Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bullying victims have no voice in establishment media

The alleged bully and strong arm robber and his lawyers had opportunities to speak to the press.  APS administrators and their lawyers had opportunities.  Where is the opportunity for victims of practicing bullies in the APS, to have their side published?

In fairness, the victim in this particular case was afforded the opportunity to offer the obligatory; it didn't hurt.  But what about other students at the school who have had their property stolen, who have has their faces slapped and worse, and it didn't make the news?  Where do they get to tell their story?

Whether the investigative reporters from the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB interview other students depends in part on whether APS allows them access to students.

But not much. They could always interview students at the curb.

Mostly it depends on whether they care to interview students about bullying at school. Their record is one of ongoing complicity and complacency in the cover up of bullying and other student discipline problems in the APS.

Suppose for the sake of argument that I am wrong; Rio Grande High School is unique in its ability to curtail bullying.  Why wouldn't that be even more newsworthy?  The truth is, it would be, and if that were the case, they would be doing the story in a heartbeat.

Was the APS wrestler a practicing bully?

Let me begin by stating that I have no more information about the specifics in this case than anyone who reads the paper and watches the news.  That said, I taught in APS schools for a quarter of a century.  I watched the bullying and the administrative failure to deal with it.  I will bow to any controverting evidence; but in the absence of that evidence, I am comfortable in my insistence; if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck ...

in all likelihood, what we have here is a practicing bully.

A practicing bully enjoying the administrative permission of his prohibited behavior.  A recent audit of the APS by the Council of the Great City Schools (2007) found administrators;

routinely falsifying crime statistics at their schools, in order to protect their school's public perception.
And, to bring a state championship to their school?  School board members and administrators have a self interest in not reporting, or in under-reporting, incidents of bullying and criminal misconduct in schools.

One hopes there will be an investigation into the circumstances that resulted in a student (allegedly) committing a strong arm robbery at school one day, and then representing his school in a state wrestling tournament the next.

One hopes the investigation will determine whether the young man was just having an extraordinarily bad day or if instead, he was/is a practicing bully.  If there is a record of relentless bullying (criminal misconduct), why is the student on the wrestling team in the first place?

Is it just about state championships, or is it about growing student athletes into adults who embrace character and courage and honor?

If the information that APS shares is candid, forthright and honest, and if the young man is a practicing bully, we will find no record of his relentless criminal misconduct; APS will not have kept a record, link

The leadership of the APS is hiding the truth about bullying in particular and about student discipline problems in general.  The truth is not available, not even on APS' award winning website.

Two possibilities explain the absence of a record;
  1. incompetence - they can't figure out how to do it, or 
  2. corruption - they're not keeping a record in order to hide their inability to enforce district discipline policies.
If ever there were an opportunity for an investigative reporter to dig deeper, if ever their were an obligation for an investigative reporter to dig deeper, and then report the truth about student discipline and bullying in the APS this is it.

Hold the establishment media accountable.
Don't let them sweep this under rug.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ortiz y Pino Bill encourages ignoring petty misdemeanors at school

State Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino has sponsored legislation, SB 528, link, to amend school discipline policy requirements.  It comes before the Senate Education Committee tomorrow morning, link.  The newly revised discipline policy requirements begin on page 4, line 8.

They will make it nearly impossible to hold (chronically) disruptive students accountable for their misconduct.

The onerous revisions include the following language;

Each school district or charter school discipline policy shall ... not require the reporting of petty acts of misconduct and misdemeanors to law enforcement agencies.
Petty misdemeanors that would otherwise involve police and create a record for hooligans who decide to break the law, will not; not as long as they break the law in a classroom or cafeteria, and not at the mall.

And "petty" according to whom, the principal, whose job it is, to protect the public perception of the school, or according the victim?

The record of law breaking at school, disrupting classrooms and the education of other students, is already being hidden and distorted in a deliberate effort to manipulate public perception.  There is a deliberate effort to minimize problems and create a community belief that there are fewer discipline problems than there really are.

Kids by their very nature, test limits.  The more you give them, the more they will take.  Turning a blind eye and deaf ear to petty misdemeanors encourages more serious misdemeanor.  Ask anyone who works in a classroom, or school bus, or cafeteria.

Whatever else this legislation will do, it will enable the leadership of the APS to continue to hide the truth about the effects of chronically disruptive students and the ongoing administrative failure to control their disruption.  This is why the need a publicly funded private police force to enforce the law in schools - so they can enforce their own laws, not ours.

It is a bad bill.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, February 25, 2013

Are we doing everything we can to make it EASY to earn a diploma?

If not, why not?

I am sitting here listening to the Senate Education Committee debate a measure that would allow pregnant and parenting students a few more days of excused absences.

One day, were struggling to kick students out of school because of their non-attendance, and the next day we struggle to get students who dropped out or were kicked out for non-attendance, to come back to schools, under circumstances requiring less rigid attendance.

As I listen to Senators talk about the need to extract a pound of flesh from truant students, I don't hear them talk ask themselves; is what we are considering, going to increase the number of earned diplomas or reduce them.  If you make it any harder than it already is for pregnant or parenting students to earn a diploma, fewer of them will.  The harder you make it for any student, even truants, to earn a diploma, the fewer of them will.

I think it is a fair question to ask, are we doing everything we can to make it as easy as it can be made, for a student to earn a degree as early and as easily as we can?

Does requiring any student to "keep up" with every other student in every subject everyday, make it easier for students to earn a diploma, or does it make it harder?

There is no purpose served by grouping students for no purpose. Well, maybe one, it allows the creation and manipulation of statistics about how well individual students perform in groups.

"Classmates" have nothing in common but the year of their birth and the neighborhood they live in.  There is no point in grouping in any activity that doesn't require groups by their nature.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
By corollary;
You can make students sit in one of five rows of six desks,
but you can't make them learn.
On the other hand
You can lead a thirsty horse to good water
and expect it will drink, and drink, and drink.
And by corollary;
Offer students the opportunity to learn whatever they want, wherever they want, and whenever they want and they will accrue the skill sets and education they need to qualify for a diploma.  Or they won't earn one.
Any student who does earn an diploma given every advantage, would not have earned a diploma anyway, even if then had been compelled to sit in a desk for twelve years.

There is no such thing as a disengaged learner.
Education is not about teaching, it is about learning.
Engage the learner, the rest follows by natural accord;
in its own direction and at its own speed.

Table SB 306! Unless and until APS tells the truth.

A head cold and icy roads prevent me from attending a meeting of the Senate Education Committee this morning.  Except for those circumstances, I would be there to speak against passage.  I would speak against removing what little oversight there is, over the APS Police force leadership.

The purpose of Senate Bill 306, link, is to enable the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education to create a publicly funded private police force, completely independent of external oversight.  It will allow the leadership of the APS to create a Praetorian Guard in every sense.  It will report directly to, and only to, the superintendent  and the school board.  There will not be even the oversight of the Bernalillo County Sheriff and his feckless MOU, link.

SB 306 contains a lot of disturbing language;

(4) requiring that disciplinary interactions between students and school police be based on the individual student and the particular circumstances of the student's acts or omissions.
Historically, it means special treatment of certain students to the overall detriment of discipline school and district wide, and the distortion of the statistical record of student misconduct.
(5) may enforce all applicable laws ...
(7) may make arrests for violations of law, ...
May arrest means may not arrest.   It means an APS police officer is given the discretion to let things slide, in particular if there are senior administrative or executive interests at stake.  Talk about calling a spade a spade, wikilink.

If the Bill passes, students will not be subject to arrest by officers who are working undercover.  Why not?  What business is that of the Legislature in the first place?
C. The superintendent of a school district, pursuant to authority granted by the local school board, may employ and assign duties to police officers for the school district. 
APS Police Chief Tellez arresting peaceful protestors at public meeting.
The superintendent may if he wants to, order people with badges and handcuffs and guns, to run off dissidents; however peaceful, however respectful, however protected by the First Amendment.  Are you kidding me?

Before the Senate Education Committee approves SB306, it is reasonable for them to insist that APS produce the public records regarding their abuse of the lack of oversight they already enjoy.

It's a public records request.  There is only one reason to hide the record.  It's a bad one; to avoid the consequences of stakeholders knowing the truth,

Email Senator Steven Neville, link, demand that APS produce the findings of at least three investigations into felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of the APS, before they he eliminates what little oversight than they already have.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rio Grande wrestler case pits student ethical standards against the law

According to APS policy, when APS students are suspended from school, they are suspended from participation in extracurricular activities as well. The intent of whoever wrote the policy could not be clearer.  The wrestler had been suspended; he should not have represented his school and APS in the state wrestling tournament. All the stakeholders previously agreed, at least tacitly, to abide by the rule.

Now a special case, special talent, special interest, and special influence.

The outcome will not be determined according to Students Standards of Conduct.  It will be adjudicated according to different and significantly lower standards of conduct; the law.

When the dust settles, APS policy will continue to read, students are expected to hold themselves honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law, though they are manifestly not.

Accountability to higher standards of conduct than the law requires doing more than the law requires, and less than the law allows.  Yet when push comes to shove, even self-proclaimed accountability to higher standards of conduct than the law evaporates.  In truth, it was never there in the first place.

Students, according to APS School Board Policy, are expected to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!.  Whether anyone actually believes the Pillars are appropriate standards for students, they are the standards.  Until they are rescinded or replaced, students are expected to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted, and respected code of ethical conduct.

Right, wrong, good, bad, or indifferent, the Pillars of Character Counts! are APS' Student Standards of Conduct.  They are by School Board Policy and the (tacit) agreement of every single school board member and senior administrator.

Worse than the fact that APS Student Standards of Conduct are being completely ignored in the adjudication of this particular case, is the fact that they are being completely ignored in general.  The same resolution that established the Pillars of Character Counts! as the APS student standards, also established a requirement to build character education into the not only the curriculum, but the very fabric of the APS. APS has no district wide plan to develop character in students. 

The leadership of the APS has made a deliberate decision to abandon district wide efforts to develop character in students.  The why? is up for conjecture in the continuing absence of any open and honest public discussion of APS student standards and accountability.

It could be argued, if the wrestler had received the character education and development he so clearly needs, if bullying in general triggered the consequences it should, we wouldn't be in this situation (nearly so often).

Interest holders have no idea why the leadership of the APS abandoned character education.  They will never hear any justification for the removal of the role modeling clause from the board's own standards of conduct.  It read; 
In no case, shall the standards of conduct for an adult 
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
There is an ethics and accountability crisis in the APS.
There is no real accountability to ethical standards of conduct.

If there is, why can't anyone point to those standards, and then point to the due process for allegations that board members or senior administrators have failed to meet them.

If we really want students to grow into adults who embrace honest accountability to higher standards of conduct than the law, someone has to show them what it looks like.  Then, and only then, can those adults expect students to hold themselves actually and honestly accountable to those standards.  Character is taught by personal example.

If the leadership of the APS isn’t willing to do that, then the APS board needs to revisit student standards of conduct and lower them far enough that board members and senior administrators are finally comfortable being role models of actual accountability to them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Incident with wrestler points to other problems

According to the Journal, link, an APS student was suspended for three days for taking money from another student and then slapping him across the face.  The Journal reports the incident was witnessed by a Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy.  They also report, previously;
"... the deputy saw Chavez hit the smaller student’s lunch tray out of his hands, but did not intervene.
More about that later.

The bully? has been charged with battery and larceny. The 195 pound Raven, denied any "malice" either in taking the smaller student's (lunch)money or in slapping him so hard he has been charged with battery. He, like every bully  defending their bulling, insists "we" were just "messing around".  Since when are a perpetrator and his unwilling victim, "we"?

Not surprisingly, the victim would rather the whole thing be forgotten.  He says he wasn't injured.

He was bitch slapped by a bully in front of a cafeteria full of his friends and classmates.  He was hit so hard the guy that hit him has been charged with a crime. By what reasonable standard was he not injured?  Why is whether he was injured even on the table?  And what other choice does he have, but to rather that whole thing be forgotten?

Why is a bully slapping the lunch tray out of the hands of another student in a cafeteria, not reason enough to intervene?  Where is the line, in high school cafeterias, between the behavior we permit and therefore tacitly condone, and the behavior we will not permit?  Its a fair question and one which the leadership of the APS will not answer.

The Journal conflated two stories in their report;

  1. the student and the APS and, 
  2. the influence of powerful politicians and public servants over the administration of the APS.
Remember grade-gate, link, remember the effect of powerful politicians insinuating themselves inappropriately in the administration of the APS.  Then look for any policy change or any other evidence of steps taken to prevent further inappropriate interference by powerful people with conflicted interests.  You will find no steps taken.

Hence the opportunity for inappropriate interference of Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz and State Senator Michael Padilla.  They still have the opportunity to take the power entrusted to them, to improperly influence other public servants and their public service. De La Cruz and Padilla were way out of line.

Whether APS' rules and procedures, the ones that disqualified the alleged bully and robber from competition in the state wrestling tournament, are the right rules and procedures is moot.  They are the rules and procedures and nobody outside the administration of the APS has any business in circumventing them, in-especially because the perpetrator is so far "undefeated".

School board member Analee Maestas used her power as a school board member to inappropriately influence APS Supt Winston Brooks.  School board policy and statutes are clear about the authority of school board members, in particular when they are acting as individuals.

Incredibly, though Maestas admits;
... she learned most of the facts of the case from De La Cruz, ...
she told the Journal that APS had "overreacted".  She also reported that based on based on De La Cruz input, there was only “horseplay” and “not serious.”

If we can agree that the battery was not just "horseplay", then did De La Cruz mislead Maestas?

Again, according to the Journal, Maestas insisted on a more thorough investigation of the incident but did not specify what, exactly, still needs to be investigated.

Padilla also insisted upon a thorough investigation, also without specification of what was not already, thoroughly investigated.

There is at least one thing still to be investigated.  It is the inappropriate interference in the administration of the APS, by school board members and politicians.  That would be up to the Journal.

In any case, De La Cruz called Maestas with conflicted interests, as a county commission and as a part time coach in Rio Grande's wrestling program.

I wonder if De La Cruz had been slapped that hard and under those circumstances, if he would report it as "horseplay and nothing serious".  I wonder if he would report the arrest of his batterer as an "overreaction".

Finally, it will be interesting to see if the incident is logged by APS as a "bullying" incident.  I wonder, only because APS is busy hiding statistics about bullying, chronically disruptive students, and about student discipline problems in general.  They hide data completely, or in weird places, to keep it from being understood.

It is the deliberate decision of the leadership of the APS, to hide the truth about student discipline in the APS from stakeholders.

You will have to accept as proof of the validity of that allegation, the absence of their record in administering the district's discipline policies.  The leadership of the APS either cannot or will not tell the truth about student discipline and chronically disruptive students.

You have to ask yourself why a million dollars worth of capital and human resources in APS' Communications Department, cannot or will not put together a simple PowerPoint presentation on student discipline in the APS, link.

Ask yourself as well, why isn't the Journal investigating and reporting upon student discipline problems in the APS, if only to report they exist only in my mind?

De La Cruz photo
Maestas Mark Bralley 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Son out of wedlock not Domenici's biggest fail

I hold that public servants are entitled to private lives.

The people are entitled to know how their power and resources are being spent by politicians and public servants.  They are not entitled to ignore the Constitutionally protected human right to privacy; not without a warrant.

Further, there are those who are arguing the it was so long ago, it no longer matters.  Following that logic, a more recent failure is more important.  Senator Pete Domenici, within his public service, and ten years more recently, failed 80,000 of his constituents in the APS, and much more profoundly.

He refused to stand up to the leadership of the APS, and against their abandonment of Character Counts! as the standards of conduct for APS students. He did nothing to protest their individual and collective abandonment of their obligations as role models of the nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct, he helped write.

Domenici once wrote, in explanation of his intention to vote to impeach the President,;

"Do not underestimate, my friends, the corrupting and cynical signal we will send if we fail to enforce the highest standards of conduct on the most powerful man in the nation."
It is fair to extrapolate;
Do not underestimate, my friends, the corrupting and cynical signal we will send if we fail to enforce the highest standards of conduct on the leadership of the APS.
He isn't alone in his abandonment of Character Counts!, link.

Domenici cannot right whatever wrong he did in 1978.

He is in a position to right a wrong he continues in today.  He is still, a
Founding Father of Character Counts!.

If we really want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor, someone has to show them what it looks like.

He could insist upon open and honest public discussion of standards and accountability in the Albuquerque Public Schools.

He could still stand up for the Pillars of Character Counts! and for 89,000 of his community's sons and daughters in the APS.

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Korte calls me a stalker

I wrote a letter to the editor, link, about online learning and APS' investment in brick and mortar education.  APS School Board Member Kathy Korte responded;

As is very usual for Mr. McQuigg, he speaks without knowing facts. He insinuates that public schools are places where kids don't learn. Coming from a man with no children in public schools, his argument is laughable (another usual thing with Mr. McQuigg). It is a FACT that our public school students do indeed take online courses and many are gaining college credits AND high school credit requirements while doing so. It is also a fact that our public school children are also getting valuable lessons in working in a professional environment one day: The ability to work with all types of individuals, regardless of their personalities and credentials. Learning only through online means does not make a whole student. There are valuable lessons to be learned within the walls of our public schools. Those lessons go beyond what is in a textbook or Promethean board. Deal with FACTS, McQuigg.
Unable to contain herself, she immediately replied to her own comment with another;
The stalker always gets his time in print. I wish the Journal ran a real letter to the editor from real folks in the trenches, like our Chamiza teachers who wrote a good letter to the editor but never saw that published! Drives me crazy.
With respect to always getting my time in print; perhaps she can point to the place where the Journal printed my allegations of
  • a cover up of felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators, or of 
  • the denial of due process to whistleblower complaints, or of
  • the abdication of the entire leadership of the APS from their obligations as role models of the APS student standards of conduct; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.

With respect to her "crazy", we are in complete accord.

Korte after lunging at Mark Bralley's camera.
As to her opinions on anything else, not so much.

Bottom line is she won't point to a time, a day and a place,
where she will respond to legitimate questions about the
public interests and her public service; candidly, forthrightly
and honestly, according to the standards of conduct
she establishes and enforces upon students.

Why students are expected to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts! and she is not?  How can she tell students to hold themselves honestly accountable to standards of conduct to which she will not hold herself honestly accountable?

As far as wishing for more Journal coverage, she should be careful what she wishes for.  The day the Journal begins their investigation and reporting on the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS and her complicity and complacency in and about it, is a day she will rue.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

This is what passes for review and approval

The Audit Committee will meet Thursday night.  On the agenda, link, discussion of Ethical Advocate Statistics, link.

Ethical Advocate is APS' whistleblower program.  It is a sham, link.  It is fundamentally flawed in that complaints are adjudicated by people who have conflicts of interests - they are colleagues, sometimes subordinates, of the respondents in the complaints they are adjudicating.

At one point, the school board addressed the appearance of a conflict of interests, by offering their personal review and approval of every single whistleblower complaint.

Now, after rewriting school board policy,
they provide a discussion of the overall statistics instead.

Of what use is that, to any of the hundreds of whistleblowers who have been denied due process of their complaints against administrators and board members.

I attribute the change in policy to board members own lack of character and courage; either they are unwilling to see administrators held honestly accountable for their conduct and competence, or they are afraid to provide for it.

If there is another reason, I cannot imagine it, and
no one else has suggested it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The future of APS' Police Force is on the line

APS is pushing legislation, link, that will enable the board to certify their own police "department".  Currently they run a police "force".

The justification; that only as a police department, can they really guarantee the safety of our children at school, is unsupported.

They would have legislators believe that only as a police department, can they train themselves to deal with students.  In any other setting but a legislative hearing room, if ask them if the APS Police force is doing a great job protecting students, they will tell you they have the best trained police officers anywhere.

The really important thing to understand is; in allowing this school board to establish their own police department, it means they will not be overseen by the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office.  There will be no external oversight over their conduct and competence.

As is, Sheriff Dan Houston commissions APS' police officers.  Without his commissions, they are security officers not police officers.  He is in a position to insist that they comply with certain standards or forfeit his certification.

Houston has allowed the leadership of the APS to hide evidence of felony criminal misconduct before his time.  He says all the records disappeared about the time Darren White left office.

White's Deputies, and by logical extension White himself, had been complicit in a felonious abuse of the NCIC criminal data base by senior APS administrators doing background searches on a number of APS whistleblowers , and a Deputy Supt's fiancee.

For as long as APS' police force is accountable to Houston, APS is clearly prohibited from ever again, being the sole self-investigators of their own felony criminal misconduct, and creating such a blatant appearance of conflicts of interests.

While Houston is overseer;

  • h. Any report of a crime which may be determined to be a felony offense, excluding property crimes, shall be promptly reported to and investigated by BCSD or APD.
  • i. All crimes which may be determined to be felony offenses, including property crimes, shall be documented utilizing a New Mexico State Uniform Police Report...
  • j. Any evidence collected by APS police in relation to any crime that may be determined to be a felony, excluding property crimes, shall be submitted to BCSD or APD for tagging and safe keeping.
When the APS School Board becomes the only overseer over their own police force, their Praetorian Guard, they will again have the authority to be sole self-investigators.  And, more importantly, the opportunity to hide their findings from criminal prosecutors.  The opportunity to abuse power without consequence, corrupts, absolutely.

Would they do such a thing?

They are doing such a thing right now.  They're hiding ethical redactions of finding of at least three investigations into felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators.  The scandal was reported in the Journal, link.

The Journal reported that cash had been moved from evidence to petty cash and spent without record keeping; a violation of state statutes and a fourth degree felony.  The Journal reported that (NCIC) criminal background checks had been done (on whistleblowers) and on Dept Supt Tom Savage's fiancee; a federal crime and a felony.

The Journal never followed up.

The bill reads;
Police officers employed by a district) may enforce all applicable laws on school district property. emphasis added
There is no justification for allowing officers discretion in which applicable laws they will enforce.  It creates the opportunity and therefore the pressure to compel officers to turn their backs on administrative and executive criminal misconduct.

The legislation would legitimizes;
oversight by the local school board and superintendent.
Its OK for the fox to guard the henhouse.

The bill will authorize;
The superintendent of a school district, pursuant to authority granted by the local school board, may employ and assign duties to police officers for the school district.

It will give Winston Brooks the power to order a publicly funded private police force, a Praetorian Guard, to arrest any citizen whose free exercise of their Constitutionally protected human rights to free speech and to petition their government, makes him or any member of the board feel in anyway uncomfortable, like;
why won't you produce ethically redacted findings of felony public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS Police force?

So basically, same old, same old.

photos Mark Bralley

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ballots sans signature create dilemma

Do we follow the rules or ignore them, just this one time?

The law sez;

you have to sign your ballot envelop if you want your ballot to be counted, 
for the same reason your signature is required when you vote in person.

A significant percentage of voters, 13%, neglected to sign the envelope.  Will an effort will be made to simply count these votes anyway?

Blogger Joe Monahan implied as much this morning, link;
Mayor Berry and the asleep-at-the-wheel city council need to protect the rights of everyone to cast a ballot. If they don't, that's why we have lawyers like Bregman and the like.
Are we to understand that if Mayor Berry doesn't take it upon himself to validate all the signature-less ballot, Sam Bregman will sue him? On what grounds? not being reasonable?

If signatures aren't really necessary, then don't demand them.
If signatures are really necessary, then do demand them.

Under no circumstances should a politician or public servant simply take it upon themselves to temporarily suspend their own accountability to the law, even if they think its the reasonable thing to do at the time.  Its simply too bad for anyone who forgot to sign their ballot.

I've been told by someone who forgot to sign. that the requirement to sign should have been written in larger print.

How much larger, still to be determined.

The future of learning is online

Online learning is the future of learning.  Until something better comes along, a Calculus II pill or some electromagnetic impulse "teaching", learners will be learning online.  From the moment they leave school, they will be learning online.

Forget for the purposes of this discussion the self evident brick and mortar considerations of learning.  Obviously there are needs to address legitimate group activity and hands on learning.  The open and honest public discussion needs to be about how we deliver the rest.

The only place where students won't be learning online, and more importantly, the only place where they won't learning how to learn online is in public schools.  And in other schools with a great deal of investment in capital spending and personnel; the spending of vast amounts of public resources and power.

The number one goal of education is to facilitate the development of independent lifelong learners; students who have no need for brick and mortar schools, nor for teachers, nor for administrators, nor for school boards.

There are those who future lies in hiding the dead horse.

Online learning threatens them because they have no control over it, nor any legitimate excuse to insinuate themselves in the spending of vast power and resources. 

A high school diploma must certify competency.  It must certify real readiness for meaningful employment or further education.

It needn't certify how the student came to that readiness,
because it doesn't make any difference.

For the rest of their lives, learners will have a choice between an expensive brick and mortar experience or an online equivalent; far more convenient and far less expensive.

Online learning is an idea whose time has come.

Deal with it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Had George Washington denied the allegation

When young George Washington was asked

"Do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? "
he owned up.  At least according to fable and Parson Weems, wikilink, he admitted
"I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet".
He didn't know, when he accepted accountability for his conduct, that he would become a role model for entire generations of American children, of character and courage and honor.

Students in public schools are entitled to good role models;
not just adults reciting timeworn fables.  Character is taught by example, character is taught only by example.  If we really want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor, someone has to show them what it looks like, by means of their own personal example.

Especially at school.

If you asked any school board member or senior administrator anywhere, if good role models are important in the overall development of students, you will hear a resounding yes, a resounding hell yes!

If you ask them if they will model honest accountability to the same standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students, you will see a stampede for the door.  Try it.  Ask any APS board member or senior administrator if they have any intention of being held honestly accountable to any higher standard of conduct higher than the law; specifically any standard of conduct that;
"... precludes all acts, including half-truths, out-of-context statements, and even silence, that are intended to create beliefs or leave impressions that are untrue or misleading."
Truth telling.

Albuquerque Public Schools has some highfalutin standards of conduct for students to model and promote.  In the APS, they happen to be the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct. link.

Yet the leadership of the APS model accountability only to the law; the lowest standards of conduct acceptable to civilized human beings.  They are immunized from accountability even to those by their free use of unlimited budgets for litigation, unscrupulous lawyers and legal weaselry.

I would hope that most school districts have codes of conduct for adults that include a role modeling clause.  APS board members and senior administrators used to have one in their standards.  It read;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult,
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
There are those in the leadership of the APS, who believe that having removed the role modeling clause, they have removed from their shoulders, the burdens and obligations of being role models of accountability to the standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students.

When School Board Member Marty Esquivel had me arrested during the November 4th, 2009 school board meeting, he was the President of the School Board.  He was the senior-most role model of APS' student standards of conduct; the was the senior-most role model of the Pillars of Character Counts!.  He was bound to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!; the same standards they established and enforce upon students.

He is still.  Whether he will admit to them, his obligations as a role model persist, even if the role modeling clause does not.  He has an obligation to show students what it looks like to respond to legitimate questions, candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

I have alleged;
(my) outspoken behavior and unrelenting scrutiny has angered the Defendants (Esquivel in particular).  As a result, Defendants have taken various steps, ..., to silence (me) by restricting (my) access to the Board's public meetings ...
Defendant Esquivel;
... denies the allegations ...
And now the evidence;

Is School Board enforcer Esquivel angry because I am outspoken and unrelenting?  He denies it.

And who ya gonna believe? Marty Esquivel, or your lying eyes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Korte's boggle to end

Every year, the APS School Board approves an Open Meeting Act resolution.  The will pass another next month or the next.  It will state the district's intentions with respect to its compliance with the requirements of the NM Open Meetings Act.

For at least the last four years, they have passed resolutions requiring themselves to give interest holders only 24 hours notice with respect to their meeting agendas.  Twenty four hours is the minimum allowed under the law, and the most they routinely provide.

Public bodies with more than a minimum amount of  respect for the community members they serve, give them more than 24 hours notice.  48 hours is better, 72 better still, and "as built" with a minimum; about as good as it can get.

Two years ago, School Board Member and batterer Kathy Korte was asked to insist upon increasing the notice of APS board meetings to 72 hours.  She declined, insisting the only the legislature could increase the notice to 72 hours, link.

That was never the case.  If it were the case, it will be no longer. A bill, HB 21, passed  59-0 in the NM House yesterday approving legislation that would require agendas for public meetings be made available at least 72 hours in advance of the scheduled meeting.

The next test is the Senate, and then the Governor.
Similar bills have failed before.

It is up the people who want 72 hours notice minimum,
to make their feelings known to legislators in time to do some good.

photo Mark Bralley

Defendant Esquivel offers inconsistency

In APS School Board Marty Esquivel's answers to my complaints, he writes;

33. Defendant Esquivel denies that Plaintiff’s internet blog is “news-oriented.” and

35. Defendant Esquivel denies that he reads the postings on Plaintiff's blog.
His responses beg a question;
If  Esquivel doesn't read the postings on Plaintiff’s blog, how is he in any position to deny or confirm its news-orientation?
If Esquivel doesn't read the postings, the proper answer to the question is of whether the blog is news-oriented is;
Defendant Esquivel is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief.
He used that answer at least 26 times in his answers, so we know he knows about it.

Interestingly, the rest of the defendants, in their Answers to my complaint, offered the same inconsistency, averring the posts are not news-oriented, while as the same time denying that they read them.

Their lawyers, whose hefty fees will be paid with dollars that could have been spent in classrooms, will argue; "its all legal".

Maybe, but "legal" is such a low bar to set for the senior most role models in the entire APS, and such a poor way to spend tax dollars, dollars that taxpayers expected to be spent educating their children and not in litigation against the public interests.

photo Mark Bralley

"Class size" arguments miss the point.

There is talk in the legislature of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce "class size".  The money would be spend building more classrooms and hiring more teachers.

A "class" in the usual sense means a group of students who are formed into "thought choirs"  of various sizes, that will think and learn together for a year at a time.  They usually find themselves seated in a formation of columns and rows suggesting headstones, and hence the name, cemetery seating.

The students in most classes have only one commonality, their age, the year of their birth.  This qualifies them to join the group, there to learn exactly the same things, at exactly the same speed, for a year.

By definition the model moves too slowly for better students and too fast for poor students.  What are they being prepared for?  Where again in their lives will students be expected to perform in formation?  Even if it were possible to herd kittens so to speak, why would we want to? 

Forming students into classes benefits no one in those classes; not teachers and not students.  It is a management tool, useful to administrators and legislators.  Their need to gather, compile and interpret performance statistics about education is perverting the actual delivery of education.  Classes do not serve class members.  What seems like an efficiency is really a hindrance.

The ultimate goal of education is to produce independent learners.  It should be the primary objective.  Were it, teachers would then find themselves in charge of  classes of largely independent learners, each progressing at their own best pace.  All else equal, a teacher can "teach" many more independent learners than they can group learners.  At that point, class size becomes considerably less relevant.  As long as the teacher still has time to give every student individual attention they need, the class is not too large.

When independent learning becomes the norm, teachers are freed up to give individual attention to students who actually need it, and their performance will increase as well.  We just have to get past the idea that students must learn in unison.

The only time students really need to be somewhere at once, is graduation day.  In order for a high school diploma to be of use to schools and employers, the diploma must certify that certain basic skills have been mastered.

The proponents of lowering class sizes can cite evidence that lowering class sizes promotes learning (as measured by standardized tests).  Citing that evidence ignores the flawed premise; that we must have "classes" in the first place.

Much better we spend a few hundred million dollars bettering education than broadening it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Maybe $800 a chair wasn't so bad after all.

Governor Susana Martinez just spent $260 apiece for some chairs and it caused a hullabaloo, link.  So, if APS really did spend $800 apiece for some chairs, a helluva hullabaloo seems in order.

Then comes this, link, a state legislator is looking for $200,000 to buy 70 chairs for her and her fellow legislators.  That works out to somewhere around $2,858. 14 apiece.

By comparison, APS' $800 chairs, link, don't seem so outrageous.

Remaining outrageous still; before the board member, mill levy and bond issue elections, APS Supt Winston Brooks promised to tell voters the truth about how much we really paid for those chairs,

and he never delivered.

photo Mark Bralley

Defendent Esquivel denies the effect of the "banning letter"

APS School Board enforcer Marty Esquivel has finally responded to the complaints I filed against him early last November. His response comes at the last possible moment. In so far as justice delayed is justice denied, Esquivel is dragging his feet for good reason; he is destined for his comeuppance.

Good ol' boy philosophy explains his glacial compliance;
every day you don't lose, is a day you win.

In a document entitled;
we find;

89. Defendant Esquivel admits that Plaintiff has not attended a meeting of the APS Board in over two years, but denies that his failure to attend meetings is a consequence of the September 1, 2010 letter.
He's splits a hair. I haven't been to a board meeting in over two years because of the banning letter and

because of Esquivel's Praetorian Guard, with their badges and
handcuffs and guns.

photos Mark Bralley

APS CNM election turn out 3.59%

That, according to County Clerk Roman Montoya.

Total Eligible Registered Voters  496,522
Turnout 17,823
Percentage 3.59% (emphasis added)
There is no reason to expect that to change.  About one in twenty voters cares enough about how their power and resources are being spent in the APS, to vote.  Is, was, always will be.

The proposed movement of school board, mill levy and bond issue elections November will raise the voting percentage but not the voter interest.  They will vote ignorant of the issues; their ignorance born of their apathy, and in the case of the APS, cover provided by the Journal and the rest of the establishment media. If the effort to bring transparent accountability to the leadership of the APS depends upon growing voter interest, the effort is doomed.

The answer is for the 4% who cared enough to vote, to empower themselves in some other way than at elections.

If only 4% of the 4% of voters who voted, showed up at a public forum to demand transparent accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence for administrators and board members, School Board enforcer Marty Esquivel would have to write nearly 700 unlawful restraining orders to keep them all away from the podium during public forum at a school board meeting.

691 torches and pitchforks is far more than enough to start a revolution that ends with honest and transparent accountability in the administration of the peoples resources and power.

If only 4% , of 4%, of 4% of the people who voted, showed up,
there would still be 28 people.  But that point,
things get a little more iffy.

Friday, February 08, 2013

APS "wins" prestigious award

APS Communications informs us, link, that the District has "won" a prestigious award by the Association of School Business Officials International. The award recognizes their "... skills in developing, analyzing, and presenting a school system budget."

APS Communications reports the "win" followed "a rigorous review based on stringent criteria". I could be wrong, but it looks like, link, all APS had to do to "win" the award was meet commonly agreed upon standards and pony up $1,150.  I will bow to controverting facts.

I mean, how rigorous can a $1,150 dollar audit be?

In exchange for our $1,150, APS got;

  • A handsome plaque and certificate
  • Comprehensive feedback about their budget from peers trained in up-to-date school entity budget techniques 
  • Letters of accomplishment sent to their superintendent and school board
  • Recognition of achievement in ASBO's professional magazine School Business Affairs and weekly online newsletter Accents Online, as well as in their state or provincial ASBO affiliate newsletter
  • Recognition through national and local media
  • Continuing education points for ASBO's Professional Registration Program
On the other hand, when real auditors took at look at APS Finance Department a few years back, they found;
  1. inadequate standards
  2. inadequate accountability, and
  3. inadequate record keeping
the trifecta of tempters for public corruption.  Likely, millions of dollars were being lost or stolen.

If asked, APS Supt Winston Brooks will say that he has made necessary changes, and if those same auditors (Meyners & Co), came back, they would find the situation in the Finance Department much improved.

He didn't ask them.  Instead, he commissioned an $1,150 review.

Couple with that, his steadfast failure to produce a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd, and his renege on his promise to "find out by noon" if we really paid $800 a piece for board member thrones, and you have to wonder what's really going on.

He promised, "I will find out by noon!"  If he did, he isn't saying.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

APS Ethics and Accountability Scandal, my imagination?

In the most general terms, there is a standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.  More specifically, there is an ethics and accountability scandal, according to the following argument.

The proximate success of the APS depends upon the standards of conduct and competence that apply to decision makers; board members and administrators, and upon accountability to those standards.  Too low standards are useless by definition, and even the highest standards of conduct and competence mean nothing if there isn't real, honest to God accountability to them.

It is scandalous if the leadership of the APS doesn't have high enough standards, and/or if board members and administrators are not actually accountable to them.

Board members and administrators hold themselves accountable to standards of conduct commonly called "the law".  If it s "legal" its ok.

A cursory inspection of the records of felony public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS Police force, the Caswell Report and the findings of at least two other investigations , could lead one to conclude, they really aren't accountable even to the law.  Scandalous.

It would be scandalous if board members and administrators had even the highest imaginable standards, and were not actually, honestly, accountable to them.  There is no venue in the entire APS where a complaint can be filed against an administrator or board member, and where that complaint is guaranteed due process.
If there were such a venue, someone could and would point to it.  Scandalous.

It would be scandalous if board members and administrators held students accountable to higher standards of conduct than their own.  Students are expected to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!; which is to say, they are expected to hold themselves, at risk of the forfeiture  of their good character, honestly accountable to nationally recognized, accepted and respected standards of ethical conduct.  Adults are accountable only to the law (see above).  Scandalous.

It would be scandalous if the board didn't afford due process to whistleblower complaints.  They voted to renege on their promise to review and approve the handling of every single whistleblower complaint, and to deny to process to more than 300 whistleblower complaints, filed primarily against administrators and board members. Scandalous

It would be scandalous if board members deliberately abdicated from their obligations as role models.  They voted unanimously to remove from their own standards of conduct, the words and responsibilities;

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

There is an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.  By any reasonable definition, according to any acceptable standards.


it would be scandalous if the establishment media was part of the cover up.

They are ignoring credible evidence and testimony of any ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.  All they have to do is ask; investigate and report.

If there is no scandal, if administrators and board members are honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, wouldn't that be just as newsworthy?  It would be scandalous to not report to the people, that control over their vast power and resources, lies in good hands.  They investigate and report nothing.  Scandalous.


Do we really want to fix what's wrong?

It isn't so much what the APS School Board has done in the past, as it is, what will they do in the future.

If you ask them if they want to fix what's wrong in the APS, the will say, yes.  What they won't tell you is that they also want to cover everybody's asses.  That is what they have done in the past; manipulate truth telling to their own advantage; unbound by allegiance to ethics or even the law.

All else equal; a problem addressed by;

  1. open and honest public discussion; two way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve, about the public interests and about their public service; the spending of our resources and the exercise of our power, or

  2. hiding the problem while trying to solve it.  Pretending there are no discipline problems while trying to get discipline under control.  Hiding evidence of felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators, while trying to make sure it doesn't happen again.
The old board deliberately stifled public discussion.
The new board is mostly by far, the old board.

The first step in any legitimate problem solving problem is to admit that it exists.

If covering asses is more important than solving problems, problems will not get solved.  Do we really want to fix what's wrong?

Are we willing to let the chips fall where they may?

Maes out, Duran squeaks by Robbins

Very occasionally, we are reminded that every vote counts.
David Robbins, 1,209 votes, Donal Duran, 1,211, link.


The future lies in the balance depending on the inevitable recount.  Two votes one way or the other, and APS could take different paths for at least the next two years.

If Duran hangs on, teacher and other site based interest holders will find a voice in the decision making that affects their interests.

If Robbins pulls out a win, who knows, he might just deliver on his commitment to more open and honest communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve.

Either outcome would serve the interests of students.

Lorenzo Garcia will take his seat again.
He has intimated there might be conflicts
with his future employment.  He has a
record of pointing to the problem of
no venue for hard to have conversations.

His record does not include actually
doing anything to create such a venue.

He could support the efforts of the
Citizens Advisory Council on Communication, has does not.

David Peercy will take his seat again,
and will continue his efforts to prevent
open and honest discussion of
executive, administrative, staff and
student standards of conduct, and
in particular the obligations of the
senior-most role models of the standards
of conduct they establish and enforce upon students.

He will continue his obfuscation of any efforts to restore a role modeling clause to his own code of conduct.

In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
Board Member Elect Steven Michael Quezada has not picked a side in the cover up of the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.  He remains untested.

With NM Broadcasters Assoc President and CEO Paula Maes out of the picture, the Journal and the NMBA affiliates, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB, may start investigating and reporting
upon the scandal.

Or they may not, we'll see.

photos Mark Bralley

Monday, February 04, 2013

APS "not close", but "well on our way"

I hold in my hand, a flier.  There is no indication who printed it or who paid for the printing.  It carries the APS logo, suggesting APS' approval.  It was one of a stack available in the lobby at 6400 Uptown Blvd.

It is entitled;

Albuquerque Public Schools: Keep On Keeping On
For some reason I found myself humming the melody to "Truckin", wikilink, as I read.

The flier purports;
Albuquerque Public Schools has made lots of progress in the four and a half years since Superintendent Winston Brooks took the held in 2008.  Here is a list of just some of those accomplishments and changes.  The work isn't close to done (and let's be honest -- it never will be), but were well on our way to becoming one of the nation's premier school districts.
"... just some" of Brooks' accomplishments and changes?  There are 69 listed.  The order went out; think of as many things as you can to put on this list; this is what they came up with; who kids whom?
"The work isn't close to done (and let's be honest -- it never will be), ...
"Let's be honest, it never will be" is what's called a straw man.
The argument that no one offered, has been laid to rest.
It supposes that somebody has suggested that the problem with the leadership in the APS is, they aren't perfect.   The thread of truth that sells it, there is never a final solution to a dynamic problem.  That said, the dynamic component is a very small part of a much larger problem.  Perfection isn't the issue; being as close to perfect as possible, is the issue.

The fundamental problem has not changed much; maybe over decades, certainly not one year to the next.  Yearly tweaking of the solution to the overall problem of educating 90,000 students amounts to very little.

Their straw man draws attention away from their surprisingly candid admission;
The work isn't close to done.
Seriously, 120 years later, shouldn't they be at least "close"?
Shouldn't things be about as good as it gets?

It is not as good as it gets,  By their own free admission, not even close. Nor are they likely to get any very much closer; look what they've had to do to get the graduation rate to 70%, many of them carrying near worthless diplomas.

We are not all we can be.

Might we ask, why not?

They've been at it for more than 120 years; since 1891, wikilink.  The administrative model they prefer, has been tested and tested and tested and tested.  It has been tested  123 times.

It doesn't work.

It has always been supposed in the APS, that there are only a handful of people who have the wherewithal to fix education, and that they should be installed at the top an oligarchy, telling everyone else what to do, and accountable to no one but each other; a good ol' boys club that lets women in.  Though a couple of lawsuits pending in Federal Court suggest that, at least under APS Supt Winston Brooks, women don't feel all that very welcome.

There is another model, a model that carries more promise than empowering a handful of people and that is, to empower and resource the people who actually deal with students on a day to day basis.

Then, maybe, we will get closer to getting it done.
It's worth a shot.

Achievement gap calculations are mostly misguided

Just because something can be calculated mathematically, doesn't mean there is any point in the calculation. Nor do the calculations necessarily justify spending precious resources to mitigate the results.

People who are found of wielding power and spending resources, see some point in grouping together all Hispanics for example, and then calculating the difference between their average performance and the average performances of other ethnic groups.  Someone is going to have to lead the movement to address the problem of disparate average performance across ethic lines.  There is a potential for a number of high paying and powerful positions to be created.

There is really only one achievement gap worthy of our worry;
the individual achievement gap; the distance between an individual student's actual and potential performance.

You can if you want, add them all together under any premise at all, and divide by n.  The calculation is justified only by an intent to devise some macro solution to address individual problems.

Imagine a curtain.  On one side a qualified teacher, on the other, an individual student with "an achievement gap".  The point being, the teacher is completely unaware of what "groups" the student might be part of; no idea of his/her race, sex, sexual identity, political persuasion, ...

The teacher can ask the student a number of questions, perhaps do a modest amount of "testing".  At that point, most any teacher and most any student can create a decent plan and a realistic likelihood of closing the gap between that student's individual performance and their performance were their needs being met.

It remains only to implement individual plans; the gaps will close, students will graduate with an education that qualifies them for work or further education.  The gaps of arbitrarily determined groups, Hispanics. Asians, Native Americans, African Americans, Others, will take care of themselves.

Where are we going to get enough teachers?

Students can learn without teachers.  Every learner, for want ever amount of time they are learning independently, frees their teacher to work with other students who really need a "teacher" at that moment.

There's a problem with independent learning; students are unaccustomed to it.  They are accustomed to doing whatever they want to, even it if isn't learning.

If you ask a teacher if you could pile 30 kids in a room and expect them to stay busy and on task, they would say, no. They are accustomed to working in schools where adults have lost authority over students.  They work in schools were students are in control.

They work in schools where you can't take a kid with a problem, off the assembly line long enough to address the problem.

The prime directive is, has been, and will likely continue to be; students must stay together.  There is neither time nor opportunity for students and teachers to work one on one.

Hence the need for global intervention; the need to find some model that works with groups of 30 kids at a time; 30 kids with nothing in common but the year of their birth and the neighborhood where they live.  Hence the need for cemetery seating, six rows of five desks, and thought choir learning strategies.

Dig where the gold is…unless you just need some exercise.
John M. Capozzi
The people who want to sell or be part of macro solutions to individual problems know where to dig for the gold; in conflating statistics and creating the appearance of a global issue, when in fact there is only a sea of individual issues each with it own face.