Thursday, May 31, 2012

Skandera will get back to us

New Mexico Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera will get back with us on whether there will be any investigation of allegations that APS misrepresented attendance data for APS' make up day.

Taxpayers ponied up between $3M and $7M, depending on how you do the math, to open schools Tuesday. One would assume that in order for the NM PED to "count" it as a make up day, there must be students involved. And further, if there are not enough students involved, the day doesn't count.

Update; And one would have assumed wrongly. From the PED in response to my question whether there is an attendance threshold percentage;
Unfortunately there isn't. Statute and Rule are silent regarding number or percentage of students.
APS is claiming 89% attendance, link, utter nonsense on its face. There is reason to believe APS didn't record attendance at all, much less record attendance.

APS' Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta and Supt Winston Brooks own the bogus 89% attendance claim.

Who will make them back it up with data? Not their cronies in the media. Their investigative reporters stay well clear of the corruption in the leadership of the APS.

One turns then, to the government. The problem is reported to "government" and "government" will take care of business.

If ever I try to get public servants to hold other public servants accountable for their incompetence or corruption, I don't do it because actually expect that they will, but rather to illustrate the fecklessness of that approach, and near certainty that nothing will be done.

With that in mind, I have involved the NM PED in an investigation of Brooks and Armenta's lack of candor, forthrightness and honesty in reporting students attendance on Tuesday.

The email exchange with Strategic Initiatives and Constituent Services Division Director Julia Rosa Emslie NM PED, here quoted in significant part;
It would appear that the Albuquerque Public Schools is over reporting student attendance at their end of year make up day.

Does the NM PED plan to investigate and report upon the finding?
Hi Mr. MacQuigg
Can you please give the names of the schools and any personnel involved?
The story was covered by KRQE
I, of course, have no idea what attendance was at individual schools. It should be easy enough to corroborate allegations that grade books were closed before the day began, and teachers had no way to record attendance because the district's attendance computer was closed.
Thanks for the information. I will forward it to our auditors.
How long a process is that normally?
It's not a guarantee that the NMPED will decide to investigate. If the auditors do decide to move forward, then it depends on the scope of work, amount of data to be reviewed, etc...

I will get back to you on next steps.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Skandera not too busy to investigate APS' arch rival

Is she too busy to investigate the make-up day attendance sham APS perpetrated yesterday?

Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera has indicated that she will investigate APS Supt Winston Brooks' complaint that his arch-rival Scot Glasrud did something wrong when he allowed a student to complete an online course in his own time frame.

Will she have time to investigate credible testimony and evidence that Brooks had attendance over-reported yesterday?  I have emailed her and asked.

Is APS really going to get credit for a school day sans schooling?

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Armenta blames teachers for wasted day!

KRQE reports, link, APS' Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta said teachers are responsible, if on the last day of school, students learn nothing.

"They have an instructional day as always," says APS spokesperson Monica Armenta. "It's up to the teachers as it is everyday in Albuquerque Public Schools to determine what they want to do with their kids that day in terms of learning, but it's meant to be an instructional day."

The thump-thumps you're hearing,
are teachers being thrown under the
wheels of half-empty school buses
leaving school parking lots.

When the School Board made a decision on teachers serving in the Legislature and ignored a negotiated agreement that would have made teachers a part of that process, the teachers union President Ellen Bernstein told them she felt personally betrayed.

Now they all should.

photo Mark Bralley

Armenta lets loose a whopper!

APS spokespeople are no longer identified in news reports.

It was an APS "spokesperson" KRQE reports, link,  who
claimed 89% of students attended school today.

Last year, link, It was APS' Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta who claimed 81% attendance on the last day of school.

Neither claim is what might be called candid, forthright and honest; nor or even close.

When KRQE asked to take their cameras in and see for themselves, APS Crisis Manager Monica Armenta, or someone acting in her stead, told them no.

KRQE is conducting a viewer poll.
It indicates by a margin of nearly
4 to 1, a communications failure of
massive proportion.

More to follow.

photo Mark Bralley

The 2nd stupidest make-up day ever?

Under eerily nearly identical circumstances last year, the Journal was reporting on, link, student non-attendance of a make up day scheduled for the day after the Memorial Day weekend. Just like today.

Last year at this time, APS' Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta was trying to get people to believe that student attendance was 81%, link.

The controverting facts and evidence were overwhelming.

Some were calling it the stupidest make up day ever.

The leadership of the APS would have those who know about these wasted days, link, believe that there is nothing that can be done on the last day of school that will contribute positively to the education students.

Instead, the few students who do show up today will wander the halls bored and aimless, wandering from classroom to classroom looking for a teacher showing a G rated movie they have seen a million times before. Or perhaps , if there are teachers they like, they're giving them a hand in shutting down their classrooms.

It will cost taxpayers approximately $6.5M to open APS schools for students today.

Worse than the fact that they are wasting $6.5M today, is their relentless unwillingness to be candid, forthright and honest with those whose money is being wasted.

Education stopped more than two weeks ago for seniors, many of whom will be struggling next fall just to keep up in the freshman English and Math classes for which they will be under prepared.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, May 28, 2012

The only fitting memorial, really.

There will be a great to do today in honor of those who have sacrificed so much on our behalf; as well there should be.

When it comes to honoring those men and women and their sacrifices, the speeches we will hear, the ceremonies we will witness, pale in comparison the real measure of our gratitude; holding the ground they took.

Ground worth taking is ground worth holding, and ground is held by defending it, not by memorializing those who took it; no matter how moving the ceremony.

"The ground" is this case is protection of the free exercise of human rights, The best defense of that ground, and the greatest homage we can pay to those to took it, is to exercise those rights freely and frequently, lest we forget how and why we might want to.

What is the point of people dying to defend the rights to freely assemble, speak and petition one's government, if those whose rights they are, don't care enough about them to exercise them?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Typically, when it rains, it pours."

With that, DA Kari Brandenburg explains why, of late, so many of her subordinates are getting in trouble and in the news. According to the same Journal report, link, Brandenburg also offered;

 “I guess you could say I’m a horrible DA and everything is falling apart, ..."
Yes, I guess we (voters) could.

Brandenburg is seeking her fourth term as DA.  If in her previous three terms, she was not able to set a tone in her Office; a tone where those who enforce the law feel personally compelled to scrupulously obey the law, what is the likelihood she can set that tone in the fourth?


Time for a new DA.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, May 21, 2012

Editors pile on charter school in half-baked editorial

Southwest Learning Center
is a successful charter school.

By any reasonable measure,
it is very successful charter

It would appear that the SLC
and its Director Scot Glasrud
are doing a superlative job.

Because of their comparative
success, the SLC and Glasrud
represent a threat to those
whose existence is threatened
by the number of students who
are abandoning APS in favor of
charter schools.

They represent quite a threat to
APS Supt Winston Brooks.

More than 10,000 students have
left the APS to attend charters

The hemorrhaging is a consequence
of APS failure to meet those students
at their need. It is a manifestation
of an administrative failure.

The success of the SLC grates
in particular on School Board
Member and enforcer Marty

There is a long history of the
bad blood between Winston
Brooks, Marty Esquivel, and
the SLC and its Director Scot
Glasrud, link and link.

The Journal's manifest alliance with Brooks and Esquivel is a matter of record. Esquivel and Brooks use the Journal at will in their effort to retaliate against Glasrud and the SLC, link.

On this occasion, Brooks and Esquivel are using the Journal to create a controversy where none exists; a controversy over the number of hours it took a student to order to earn a half credit. The controversy is contrived.

If there were genuine controversy, it would be over whether the course lacked the requisite content and rigor. In the absence of any evidence at all to the contrary, it is reasonable to assume the online course has the required content and rigor. How long it took any one student to complete it is inconsequential.

Any time a number students complete a self paced activity and their completion times are compared, one finds;; most will have taken around the same time to complete the task, some will have taken forever, and some will have finished in remarkably short times; which doesn't mean those students cheated.

Why can't Brooks, Esquivel or the Journal cite any lack of rigor? Have they even looked at the course content and accountability? It would appear that they have not. If they did, clearly they found no lack of rigor cite, or they would have, and consequently, no grounds for their accusations against SLC.

Finishing in a short time, though the center of this tempest, has nothing to do with content and rigor. These online courses are "approved" courses. The time to question their "approval" was before they approved them, not after, and not just because, some kid completed their course in a time they cannot comprehend.

I find it disturbing that Journal editors point to;

"... plenty of questions surrounding the Albuquerque High School student who paid $200 to a charter school so he could retake senior English over a weekend and graduate on time"
and yet no one of them will assign a reporter to investigate and report on the questions and APS responses.

They go right ahead and insinuate that Glasrud and the SLC offer
"... escape routes where students can skirt the rigors demanded of them by their (APS) teachers.

Why are no Journal reporters ever assigned to investigate and report on anything that leads back to Esquivel or Brooks?

I would suggest it is for the same reason no reporters from KRQE, KOAT, or KOB are ever assigned to investigate and report upon anything that leads back to School Board President Paula Maes, the President and CEO of the New Mexico Broadcasters Association.

photos Mark Bralley

Friday, May 18, 2012

Is Walz covering for Brooks?

In the Journal, link, a report on a lawsuit filed by demoted women against "APS".

Nowhere in the entire article, is it mentioned that APS Supt Winston Brooks is a named respondent in that lawsuit.

It makes a difference, and Kent Walz' Journal didn't report it. It makes a difference in particular, since Brooks was given space in the "report" to defend the actions he took that prompted the lawsuit.

Brooks is the subject of a number of complaints of misogyny, bullying, and anger management issues. Perhaps, not one of those complaints is substantiated by credible evidence or testimony. Perhaps, some of them are; perhaps most are.

That the truth about complaints is being hidden from interest holders, speaks to a need to hide the truth from them.

The people have an interest here; it is their power and resources that are being spent. It is their power and resources that were consigned to APS to educate 90,000 of this community's sons and daughters, and which are being used instead, to separate Winston Brooks from the consequences of his misconduct.

There is no mechanism by which the people can hold Winston Brooks accountable. Though a public servant, he does not work for the people. He works for the School Board.

Our only opportunity to hold him accountable, is to hold the school board accountable; individually and collectively. The only way we can hold the school board accountable, is if we are told the truth.

And the Journal isn't telling the truth.

Neither are any of the affiliates of School Board President Paula Maes' New Mexico Broadcasters Association.

Coincidentally, Maes is herself a named respondent in a lawsuit alleging her personal abuse of the power entrusted to her.

There is an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, and Kent Walz and the establishment media are not telling the truth about it.

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Online credits a scam, Esquivel says

In the Journal this morning,
link, School Board Member
Marty Esquivel fired a salvo
of accusations against a local
charter school, Southwest
Learning Center, and against
online learning in general.

Esquivel thinks a student who
completed classwork over a
long weekend, must be
scamming the system, along
with the charter school that offered the class.

Southwest Secondary head
Scot Glasrud reported that
the student was logged on line
for nearly 57 hours over four

He reported that the student
completed all of the essays
and quizzes required to pass.

It would appear that the loathing Esquivel shares with APS Supt Winston Brooks for charter schools in general, is driving his conviction that a student cannot complete a class in four days.

The math tells a different story.

According to APS' website, link, high school classes are 48 minutes long. Though second semester is actually shorter than the first, let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say students are in class 90 days. 90 times 48 minutes equals 72 hours, only 15 hours more total, than the student spent working over a long weekend.

Anyone who has been in a school, knows students aren't working bell to bell. If ten minutes of every class period is spent starting and ending the class, collecting homework, listening to announcements and everything else that has to be done everyday in every class, the total investment in learning drops to 90 times 38 minutes; or 57 hours, the same investment.

Subtract the three weeks early end of the school year for seniors, and the total in class room investment drops to 75 times 38, or 47.5 hours; or, less time than the online learner invested.

School board enforcer Esquivel offered;

“It sounds like a total scam. It’s the equivalent of me getting a three-year law degree on a 10-day Carnival cruise.”
The student proved only that, if a student makes up their mind to learn, they can learn online as well at they can sitting in five rows of six students attending to a teacher.

Have Esquivel or the Journal even looked at the online class the student completed? Do they have any real objection based on relevance or rigor of the coursework? Esquivel is a lawyer; he should know better than to make reckless accusations without examining the facts.

The only real question is; is the online class the equivalent of an "in school" class? If it is, then it doesn't make any difference if a student completes the class over the course of a semester or over what must have been the worst weekend of his life.

The Journal is remiss in presenting Esquivel's biased and bigoted accusations against one of APS most successful "competitors" for state education dollars, without any real investigation.

photos Mark Bralley

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Brooks and Armenta to take another run at bullying

The leadership of the APS has a problem, the community is upset about the bullying that goes on APS schools, link. Community members are upset enough that they are showing up at school board meetings to complain about bullying, link.

The truth is, the leadership of the APS has a bigger problem than bullying; bullies can be dealt with.

APS Supt Winston Brooks' real problem, and by extension, APS Executive Director of Communications and Crisis Manager Monica Armenta's real problem is, how to placate the community about bullies and bullying, without talking about the administrative failures that enabled the bullying in the first place and continue to enable bullying to take place again and again and again.

Enforcing district and school discipline policies is an administrative responsibility. In particular, when a teacher tells a student to stop misbehaving, and the student's response means no, enforcing discipline policies is an administrative responsibility.

Why do we never talk about student discipline? In all of the endless meetings and task forces and town halls, why do we never talk about student discipline?

Where is the PowerPoint presentation on student discipline in the APS, link?

Where is the candid, forthright and honest presentation of the facts about student discipline and its effects on test scores and graduation rates?

Consider KRQE's report and the districts response. KRQE reports that a student claims the fights are organized and are a part of gang initiations. The student reports, students set up fights to get into gangs; an opportunity to prove themselves in action.

KRQE went to APS on "Thursday afternoon" (presumably during the work day) and was told by "an APS spokesperson ... everyone who could speak about the videos was gone."

The anonymous spokesperson went on to say,

"APS doesn't believe that these videos may be part of a fight club or gang initiation ..."
and we are left with a question; who is more likely to know the truth about what's going on, on the ground in APS high schools, a student at one of the schools where fights are being staged, or the unnamed APS spokesperson?

KRQE reports;
"One of the fights was actually stopped by what officials believe is a teacher, but APS says there's no record of the kids being disciplined for fighting at Rio Grande around that time that brawl took place."
And there you have it, the rubber meets the road; no record of kids being disciplined. They got away with it.

Nobody ever asks teachers about student discipline and its effect on their ability to educate classrooms full of kids. Nobody ever asks them whether their administration is taking care of business and bullies. No data is gathered on the administration of district and school discipline policies. Either that, or the data has been gathered, and it is being hidden.

The leadership of the APS is planning two public meetings on bullying. They will do everything they can to contain the conversation and to prevent the open and honest public discussion of the underlying administrative failure to maintain order in schools.

Students are in charge at school. It is their will being done.

Who is really in charge in schools where the adults say there
will be no fighting at school, or the students who go ahead
and fight anyway?

Kids are in charge at school and the last thing the Executive Director of Communication and Crisis Management is going to do is to prepare a candid, forthright and honest PowerPoint presentation of the evidence supporting that conclusion.

There will be no PowerPoint on student discipline. Ever.

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Brandenburg sets the tone; way too low

District Attorney Kari Brandenburg is responsible for setting the tone in the District Attorney's Office.

Recent stories in the Journal, link, and on KRQE, link, paint a number of her subordinates as scofflaws. Most disturbing in Barker's report, the interviews with the handicap parking violators and their utter disregard for the laws they enforce.

It would be unreasonable of course, to hold Brandenburg accountable for the individual misconduct of  every one of her subordinates.  But when the number of subordinates making bad choices gets large enough, it is fair to wonder about the influence, or lack of it, that Brandenburg exerts on those for whom she is the senior role model.

Brandenburg announced that she had "launched an investigation" Thursday morning.  The results of the investigation have not been released, indicating the investigation is still underway (how long does it take to investigate the crimes Barker documented?), or more likely, the facts are known and are being hidden for as long as the law and the media will allow.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Geraldine Amato beat down

In the Journal, link, we find that the APS Board Members,
City Councilors and County Commissioners soon won't have
Geraldine Amato to kick around any more.

Amato was a fixture at public forums at public meetings of the school board, city council and county commissions. She availed herself of her Constitutionally protected human right to petition her government to the extent that rules were drafted to limit her impact.

I have listened to Amato on a number of occasions. I found her difficult to understand. Part of that has to do with the inherent difficulty anyone would have in expressing complex positions in two minutes allowed at the podium. Part of it has to do with Ms Amato's affect which many find off putting.

The trouble with enabling citizens to freely exercise their Constitutionally protected human rights, is that you enable people to do everything they want, up to the point where they have broken the law. There is no clear line between comfortable exercises and uncomfortable exercises. The only clear line is the law. I never saw Amato break the law. I never saw anything anywhere close.

I never saw her do anything that justified the disrespect she was dealt at the hands of politicians and public servants.

Amato owns whatever part of her
image she creates at the podium.

The rest of her image, some of the
worst parts, were created or
exacerbated by the politicians and
public servants she annoyed.

Government is not permitted to be
"annoyed" by any citizen's lawful petition.

Government is not permitted to act on that annoyance by limiting the free exercise of Constitutionally protected human rights. There is no pay back permitted.

Photojournalist Mark Bralley snapped this shot of "County employees Paul Evans and Sherri Olsen, who work in the Public Information Office, and Deputy County Manager John Dantis, right; expressing disdain for Amato on election night in the County Commission/City Council chambers, when they passed around a bottle of water she had left from the City Council meeting the night before".

In Bralley's experience, he wrote, link, "It seems the greatest contempt for those who make public comments comes from public employees and elected officials".

Mohandas Gandhi drew conclusions on the consequences of speaking truth to power;

First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you
then you win.
Watch school board members, city councilors and county commissioners during public forum. Are legitimate petitions being given due process, a good faith response of any kind? Or are board members, councilors and commissions buried in their laptops?

Amato has taken more than her fair share of abuse, as much for standing up to speak truth to power as for the manner in which she went about it. She has been ignored, she has been laughed at, but she didn't make it to the fight. There still is no place in government, where government will sit still and respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly, to questions and complaints about the public interests and about their public service.

Upon her leaving, Amato "... wishes she received more respect in the chambers ...
“Instead of being treated as a respected elder,” Amato said, “I’m treated at those meetings with contempt and disrespect. I’m badgered, annoyed, harassed for what I say.

As I get older, the aggravation is harder to endure.”
The clear loser here; honest accountability for politicians and public servants, to the citizens they serve.

photos Mark Bralley

Brooks is a named respondent in sex discrimination lawsuit

APS Supt Winston Brooks has a reputation as a bit of a misogynist and bully. The establishment media ignores it so unless you know someone, you will not have heard.

Nor will you have heard about the lawsuits that have been filed against him, or the (otherwise classroom bound) operational dollars that have been spent on lawyers and settlements with complainants.

A(nother) lawsuit has been filed in United States District Court, 1:12-cv-00057-ACT-LFG, by three female administrators who allege that Brooks played favorites in administrative reshuffling; demoting a disproportionate number of females and promoting a correspondingly disproportionate number of males.

The evidence they cite looks pretty conclusive.

The fact that neither APS nor the media is saying anything about it, or about any of the other in the myriad of complaints against APS administrators and board members, amounts to smoke, and where there's smoke, there's fire.

If asked, APS will tell you that Brooks is named personally in lawsuits just because that's the way it's done, not because he deserves it. Truth be told, he is justifiably individually named. That the truth is damning, explains its absence from APS' award winning website.

... and from the pages of Kent Walz' Journal.

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, May 12, 2012

APS board to revisit hundreds of decisions

The recent events in Sunland Park, link, proved that NM open meetings law has some teeth.

Decisions were made while people who wanted to participate in the meetings were not allowed in the room. The city council was compelled to revisit the decision.

I have not been allowed in the room since September 1st, 2010. It will be shown that "open government lawyer" and school board enforcer Marty Esquivel's "banning letter" link, is unlawful.

At that point, every decision they made, while I was kept at bay by their praetorian guard, will have to be redone.

... right?

photo Mark Bralley

APS finds four goals, Armenta gets a new job

The APS School Board has reduced their celebration of eight goals, to four, link.

Goal One: Academic Achievement
APS will implement an academic plan aimed at improving achievement for all students with an intensified focus on closing the achievement gap.
Goal Two: Financial Stewardship
APS will maintain a transparent, sound, and responsible financial plan that focuses resources to the classroom and advances student achievement, supports family/community involvement, and promotes school safety.
Goal Three: Family and Community Involvement
APS will meaningfully engage families and enhance partnerships with the community to maximize student achievement.
Goal Four: School Environment
APS will provide a safe and supportive climate for learning and working that maximizes student achievement.
According to the district's website, link, Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta will be the "champion" for Goal 3, link.

Her co-champion, Assistant Superintendent for School and Community Support Diego Gallegos is retiring this month, link.

The Journal reports, link,
Armenta is one of the leaders developing plans to achieve one of the district’s major goals: improving family and community engagement in APS.
Noteworthy; the word "communication" has been scrubbed from APS lexicon. It is apparently too difficult for them to keep saying they want to improve "communication" while simultaneously refusing to engage in any form of open and honest two-way communication with the community members they serve.

Effectively, her new title will be APS Executive Director of Community Involvement (without ever pointing to a time, a day and a place, where the leadership of the APS will respond to legitimate questions about the public interests and their public service, candidly, forthrightly and honestly).

She will continue to be paid more than three times what
a new teacher makes.

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Korte should have just asked the Student Service Center

If you suggest that there are
legitimate questions that the
leadership of the APS will not
answer, School Board Member
Kathy Korte will object, loud
and long.

Yet in this morning's Journal, link, reflecting on a plan to streamline fundraising and in a moment of remarkable candor, a diametrically opposite account; even as a school board member parent, she cannot find the legitimate information she seeks;

“As a mother out there, there are all the different fundraisers that we parents are asked to participate in,” board member Kathy Korte said. “And to be perfectly honest with you and perfectly blunt with you, a lot of us don’t even know what that money is being used for, or where it’s going, or why you’re asking us for more ...”
Make up your mind Ms. Korte. Either there is room for improvement in two-way communication between APS and the community members it serves and a Citizens Advisory Council on Communication, or there isn't.

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Board votes in bad faith

The APS Board of Education took a vote Wednesday night, addressing the issue of APS employees serving in the legislature. In dealing with the one issue, the board created another, they violated an agreement with the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.

The violation had to do with an understanding about how employment issues will be negotiated.  The leadership of the APS entered a solemn agreement with the union to submit issues to "interest based bargaining"; issues would be brought to the table for two-way discussion with interest holders before a final decision was made.

Yet the board did make a final decision, without first engaging in discussion with the union; reneging on their commitment.

Union President Ellen Bernstein showed up at the public forum to urge the Board to respect their solemn agreement, link, (click on the May 2nd video, @ 1:53:40).

She used words like "betrayed", "disrespected", "bad faith, and "dismayed".

She did not use the word "surprised".

The issue is not whether APS employees should be allowed to serve in the legislature, it is about the board being unbound by any standards, even their own solemn commitments.

The Journal was at that meeting, heard Bernstein and her union's outrage over the monumental betrayal of trust, and did not find it newsworthy.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Maes and Korte, just plain wrong

There are two reasons one might be "wrong" about something; ignorance or deceit.

APS School Board President Paula Maes and member Kathy Korte were just plain wrong when they told the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication, that APS answers legitimate questions about the public interests and their public service.

They averred, in a District and Community Relations meeting, that any citizen with a legitimate question, can have that question answered by APS' Student, School and Community Service Center, link. They were wrong.

They were wrong out of ignorance; they really believed what they were saying even though manifestly untrue, or, they were wrong deliberately; part of an effort to deliberately mislead stakeholders.

Their bluff was called, link. Legitimate questions were asked of Toby Herrera, who runs the Service Center.

In January 2005, the school board voted to remove the role modeling clause from their own code of conduct.

In no case shall the district standard for employees be less that that prescribed for the students as published annually in the district Student Behavior Handbook

1) I would like to know why Paula Maes voted to strike the accountability of adults as role models of the student standards of conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!?

During a policy and instruction committee meeting on Aug 16, 2007, Paula Maes announced that she would never agree to any audit that individually identified corrupt and incompetent administrators.

2) I would like to know what Maes meant, and if she still feels the same way about protecting the identities of public servants who have betrayed the people's trust.
To which Herrera responded;
I am sorry, but I cannot help you in getting an answer to the questions posed below. Our office, the Student Service Center, does not work on the Code of Conduct, HR or Personnel issues. Additionally, the questions presented by you are questions I would not have the ability to answer. Only Ms. Maes, if she chose to, could answer why she voted as she did on any issue, what she meant by any statement she has made, or how she felt or still feels on any issue.
Right, like Paula Maes will ever "choose" to explain why she and they abdicated from their obligations as the senior most role models of APS' student standards of conduct.

Another question was asked;
In February 2007, it was revealed that there was a scandal in the APS Police force leadership. The scandal was investigated by at least three entities, personnel, the APS police themselves, and at least one private investigator.

Why won't the leadership of the APS release the ethically redacted versions of all investigations related to the scandal?

Please note; my question is "why?" not "how?". I have been informed already that APS' lawyers believe that the law allows them to keep the findings from public knowledge; my question is why would they want or need to.
To which Herrera responded;
Our office, the Student Service Center, does not work on Personnel issues. I recommend that your contact the Custodial of Public Records, Rigo Chavez, or the APS Chief Operations Officer, Brad Winter, with this concern. I will be forwarding a copy of this message to both of them for their consideration.
Neither Winter nor Chavez of course, has responded.

No matter what Korte and Maes
have to say to the contrary,
the leadership of the APS does
not respond candidly, forthrightly
and honestly to "inconvenient"
questions about public interests,
or about their public service.

Never have; never will.

photos Mark Bralley

“Seventy-one percent of (APS) high schools increased their graduation rates.”

This according to APS Supt Winston Brooks, link.

The increase is on the order of 1 or 2%; as insignificant as it is minute.

Real education reform, whatever it is, whenever we see it, will result in substantial increases in the measures of success, whether they be graduation rates or test scores.

According to Albert Einstein; it is insane to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. If we work backwards from his premise, small changes in outcome are evidence of correspondingly small changes in "the way things are done".

APS has been doing things the same way for nearly a hundred years. They are deeply, and apparently permanently invested in the model called cemetery seating; five rows of six students functioning in a "thought choir"; learning exactly the same things at exactly the same speed, for twelve years, and taking tests every year to prove they are all still together (except that the tests prove the contrary; every year, more and more students fall behind. If that model ever worked, clearly it no longer does.

There is only so much improvement, 1 or 2%, that can whipped out of a dead horse, no matter how resolutely the whip is swung.

Substantial improvement will never follow insubstantial change. To suppose that it will, is insane.

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Enforcer Esquivel on APS' transparency

In response to petitioners looking for two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve, school board enforcer Marty Esquivel chose to talk about transparency and other things instead.

I'm sorry, I came in late on this, but there was an allegation that we lack transparency. I just wanted to state, over the last five years that I've been on this board, when we hired Mr. Brooks we had a completely open search for superintendent. Prior to that -- that's pretty unusual, to look for a chief executive officer in a completely open search.

We also moved to open our audit committee meetings three years ago. Prior to that time they were completely closed. We moved to open those as a policy.

On top of that, there was just a state law passed last year that required audit committees to have people from the outside participate. We were doing that before it was a state law.

Winston Brooks also received the same Bill Dixon award that you did, Ms.(Arnold-) Jones ... the same Bill Dixon award that you did from the Foundation for Open Government which you know does not come easy. So I don't know if you're aware of that fact or not, but clearly that says something, as well.

And our website with regard to information that you can access on our capital outlay, on our budget and everything else, in my opinion, in doing 15 years of work as an open government attorney in this state, is second to none.

So it's one thing to say or allege we lack transparency, but I think the record speaks for itself and I don't want that minimized given my five years of service on this board. Thank you.
How much credit does a politician or public servant deserve for following the law? Open searches aren't new, audit committee meetings must comply with the Open Meetings Act.

Rep Janice Arnold-Jones earned her Dixon Award for a genuinely heroic stand on webcasting the legislature.

Brooks "earned" his award when Esquivel and Journal Editor Kent Walz bamboozled their friends on the NM FOG Board of Directors into giving Brooks an award for "heroically" putting already available public records on line.

The record does speak for itself, and Esquivel's record is of being a thug; writing an unlawful restraining order and using APS' police force to prevent me from asking him from legitimate questions about the public interests and about his public service.

Esquivel does not want to be asked why the findings of investigations into public corruption and incompetence including felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of APS police force is being hidden from public knowledge. He doesn't want to be asked why the findings of a multitude of other investigations and reviews of administrative standards and accountability are not available on APS "award winning" website; not one!

He doesn't want to be asked why the ethically redacted truth about corruption in the leadership of the APS police force is being kept secret by the deliberate choice of the leadership of the APS.

"Open government" crony Kent Walz, can be counted on for his continued aide and abet; no Journal reporter will ever ask
"Why won't the leadership of the APS, produce the ethically redacted findings of the Caswell Report and all of the other investigations of public corruption in the leadership of the APS and its police?
Transparency isn't about the truth that they publish,
it's about the truth that they hide.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Policy Committee slips one by the Journal

Journal Reporter Hailey Heinz wrote a front page, top of the fold and comparatively lengthy story about a decision made at APS' Policy and Instruction Committee meeting last night. Mostly she wrote about the decision by the board, that APS employees will no longer be paid while serving in the legislature.

Heinz' investigation and report were about circumstances whose actual affect is limited to 2 teachers and 50 or so students.

The Journal did not notice, or chose to not report on the board's discussion of a plan to change the way whistleblower complaints against administrators are handled.

APS has a whistleblower program. Its purported purpose, to provide a venue where the powerless can file complaints against the powerful without fear of retribution or retaliation. There is a problem with APS' whistleblower program; investigations and adjudications are handled "in house".

In house investigations create the appearance of a conflict of interest; administrators who have personal, professional and collegial relationships cannot impartially investigate each other.

In the past, the school board addressed the appearance of conflicts of interest, by promising to review and approve of the handling of each and every complaint. It was an important check and balance; the people's only avenue for holding their administrative public servants accountable for their conduct and competence.

The board quietly changed board policy; their Audit Committee is no longer charged with providing review and approval for whistleblower complaints. Last night they fast-tracked a policy change that will put the entire whistleblower program under the direct control of administrators against whom the complaints have been filed; the people with the most to hide.

Tonight, the fast-tracking will be completed when the policy change will be made official during a "regular" school board meeting. With the passage, as many as 400 whistleblowers who had filed complaints before the board reneged on its commitment to due process for their complaints, will be denied that due process forever.

The leadership of the APS cannot be trusted to investigate themselves. Look what happened when they investigated the corruption in their police force, link; they covered the whole thing up. APS senior administrators committed felonies, statutes of limitation on felony criminal misconduct have expired, and the truth about what happened, the Caswell Report and other findings, are still being kept secret; even in violation of the NM IPRA.

The Journal should be all over the cover up. Instead, Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz and school board enforcer Marty Esquivel bamboozled the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government into giving APS Supt Winston Brooks a heroes award for transparency.

In truth, when it comes to investigating and reporting upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, Walz is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't.

He is damned if he doesn't investigate and report upon credible allegations and evidence of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS. He is damned if he does because then he'll have to explain his failure to do so in the six years heretofore.

frame grab Mark Bralley

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Calling Paula Maes' bluff

During the hearing of the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication petition, School Board President Paul Maes told those who had come looking for two-way communication with the leadership of the APS, that what they were asking for is already in place;

  • We have a service center that is manned completely for the community to answer any question, any concern,
  • You can call this service center, ask him any question you want about APS.
  • You said you wanted to have someplace where you could go and ask questions of administrators. We have that. We have a service center who is manned by a top administrator by the name of Toby Herrera. You can go to Toby Herrera with any question you want, anything you want and he'll get an answer for you.
  • We do have a place for you to go. You just don't use it.
  • You're duplicating services and not really looking at what we have. You haven't really looked at what APS has in place.
OK, I have two legitimate questions. I have asked them of Maes and the board on a number of occasions; so many in fact, they are now employing their publicly funded, private police force to prevent me from asking them again.
  1. Why did the Board remove the role modeling clause from their own standards of conduct? and
  2. What did Maes mean when she said, she would never agree to any audit that individually identified corrupt and incompetent administrators or board members?
According to Maes, all I ever had to do to get answers to those questions was to ask Toby Herrera.

Mr. Herrera,

I have a couple of questions. I am fairly certain that it is pointless to ask them of you, but School Board President Paula Maes stated repeatedly during the last District and Community Relations Committee meeting, that this was the proper path.

In January 2005, the school board voted to remove the role modeling clause from their own code of conduct.
In no case shall the district standard for employees be less that that prescribed for the students as published annually in the district Student Behavior Handbook
1) I would like to know why Paula Maes voted to strike the accountability of adults as role models of the student standards of conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!?

During a policy and instruction committee meeting on Aug 16, 2007, Paula Maes announced that she would never agree to any audit that individually identified corrupt and incompetent administrators.

2) I would like to know what Maes meant, and if she still feels the same way about protecting the identities of public servants who have betrayed the people's trust.

I am grateful for your time and attention

ched macquigg

photo Mark Bralley

Another question for APS' service center

While were asking APS Service Center Director Toby Herrera questions; I have another question that has remained unanswered by the board for years.

Mr. Herrera,

Again, pursuant to Paula Maes insistence, I have another question for you.

In February 2007, it was revealed that there was a scandal in the APS Police force leadership.  The scandal was investigated by at least three entities, personnel, the APS police themselves, and at least one private investigator.

My question is;

Why won't the leadership of the APS release the ethically redacted versions of all investigations related to the scandal?
Please note; my question is "why?" not "how?".  I have been informed already that APS' lawyers believe that the law allows them to keep the findings from public knowledge; my question is why would they want or need to.

Again, grateful for your time and attention

ched macquigg