Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The APS split, cherry picking?

There are a number of northwest side residents who want to
see APS split into two districts. Their rationale according the
the Journal, link;

"... splitting from the 87,000-plus student Albuquerque Public Schools would help improve the education of their students, including those at West Mesa with its dismal graduation rates.

... a smaller district with a scaled-back administration ... would be more responsive to needs of the classroom.

... give our kids a better education, bring parents into the process, and increase performance."
All of these arguments are specious.

Whether or not a district administration is responsive to the
needs of the classroom, has nothing to do with district size,
and everything to do with the attitude of the administration
toward the people in the classroom.

If the APS administration is unresponsive to the classroom, that unresponsiveness flows directly from APS Superintendent Winston Brooks' deliberate decision to bring all decision making power back into the district headquarters under his personal control, and the teachers' union failure to stand in his way.

It was he, with a rubber stamp from the school board, who decided to ignore the 70,000+ years of teaching experience in APS classrooms.

There is no guarantee that the superintendent hired to run a new northwest side district will not do exactly the same thing.

The lack of opportunity for stakeholder input has to do with executive and administrative conceit and arrogance, not with district size.

It has to do with government that doesn't give a rat's ass
about input from the governed.

The seat of decision making can be in central office, or it can be in the neighborhood school. The largest district in the country can respect the education, expertise, and experience of its teachers, and the smallest can ignore them.

It is a deliberate choice by a superintendent, not a function of size.

According to the Journal,
"... APS chief Winston Brooks, charge (sic) that the proposed district is "cherry picking" its schools, leaving APS with an even more difficult road than it has now.
... the proposed district (would) leave out many of the poorest neighborhoods, students in the new district would outperform those in the rest of the city.

If approved, the new district would make it "really hard" for Albuquerque Public Schools "to increase graduation rates and proficiency levels when we get left with the poorest kids," Brooks said."
The truth is; test scores correlate tightly with SES (socio-economic status). Experts, given the SES of a school can predict test scores with great accuracy. Tests scores are a surprisingly accurate indicator of SES.

If richer neighborhood schools are removed from the APS, the APS overall performance indicators will show a decline.

So what?

Is the issue increasing students' performance, or looking good?

Brooks argues, it will be hard to increase graduation rates and proficiency levels if left with the poorest kids.

The graduation rates of those particular kids are going to remain the same whether the district splits or not. To imply that splitting the district somehow disadvantages those particular students, is not honest. It's just easier to hide that simple truth, if you can mix in higher performance rates of more affluent students.

NM Public Education Secretary
Veronica Garcia
has been drawn
into the fray.

According to the Journal,
"Garcia met with APS in November to discuss the proposal but said the district has still not provided her information about the effect of a split, student growth projections, transportation and other issues."
If anyone wants to point to an indicator of the real problem, consider the fact that the NM PED Secretary can ask APS for facts and figures, and then not get them.

If the northwest side really wants more input into the education of their offspring, they would do well to elect someone other than Robert Lucero to represent them on the school board; someone with less conceit and arrogance;

someone who might actually respond to their emails.

photos Mark Bralley

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, well thought out, why don't you share this with them at the next public forum!