Monday, August 17, 2009

Winston Brooks wants "public support".

Before we begin;

APS Superintendent Winston Brooks was given some more top of the fold space in the Journal this morning, link. I find it reprehensible; not that a local public school superintendent is given space in the local newspaper of record, but that rebuttal space is not only not encouraged, it is effectively denied.

I believe that, the Albuquerque Journal is part of a "conspiracy" to keep voters in the dark about a very real ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS. This in spite of the fact that we are now only months away from balloting on the issue of whether to trust the leadership of the APS with $650M more tax dollars.

Is conspiracy the right word to use? Well, the leadership of the APS is keeping the lid on the scandal and, the Journal is keeping the lid on the scandal and, I cannot explain that circumstance except by supposing a conspiracy.

I will bow to any reasonable controverting explanation.
In fact, I will report upon it.

That said;

In his column, Brooks argues that the APS is not "failing". He argues that they are not failing because they are making "progress". It is a specious argument. If your horse is running dead last, and it makes up even half the distance to the next to last horse, it is still running dead last.

If the pass fail mark for the APS with respect to the AYP, NCLB, SBA nonsense is 60, and the APS scores 59, the APS has failed. It has failed because it has not reached the mark, and it makes no difference if it reached 59 in coming from 58 or 48.

That said; the mark itself, has almost nothing to do with whether or not the APS is succeeding in maximizing the potential of every one of its stakeholders; students, teachers, parents, and community. The mark is arbitrary and unrealistic. It is demonstrably harmful to a huge number of students.

Brooks also points to a number of individual successes. Again, he should; he should be pointing to successes. The problem is that the apparent motivation in pointing to individual successes is to create a misleading overall picture. It is not ok to feel good about individual successes when the overall picture is one of abject failure.

Depending on how the numbers are manipulated, fully half of children who enter high school, leave high school without a diploma.

Brooks writes;

When you hear our APS graduation rate and test scores mentioned, please keep the total package in mind. That perspective lets us continue to see the glass as half-full.
A half full graduation ceremony is not a glass half full,
it is an abject failure.

Let's do that, let's take a look at the whole package.

  • The leadership of the APS will not allow an impartial and independent audit of the entire leadership of the APS. This despite an incontrovertible need for one.
  • Governor Richardson recently spoke of APS' earned statewide reputation for its lack of financial accountability, and
  • Mayor Marty Chavez recently argued that the lack of accountability in the leadership of the APS, warranted mayoral appointment of school board members, and
  • a recent audit of APS's Financial Department that revealed inadequate standards, inadequate accountability, and inadequate record keeping, and
  • a dozen other independent audits of the APS that revealed standards and accountability issues in every department audited, and
  • an audit report that revealed a failure by the leadership of the APS to respond to previous audit results with any policy changes, and
  • an audit report that revealed routine falsification of statistics in order to protect the reputations of individual schools, and by extension, administrators, and
  • a system of administrative evaluation that is "subjective and unrelated to promotion or step placement", in
  • a "culture of fear of retribution and retaliation".
  • Their own Chief of Police, Gil Lovato, said if the truth ever gets out, there won't be a single APS senior administrator left standing.
  • Paula Maes, when she was School Board President, revealed that she would never agree to any audit that revealed the names of individually incompetent or corrupt administrators or board members.
  • Evidence of felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators is still being kept secret from public knowledge and from the District Attorney two and a half years after the story was reported in the Journal, link, and long after statutes of limitation on felony criminal misconduct have long since expired. This issue is the subject of a complaint under investigation by the Attorney General's Office.
  • Students are held accountable to a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethics. The record of the leadership of the APS is that they have spent millions of tax dollars to litigate their exception from accountability even to the law.
  • There is not a single senior administrator or board member who is willing to hold them self honestly accountable as role model of the APS Student Standards of Conduct.
  • The leadership of the APS has never surveyed teachers to find out what they need to succeed. Never. Not once. There is more than 70,000 years of teaching experience in the APS, and they don't have a seat at the table where decisions are made.
  • APS' whistle blower program, SilentWhistle, is nothing but a forwarding mailbox, and is currently the subject of a complaint being investigated by the State Auditor's Office.
  • ...
Most important of all, Winston Brooks steadfastly refuses to point to a time, a day, and a place where he, or someone in his stead, will simply sit still and answer any legitimate question that anyone wants to ask.

Winston Brooks steadfastly refuses to acknowledge legitimate questions by answering candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

Yes, by all means, let's look at the whole picture and then pretend that the glass is half full because there are some individual successes that are "nothing short of fantastic".

photo Mark Bralley

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