thursday using mace, two gang fights at Rio Grande earlier in the week, and another fight at Valley.

Robert Lucero you will recall assured us last January, that the charges brought against his buddy Gil Lovato were unfounded and simply the unsubstantiated claims of a disgruntled former employee.

Always one to take the high road, Lucero then said;
"It kind of reminds me of a child throwing a temper tantrum," he said. "The fact they could do this is incredibly childish."

Compare Lucero's response to Marty Esquivel's;
Board member Marty Esquivel said he didn't agree with the sick-out tactic, although he can understand officers' frustration with the gun issue. School police should realize there will be more discussion about the gun policy, he said.

"It's not over, although they seem to think it's over."

At some point, Robert Lucero's constituents need to recall him.

Sick Out; Ill Advised

There was a sick out, apparently, among APS Police Officers this morning. It would have been in response to the policy committee's decision to let APS Police Officers continue to confront potentially armed delinquents, themselves unarmed and underpaid.

For what it's worth; my opinion is that the sick out will probably have done more harm than good. The comments left on the story in the Trib bear me out. However, I have no need to convince anyone out of their opinion and into my mine, on this issue; so we'll just leave it at that.

Having said that, I must say that I absolutely understand the level of frustration that compelled their choice. I can't tell you how many committees that I sat on, under the impression that I and other stakeholders were participating meaningfully in making a decision that affected our interests, only to have an administrator make the decision based on his/her own.

Mike Houser, a former APS senior administrator explained it thusly; "There is a reason we give them the set of master keys."

It has been proved again, that the stakeholders are not being allowed to participate meaningfully in the decisions that affect their interests. The leadership of the APS has no intention of delegating any of the decision making power entrusted to them. They cannot delegate power without exposing themselves to accountability for their conduct and competence as public servants.

If there were site based management in the APS; there would be a full scale, comprehensive and impartial audit of the conduct and competence of the administration of the public interests in the public schools, underway.

But there is not site based management; there is not meaningful stakeholder participation in decision making; and that is why it is the leadership of the APS who will decide whether or not their conduct and competence as public servants will be audited.

Their decision is that they will not.

Their decision will not be overridden except by a large enough group of people who are willing to show up at board meetings to demonstrate their outrage.

A Local Blogger Has Suggested a Debate Between Monica Armenta and Myself

You can read about on the 'Burgue Babble.

The idea is not a new one, although I would rather not call it a debate.

I would rather call it; communication.

Accountability Audit in a Single Question

The first question in an accountability audit of the leadership of the APS is, is there honest and real accountability to any meaningful standard of conduct?

If the answer to that question is no; it means that it serves no purpose to identify problems, because they will not be remedied. There is no point in asking any other question.

That question can be answered relatively cheaply.

After about one day of investigation.

The only problem then would be getting
the leadership of the APS to release the result.

Two Steps Forward; One Step Back

On the agenda; the scope of the administrative audit (and other less important considerations).

Will the audit, audit the conduct and competence of public servants within their public service?

Marty Esquivel asks; how can you audit a department and not coincidently audit the person who runs the department?

Paula Maes says she will not allow Tom Savage, for example, to have his conduct and competence as a public servant be objectively and impartially measured and reported to the public.

She will not allow the senior administrator most responsible for the public corruption and criminal conspiracy in the leadership of the APS Police Department to be audited. She will not allow any corrupt or incompetent administrator to be audited. No record will be created that will allow any senior administrator or board member to be held accountable for their conduct or competence as a public servant.

No vote was taken on the scope; a step backwards. A clear win for APS/Modrall. Paula Maes and her husband's law firm have escaped the scope of an audit.

Two steps forward; Marty Esquivel will chair a subcommittee that will gather public input on the scope of the audit (and other less important considerations). He needs public support to take on Paula Maes, Modrall, et al. If there are public meetings on the scope of the audit, there is a greater likelihood of wide spread public awareness. The Journal and the Trib would at some point have no other choice except to tell their readers the truth about the controversy over the audit.

A step back; Robert Lucero, administrative apologist and representative of the corrupt and incompetent in the leadership of the APS, has insinuated himself into the position of co-chair of that committee. It will be no different than if Paula Maes was co-chair.

Robert Lucero who has never turned his back on the opportunity to say something public; will say nothing on the record about the scope of the audit.

Just as he will say nothing about his personal responsibility for killing a motion before the board that would have required administrators and board members to tell the truth, as an enforceable matter of policy.

Just as he will say nothing about his vote to remove the following from his own standard of conduct as a public servant, as the steward of a billion tax dollars a year, and as a senior role model for students;

In no case shall the standard of conduct for an adult be lower than the standard of conduct for students.

He and four other sitting board members voted to remove that phrase from their code of conduct. Now, students are accountable to a higher standard of conduct than the most senior role models in the district.

Now he and the leadership of the APS can not be held accountable to any meaningful standard of conduct, except under a system which they control, and never against their will.

Now there will be no principled resolution of allegations of ethical and criminal misconduct, including felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators and board members.

APS "Police" Department To See Little Change

According to the Journal (sub req); "The Albuquerque school board is considering keeping its police force status quo despite numerous recommendations for change"; endorsing "...a plan Thursday to continue the current police arrangement— an unaccredited security force— overriding two recommendations by its administration and a community commission that spent the summer studying the issue."

"I feel, quite frankly, we wasted a whole lot of time," said Paul Broome, education adviser for Mayor Martin Chávez and a member of the commission..."

Welcome Paul, to the world of teachers; invest a lot of time and energy in devising a strategy to improve things; only to have the administration do what they want to anyway.

Board President Paula Maes said,
"We had a police department that works."; a Praetorian Guard that reports to the leadership of the APS, and doctors statistics to deliberately mislead stakeholders. Her sentiments were echoed by Berna Facio and Delores Griego. Griego made it clear that she would vote against nasty guns in schools no matter what the feelings of those she "represents" on the board.

Berna Facio expressed her belief that she, and the board, had been deliberately mislead about the number of incidents involving weapons confiscated from students and others on school campuses.

This impression is consistent with the observation of the Council of Great City Schools which reported that crime statistics were routinely manipulated to make individual schools and the District look better.

Her realization came into being after a veteran APS Police officer described the confiscated weapons in the APS Police vault; thousands of knives, pistols, and shotguns.

What struck me as I listened to the discussion; was the lack of preparation by board members for the discussion. Gordon Rowe confessed on at least two occasions that he had little idea what was going on because he had chosen not to participate in the discussions of the Community Safety Commission. It was clear that other board members interest in the issue was limited only to the issue of arming police officers 24/7.

In contrast, Marty Esquivel was clearly prepared; asking a number of pertinent questions based apparently on notes prepared well in advance of the meeting. Despite the importance of the issue; it was clear that board members would not have the opportunity to discuss the issue to their satisfaction; those with legitimate questions repeatedly begged for time to additional time to ask them.

Robert Lucero spent much of his time deliberately misleading the audience. He repeatedly insisted that, according to APS lawyers, if APS created an accreditable police force; it would be in violation of state law. Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White revealed the truth.

White reported that he asked Art Melendrez point blank; does NM law allow APS to set up its own police force? The answer; no. Does NM law prevent APS from establishing its own police force? The answer; no.

The fact that the law doesn't address the issue, is a far cry from Lucero leading people to believe that establishing a police force would violate state law.

Lucero continues to struggle to keep his mouth shut long enough for other board members to get a word in edgewise. He was reminded by other board members so many times that they were not finished and that he needed to wait his turn, that after a while their reminders to him began to draw snickers from the audience.

Several in attendance complained that the public at large was not adequately represented on the safety commission. I saw no indication that most board members were doing anything except voting their personal bias on the issue; with little or no regard for the feelings and interests of those that they represent.

Middle School Coolers on Fritz

According to an article in the Journal (sub req);

"Principal Cordoba Martinez said the evaporative coolers at Ernie Pyle have always been a problem at the start of the school year."

"It's been an ongoing issue for at least 12 years," she said.

During the same twelve year period no cooling problems have been reported at the Uptown Administrative Complex; the site of millions of dollars in unnecessary renovations.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Vandalism/graffiti cost over a half a million a year

According to an article in the Journal (sub req), It costs taxpayers about $600,000 a year to repair vandalism and to deal with graffiti on APS campuses.

Due in no small part to the failure of the administration to enforce district and school discipline policies; and to deal effectively with the chronically disruptive students who disrupt classes during the day, and vandalize schools at night.

APS Leaders Are Not Rolemodels

In the broadest sense, they are by definition,
role models; my point is narrower.

The leaders of the APS have never been accountable as role models. They have only allowed allowed people to believe that they were.

There is no evidence that any senior administrator or board member has ever been held accountable for failing to provide a good and positive role model for students.

If there were; it would be manifest.

There is ample evidence to the contrary;

and it is clearly manifest.

Board Votes for Secret Search

According to the Journal, the names of candidates for the superintendency will be kept secret from stakeholders.

Board Member Marty Esquivel, an expert in open government law says; the secrecy may violate state law.

Board President Paula Maes says; she'll ignore the law until the lawyers of Modrall can no longer except her from its requirements.

As her excuse she offered; other people are doing it.

That was the same excuse she used when she moved the public forum off the public record;

...other people are doing it.

Secrecy in this process serves no legitimate purpose.

It serves only the interests of candidates who would deliberately mislead the stakeholders in their current situation.

Do we really need another superintendent who is willing to deliberately mislead stakeholders in order to advance their own interests?

Torches and Pitchforks

Tonight, the leadership of the APS will vote to except from accountability; themselves, and the record of their conduct and competence as public servants.

They will vote to limit the scope of an administrative audit; in order to exclude administrators.

That audit has already been done. The Council of the Great City Schools audited the leadership of the APS and found no accountability to any meaningful standard of conduct or competence.

Their latest audit found that the leadership of the APS ignored the findings of previous audits. The system is unchanged. No steps have been taken to provide honest accountability to any meaningful standard of conduct.

If even one concrete step toward accountability has been taken; Monica Armenta could communicate it to you. She can't; none exists.

The leadership of the APS is damned by their record. Their only hope for survival is to except themselves and their records from examination during the upcoming audit.

It is time to clean the nest.

Whomever the new Superintendent is; s/he can be given an efficient and effective administration free of corruption and incompetence. It is as simple as an honest audit; and after the audit, transparent accountability to some meaningful standard of conduct, under a system over which they have no control; and even against their will.

There is every legitimate reason to conduct a full scale audit. There is not one single legitimate reason not to audit the conduct and competence of public servants.

The only reason to hide the corruption and incompetence; is to protect the corrupt and the incompetent.

They fancy themselves powerful enough to vote in a public meeting, to accept themselves from accountability.

The meeting will be sparsely attended; it is held in a place and at a time that is as convenient for the leadership of the APS; as it is inconvenient for working stakeholders.

The leadership of the APS is counting upon secrecy and apathy to minimize opposition this afternoon.

Despite an excellent editorial in the Journal blasting the unethical conduct surrounding the ACE; neither paper, nor any broadcast media outlet; has chosen to inform stakeholders that the vote that will be taken this afternoon,

... is likely the most important and far reaching decision that has ever been made in the APS.

If ever there was a fork in the road; this is it.

There comes a time when the great unwashed have no choice except to get together, armed with nothing but torches and pitchforks and do what needs to be done.

5pm, Uptown Centre, ...everyone.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Buried deep in the agenda for tonight's board meeting

is the draft plan for the superintendent search; quoted here in significant part;

  • "Conditions of serving on the search committee is signing a confidentiality form,..."
  • "Names of all applicants remain confidential until interviews with top (three) candidates";
( in apparent violation of the law; the NMIPRA.)

Even the Journal editors have taken a stand against secrecy in the process.

"We aren't trying to do anything on the sly,"

APS' Brad Winter said. "We thought we had community input. I apologize if that didn't happen."

"Many Chaparral Elementary School parents had never heard of School On Wheels until they found out Tuesday that a satellite location of the alternative high school was placed on the elementary school campus." according to the Journal article.

The issue is not so much whether or not high school drop outs should be placed in close proximity to elementary school students; as it is, the parents of the elementary students should have been part of the decision making process.

"The satellite ended up at St. Pius seven years ago when the district had tried to locate it at Chaparral. APS met with strong opposition from parents then as well." (emphasis added)

How exactly, does one "think" they had community input?

When APS apologized for not involving parents in the Chinese fire drill for principals, wasn't there some commitment made to rededicate themselves to appropriately involving parents in future decisions?

...screw up, apologize; screw up again in exactly the same way, apologize again;

and so on, ad nauseam.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


1. A persistent irritating critic; a nuisance.
2. One that acts as a provocative stimulus; a goad.
3. Any of various flies, especially of the family Tabanidae, that bite or annoy livestock and other animals.

I've been called a gadfly again; and I don't like it.

I feel they same about it as when the lawyers of Modrall refer to their victims as "disgruntled former employees".

There is nothing that I have done or stand for that warrants trivialization.

I am standing up for the principle that public servants are accountable to the public by means of honest and transparent accountability to a meaningful standard of conduct, by a system over which they have no control; and even against their will.

and if that makes me a gadfly; then so be it.

On the table Thursday afternoon:

There is going to be an audit.

The audit will be a full scale (forensic) audit of the leadership of the Albuquerque Public Schools;

or it will not.

Those in the leadership of the APS, the record of whose conduct and competence as public servants cannot stand an honest audit; will seek to except their record from audit. a matter of personal survival.

Clearly, it will take an enormous amount of personal courage to stand up against Maes, Lucero, Modrall, et al; and to insist upon a full scale audit of the administration of the public trust and treasure in the Albuquerque Public Schools.

So far, the only people who have stood up against them have stood alone.

It is time for that to stop.

Someone else observed that;

"you can give without caring;
but you cannot care without giving."

You could show up at the meeting
without caring about what kind of audit is done;

But you cannot care about what kind of audit is done,
and not show up at the meeting.

There; to stand up for what you believe in,
for two minutes.

According to the agenda;
5:00pm, DeLay-Martin Community Room
APS Uptown Administrative Complex/Boondoggle
6400 Uptown Blvd.

Really, there is no equivalent gesture.

The Monica Armenta Thing

I figure that Monica Armenta owns the
Inn of the Mountain Gods scandal/fiasco.

In truth I don't know if she owns setting up a conference at the Inn of the Mountain Gods for administrators; paid for in large, by people who stand to gain, by gaining favor with these administrators.

Likely we will never know who owns it.

Just like we really don't know who owns gradegate.

I asked straight out, over two months ago,if board members new about the cover up, and they stonewalled the question.

Beth Everitt was never asked a single question on the record and under oath, even during the NM PED "investigation" of gradegate.

The impartial investigation of the gradegate scandal that was broached by Board Member Marty Esquivel, has been stonewalled ever since by Maes/Modrall et al.

Even the NM PED Educator Ethics Bureau is covering it up. What ever happened to the investigation of the charges made against Elsy Fierro?

The allegation is that; the appearance of a conflict of interest was created and then covered up; in violation of board policy and any meaningful standard of conduct.

Armenta, or whomever, could have said; the allegation is not true.

Or she could have said; you know you're right, I screwed up. I screwed up and am willing to be held accountable to a meaningful standard of conduct; under a system over which I have no control; and even against my will.

Which she didn't.

Nor did the new APS Director of Communications post any information at all about the meeting on the APS Website; the whole meeting in Ruidoso was kept semi-secret from stakeholders.

Instead of admitting or denying the allegation, Armenta's response was; Administrators got what they deserved.

("At some point, the public's got to decide whether principals and administrators are really valued as much (as other professions)," she said. "Our pool is getting smaller and smaller, and these people are some of the most educated in the community ... It's a double message constantly.")
That statement, depending on your perspective is either true or false. In neither case does it represent a response to the allegation that she (or, whomever) created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

There is only one reason not to tell the truth.

Armenta floats another red herring

According to the Journal, Monica Armenta is questioning the fact that people (like me) are questioning the administrative soiree at the Inn of the Mountain Gods.

"At some point, the public's got to decide whether principals and administrators are really valued as much (as other professions)," she said. "Our pool is getting smaller and smaller, and these people are some of the most educated in the community ... It's a double message constantly."

Her objection is of course, another red herring.

If anyone in the community is undervalued, it is teachers, not administrators.

Armenta will say anything she can to shift the focus from the fact that administrators are not accountable for their conduct or their competence; which is the real problem the community has with administrators.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Most Important Vote in the History of the APS School Board

On Thursday afternoon at 5pm, the policy committee will discuss and take action on the following agenda item;

Consideration of Administrative Audit / Peer Review.

The choice that will be made will determine the scope of the upcoming audit.

There are essentially two choices; one will keep the audit focused on the "system" only; the other will examine the both the system and the administrators that spend a billion tax dollars a year and guide the effort to educate 90,000 of this communities sons and daughters.

There is only one legitimate reason to select the former over the later; it will be marginally less expensive. The greater expense of a full scale audit is statistically inconsequential compared to a billion dollar budget; it is statistically inconsequential compared to the money that will be saved by identifying corrupt and incompetent administrators.

The real reason to limit the scope of the audit is to protect the personal interests of administrators and board members whose record is one of incompetence and/or corruption; a philosophically indefensible position.

Maes, Lucero, et al, have two choices; bury the real issue under red herring issues, and/or prevent the discussion of the issue entirely. They have prevented this issue from coming to the table for over a decade. This is the first time since the Board unanimously adopted Character Counts as their standard of conduct, that their lack of honest accountability to any standard of conduct at all has been slated for discussion.

Anyone who really cares about honest accountability in the administration of the public schools needs to attend the meeting, to look into Robert Lucero's weasely little face as he tries to prevent a discussion of an audit that will expose corruption and incompetence; the corrupt and the incompetent in the leadership of the APS.

If no one shows, he wins by default.