Thursday, July 31, 2014

APS Board Member Grades in; 3 A's, 3 B's and 1 C

If APS school board members were to be graded on their attendance at school board meeting between May 2013 and the end of June 2014, three would earn A's, 3 would earn B's and one would earn a C.

July data was not produced by the district and might well have further lowered two board member's letter grades.  The records, link, were produced in response to an informal request for records that APS took it upon itself to morph into a formal Public Records Request.  The records were immediately available and should have been immediately produced.  They used the process to add 9 days to the response.

Of the 105 (or 106 - I refuse to count them by hand again) board meetings that APS school board members could and should have attended;

  1. Analee Maestas attended 97%,  (A or A+)
  2. Lorenzo Garcia attended 96%,   (A)
  3. David Peercy attended 91%,   (A-)
  4. Donald Duran attended 89%,   (B+)
  5. Kathy Korte attended 82 %,   (B-)
  6. Marty Esquivel attended 80%,   (B- -)
  7. Steven Michael Quezada attended 71%    (C-)

  • fewer than half - 39% of meetings had full attendance.
  • 35% of meetings had only 6 board members participating.
  • about 8% of meetings had only 5 board members participating.
  • 17% of meetings had only 4 board members participating. and
  • less than 1% of meeting had only 3 board members participating*.
*Technically this is an impossibility as there wouldn't be a quorum if only 3 members were present.  I am supposing if a member arrives after role is called, they are still marked absent.

Board members had; 3, 4, 10, 12, 19, 22, and 30 absences respectively. Over the same period of time, students are allowed 13 (10 x 1.3) absences or be dis-enrolled.
Do as I say, not as I do.
Right, like that works.

Interesting, and in my opinion, newsworthy.

If, in the opinion of Marty Esquivel and the APS School Board

the "good" Marty Esquivel
APS' award winning website
Marty Esquivel et al., are writing some rules, link, to govern how you will behave and, what you will say when you have the floor at one of their meetings.  Having the floor means it is legitimately your turn to speak.

Esquivel et al., are concerned that you might disrupt "their" meeting while you have the floor.  Unclear still, how you can disrupt your own two minutes of the meeting.

What disrupts meetings is arrogant politicians and public servants disrupting speakers' two minutes, to tell them what they can or cannot say during their two minutes.

The laws on slander adequately protects politicians and public servants from slander.  If they doesn't, they need to change the laws.  They don't get to make up their own. Calling restrictions on liberty "rules of decorum" does not legitimize them.

Police officers have no call to enforce rules of decorum.

Rules of decorum do not legitimately empower or authorize Esquivel et al., to order police to enforce their rules of decorum as though they were laws.  Police are required to enforce the law not "rules of decorum".

the real Esquivel, photo Mark Bralley
Nevertheless, Esquivel et al., are prepared to order their publicly funded private police force to arrest you (the power of the law will be used to restrict your liberty) for "disrupting" "their" meeting even though you have broken no law.  Being arrested and being "charged" with a crime, are entirely different matters.

Esquivel argues; a speaker's refusal to obey, to kow tow to their will, is itself "disruptive".
Denying that you have been disruptive is "disruptive".
Questioning arbitrary and capricious enforcement of unjustifiable rules of decorum is "disruptive", 
regardless of whether the meeting is "disrupted" in any honest interpretation of that concept.

Esquivel et al., insist, on pain of arrest and ejection;
if you speak during the public comment period,
you must;
respect that (your) views and opinions 
may not be shared by all present.
What does that even mean?

Take for example my views and opinions that;
  • Esquivel et al., are role models of APS Student Standards of Conduct, and are therefore, accountable to those standards of conduct.
  • They are accountable as role models whether they like it or not.  
  • They are role models even if they refuse to admit that they are.
  • The obligations are immutable; inescapable except by abusing the power they have been entrusted.
  • Role models who will not hold themselves honestly accountable to the standards of conduct they role model, do so out of their own cowardice or corruption.
I get that Esquivel et al., disagree with my views and opinions, though audience members have on occasion indicated their agreement those views and opinions.

But how do I prove that I respect that Esquivel et al., disagree?  More importantly, how do I prove it to Esquivel's personal satisfaction?

Which brings up another point.  Esquivel et al. insist that speakers cannot repeat themselves.  They cite a court ruling supporting this restriction.

That only makes it "legal"; it doesn't make it right.

It serves well though, as an illustrative example of the contrast between "the law" and standards of conduct that require doing more than the law requires and less than the law allows; a fundamental precept of APS' student standards of conduct.

Esquivel et al., in addition to prohibiting repetition, would prohibit asking questions.  Woe unto them who ask questions repeatedly.

I have on a number of occasions repeated my question to board members;
Is there even one of you with the character and the courage to step up as an honest to God role model of accountability to the standards of conduct you establish and enforce upon students?
Because the answer is no, and they don't want to admit it, they need rules of decorum to prohibit my asking that question, again.  Because they can't just prohibit that question, and my other questions;
  • why will they not produce a candid, forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd? and,
  • why are they hiding the findings of investigations into allegations of felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators? and,
  • why will they not suffer an immediate examination and review of administrative and executive standards and accountability? 
they need a policy that prohibits all questions.

Not only do I disrupt their serenity by asking inconvenient questions, I compound it, apparently, but by asking them more than once.  How many times, exactly, can you ask a legitimate question about the public interests or about their public service, before you have asked the question one too many times?  Do we really want to put Esquivel et al., in the position of getting to make that call?

Will rhetorical questions be prohibited?
What if I wondered rhetorically and aloud;
Is there even one of you with the character and the courage
to step up as an honest to God role model of the standards
you establish and enforce upon students?
Because they don't allow questions, they pretend an alternative; people can submit questions in writing. The truth is, I have proved beyond doubt they don't answer written questions either, link.

If you want to make a point that takes longer than two minutes (or one minute in some cases) they tell you, you can write it down and they will read it.  Dig deep enough, you'll find their weasel clause;
The Board of Education Services Office (read "clerk") reserves the right to summarize information, correspondence and comments received prior to providing the information to the board members.
So, they really won't read what you right after-all.

To top it all off, rather than just using the videotape of public comments as the official record;
(Esquivel et al.) ... reserve(s) the right to summarize public comment in the official Board of Education Meeting minutes.
Next Wednesday, Esquivel et al, will approve their PPPMP during their regular meeting.

Next Thursday, will be a day too late
to anything at all to stop them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Words (in Journal headlines) have meaning

In the Journal this morning, link, the editors posit;

School grades show NM on track to improvement
No.  They don't.

In the first place, there isn't consensus that school grades even mean anything. There is no consensus because there is no empirical evidence in support of either the accuracy or validity of the scores.

Even if the scores were completely valid, they wouldn't "show" that schools are "on track" to improvement.  On track means; acting, or thinking, or making progress in a way that is likely to achieve what is required.

In essence, the editors argue that marginal improvement in shaky scores means NM schools are likely to start graduating, let's say 90% of students each carrying a diploma that actually means something.

Maybe on the planet Crack, not here in New Mexico and especially not here in River City.

If you're lost in a forest, taking a few steps in the right direction does not put you on track to safety.

Elsewhere in the Journal, link, in a column space that used to be for APS Supt Winston Brooks' exclusive use,  Doug Wine, the interim Executive Director of the NM Coalition for Charter Schools writes;
“The Productivity of Charter Schools” report released last week comparing National Assessment of Educational Progress scores for charter schools and traditional public schools, the return on investment of public school funding was found to be greater for charter schools than traditional public schools in every state in the country.
NAEP scores are one of those more objective and analytical measures of public school success that we never hear about; only that "graduation rates" are climbing; more kids "earning" nearly worthless diplomas.

Making diplomas easier to get has raised graduation rates.  It has not improved worth of the diploma.  It still isn't a reliable indicator that a graduate is ready for more education or begin meaningful employment.

Charter school success does not rest on marginally different approaches to educating children.  Their success flows from trying "radically" different approaches - something conventional public schools will never do. 

Because it's where the money is, "conventional" schools will continue to pound on cemetery seating, the effort to use group think to standardize individual performance.  There is never going to be profound growth using that model.

Charter schools may actually be on track to success but conventional schools are not.  There are going to blow away the Model T education models.  Even if group learning ever was the state of the art, it is not now, it will never be again. 

Journal editors should not be trying to lead people to believe otherwise.

The track to the educational salvation of children is to recognize their individual educational difficulties and address them individually.  The goal of education is or should be;
create independent life long learners at the earliest opportunity.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, July 28, 2014

Martinez claims credit for graduation rate growth - highest in the nation

Gov Martinez, PED Sec Hanna Skandera
Governor Susana Martinez has a new campaign ad up.

In it, she claims New Mexico is first in the nation in the growth of graduation rates.  She and hers would like to be given credit for it.

I asked PED Sec Hanna Skandera, why we use gradation rates to measure public school performance despite the fact that they are the least accurate of recognized indicators.  I'd like to see her take another shot at an answer.  I'd like to see them all answer that question.

I would like to know why the establishment's media has bought in hook line and sinker to the graduation rate dodge.  Why are they not pointing out the difference between graduation rates and every other indicator of public school's success?

Graduation rates are a statistical outlier in measuring public school success.  The use of graduation rate growth to imply substantially greater success in educating children, is fundamentally dishonest.

The rise from utterly acceptable to completely unacceptable in terms of graduation rates, no matter how meteoric, is insignificant.  It is a red herring to draw attention off the trail to every other indicator of public school success; all of which are essentially static or in decline.

To the extent graduation rate growth means anything at all, rates are so unacceptably low to begin with that even supposedly substantial growth doesn't get you where you want to be - not unlike jumping to get closer to the sun.  You can jump twice as high the second time you jump as you did the first time; you can double your performance in one jump, but you're still not really any closer.

People who point to increasing graduation rates like they mean something, in the face of contradiction by every other meaningful indicator of public school success, are those people who have an interest in having people believe something that simply isn't true.  They are the people interested in manipulating public opinion to suit their own interests.

photo Mark Bralley

APS, whistleblowing and systematic retaliation

A few years ago, auditors from the Council of the Great City Schools poked through APS.  Among their findings; a culture of fear of retaliation. 

They chose the word culture; the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes the leadership of the APS.  Its fair to assume they chose the word "culture" carefully and deliberately.

If one wanted to measure the character of an administration, there is no better indicator than the treatment of whistleblowers.  Retaliation against whistleblowers represses whistleblowing.

Whistleblowing, link, is embraced or repressed as a function of character of the administrative and executive leadership of the endeavor.  In particular, it is embraced or eschewed in direct correlation and clear indicator of that aspect of character that requires one to hold oneself honestly and actually accountable to clear and unequivocal standards.

Corruption; including guilty knowledge of corruption and the enabling of protracted incompetence, does not exist where a whistleblower's complaint sees due process.  Due process for whistleblower complaints and retaliation against whistleblowers relate inversely; due process precludes retaliation of any sort.

The leadership of the APS will meet today, link, to discuss Ethical Advocate statistics.  Not true.  They will meet to discuss some Ethical Advocate statistics.  Most of the meaningful data will remain hidden or was not gathered in the first place.

One statistic they won't share, is the number of complaints that were closed in favor of the administrator (likely) as opposed the number that were substantiated.

Is the number of substantiated complaints of retaliation important?

Yes, it is.

It is an indicator of the extent of the problem.  If you look at the data they do share, link, you will find Discrimination/Harassment/Retaliation is huge.  The conflated statistics make it harder to actually pinpoint the number for harassment and retaliation, which is probably why they are conflated to begin with; like when they conflated bullying and vandalism statistics to cloud both.

The leadership of the APS is perpetuating a culture of fear of retaliation against whistleblowers.

That is newsworthy.

The converse; APS respects and embraces whistleblower would also be newsworthy.

There is no reason then, for the establishment's media to not investigate and report upon APS' culture of fear of retaliation against whistleblowers, except that they are part of its cover up.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Should politicians and public servants be held accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law?

First, one has to define "higher standards".

Under "feckless endeavors" find;

any effort to finally define "higher standards" and the concept of "ethical".  
In my experience, the energy that people put into arguing about what "ethical means" correlates directly with their desire to enjoy exception from any higher standards of conduct at all.

It's a debate that will never end.  There will never be unanimous agreement on the whole meaning of higher standards and ethical behavior.

Nothing speaks truth
like videotape 
Though we can't agree on everything ever, that doesn't mean we can agree on something immediately.  We can agree on one thing that separates and differentiates higher standards and the low, between "ethical" and "legal" and that is truth telling.

Any higher standard of conduct than the law rests on the premise that the truth will be the basis upon which all else rests; the whole truth, nothing but the ethically redacted truth.

The difference between higher standards and the law cannot be illustrated more clearly than contrast between legal and ethical redaction of public records.

The "legal" end of the redaction continuum has politicians and public servants using the people's power and resources to redact as much of their own public record as they can get away with.  They pay lawyers unconscionable amounts of money to use loopholes and legal weaselry to hide inconvenient public records of their public corruption and or incompetence.

Consider the resources that Marty Esquivel and the leadership of the APS are spending to hide the findings of a number of investigations into felony criminal misconduct involving APS senior administrators and a number of their Chiefs of Police.  It's all quite "legal".

"The law" insofar as it applies to powerful pols and public servants, is what you have left after half the lawyers in the world have spent centuries taking thou shalt nots and bending them into thou shalt not, ...excepts.

Ethically redaction is based on an an ethical interpretation of the law.  Nothing is redacted except for good and ethical reasons.

However problematic defining "ethical redaction" may be, the one thing we know for certain is that, redaction of the record is not the prerogative of the person whose record it is.  Except that it is.  Politicians and public servants are allowed to redact their own record and then defend that redaction with government power and resources; the people's power and resources.

If you wanted to illustrate the concept of creating an appearance of a conflict of interests, if you were in search of an exemplar, a case in point; you would point to allowing pols and public servants to redact the record of their own public service.

What are we thinking?!

Politicians and public servants should not be even holding their own public record much less redacting it.  That's how government hard drives full of inconvenient truth, crash and then get ground into dust particles for recycling.

If politicians and public servants were actually and honestly accountable to any higher standards of conduct and competence than the law;
1.  They could point to them.  They could point to the place where they have written down clear and unequivocal standards high enough to protect the public interests. And then,
2.  they could point to the due process they provide for complaints over their failure to meet those standards.
The "leadership" of the APS can do neither.  I doubt that any government agency can.

That's why government is so bad at what it does; either or both of
1. inadequate standards of conduct and competence within public service, and or

2.  inadequate enforcement of adequate standards.
Oversight over the spending of public power and resources rests on truth telling; candid, forthright and honest.

The dearth of truth telling about standards and accountability in APS and in government in general, points to the distinct probability there are significant issues with both.

photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, July 26, 2014

NM FOG, Marty Esquivel and, Public Participation in Public Meetings

I think it's fair to say that if the minds that are the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government wanted to, they could write a Public Participation in Public Meetings Policy that is world class.

I think it's fair to say that FOG inspired PPPMP would read far differently than APS School Board Member Marty Esquivel's PPPMP.

Not that they should read the same.  Esquivel and his lawyers don't speak for FOG and aren't about shared interests.  Obviously quite the opposite.

The question is; will FOG react to Esquivel's PPPMP the same way they would react if it wasn't the brainstorm of a FOG super hero and heavy hitter?

Does Marty Esquivel cast a big enough shadow on the interests of the NM FOG, that they will ignore what he is doing because it is he that it doing it?

As an aside, I find myself wondering in which direction falls the equally large shadow of FOG heavy hitter, Alb Journal Editor and good friend of Marty Esquivel, Kent Walz.

Will the Journal editorial on pppmp come down for or against Marty Esquivel's efforts to further limit public participation in public meetings?  Will there be no editorial? Will they give consent with their silence?

A lot of people and the troubled FOG are having a test of  mettle;
knowing the right thing and then either doing it or, not doing it.

Confucius called it a test of courage.

Will FOG champion public meetings as open as the people deserve? Will they do something or nothing as APS and Esquivel close their meetings as much as the law will allow?  Since when is it what will the pols and public servants tolerate from the people instead of what kind of behavior will the people tolerate in their politicians and public servants.

Keep in mind, even real honest to God accountability to the "the law" is only accountability to the lowest standards acceptable to civilized human beings and; the standards that higher standards are higher than.

Sometime, we have to talk openly and honestly about higher standards of conduct than the law and even more importantly;
Do we really expect the politicians and public servants who claim to be accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law, to be actually accountable to them?
Any answer except yes, means no.

It always sounds histrionic to talk about battles between good and evil.

Nevertheless, diametrically opposite points of view on the public participation in public meetings fairly represents a battle between good and evil; transparency v. opacity, government of, by and for the people v. government by petty tyrants and bureaucrats.

Setting the limits on public participation in public meetings is the prerogative of the people.  As are every other one of the terms of public in-servitude.  They work for us.  If they don't want to meet our expectations on transparent accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service, they are free to not run for political office nor accept public employment.

It is not the prerogative of Marty Esquivel and his lawyers to tell the people what they can or cannot do or say while they have the floor in public meeting.  Public meetings aren't their meetings, they are our meetings.  It isn't up to Marty Esquivel to tell the people what he will and will not tolerate from them.  It is up the people to tell Marty Esquivel what they will and will not tolerate from him then the public interests and his personal interests conflict.

In particular it is offensive that this PPPMP is nothing more than a thinly veiled part of an effort to reverse a trend in adverse court rulings.  Adverse that is, to politicians and public servants trying to keep people from standing up a public meeting, in-especially when they have the floor and who are speaking truth to power; criticizing them and their public service, by name and to their face.

They allow, and will continue to allow praising them by name.  They will allow audience members to stand and praise them from their seats.  They will allow pretty much anything in the way of praising them short of spray painting it on a wall.

The minds that are the FOG could create a PPPMP that sets a standard for the free world.  Seriously.  New Mexico could be first in the nation in open government, transparency, and standards and accountability law.  They could write standards that citizens could carry to public meetings and insist their representative bodies observe and follow. 
Somebody should do something
pretty much everybody at one time or another
The trouble is; what the person saying it really means is
somebody else should do something.

Where better to pick a side in the battle between good and evil, than for or against Marty Esquivel's efforts to stifle public dissidence and dissidents who bring it on?

What better place to stand up for the side you pick, than the floor of a public meeting of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education?

photos Mark Bralley

Friday, July 25, 2014

The media, it would appear, are good to go (to the corner)

Not a peep from the media about the restrictions the leadership of the APS intends to place on the free exercise of their Constitutionally protected human right to be "the press", and with their co-equal rights as "any person desiring" to exercise any of their civil rights during a public meeting run by the APS.

Their silence gives consent - Plato derived

Perhaps one day, you will be moved to attend a public meeting hosted by the board and or senior administration.  The following rules will apply to you.  They will be enforced at the whim of whichever school board member happens to be in charge, and enforced by their Praetorian Guard; their publicly funded private police force; accountable only to, and directly to, link, school board members and senior administrators.

You will not be allowed to protest for one second, what you may regard and an arbitrary and capricious ruling.  They will provide no due process for any complaint that they have overstepped their authority.  You can if you want, sue them.  If you expect justice, as opposed to falling victim to an unlimited budget for legal weaselry, bring lots of money and or lower your expectations.

Audience Etiquette
Audience members shall conduct themselves in the same manner as outlined above for individual speakers.  Audience members shall not disrupt an open public meeting of the Board of Education and shall not incite others to do so either.
Therefore, raucous or disrespectful expressions of agreement or disagreement by audience members shall be considered inappropriate and subject to regulation by the board president or presiding officer.
All members of the audience shall remain seated unless recognized by the board president or presiding officer.
You will be deprived of your liberty by police authority, if in the sole discretion of some board member or senior administrator you have become "raucous"  or "disrespectful" in your agreement or disagreement with something a speaker has said, and won't follow their order to stop.  Expect that they will be considerably more tolerant of your standing and clapping, if you are stand or clapping for one of them.

They resolutely insist; as an audience member, if you want simply to stand up quietly at your seat, in support of some person or point that some speaker has made, and will not sit down if the tell you to, they can and will arrest you.

The problem; they are considerably more likely to tell you to sit down if you are standing in support of something they don't like than something they do.

They will be for example, considerably more tolerant of your standing and clapping for something they're proud of, than they will be if you are standing and clapping because a speaker just suggested that they hold themselves honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, within their public service; that they hold themselves actually and honestly accountable to the same higher standards of conduct they establish and enforce on students.

Armenta giving the leadership of
APS' Praetorian Guard, orders to
bounce me.  I won't stand in the
corner for her.
If silence gives consent, the Journal, KRQE, KOAT and KOB TV are willing to stay in the corner because APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta and the police officers who back her play no matter what or how stupid it is, tells them to.

I have to wonder if you will by your tacit approval, allow these people to think they can order you to your seat; not because you are actually disrupting their meeting, but for any reason at all.

What do they think you are, elementary school students?

The terms of public in-servitude are the prerogative of the people, not of the servants.  It's ironic; that they never once asked the public what they thought about public participation in public meetings.  Ironic isn't the right word.  Self absorbed and arrogant I think, are the words.

They and their meetings are already protected by the law.  If someone slanders them individually or collectively, the law will punish the slanderer.  If someone actually disrupts a meeting, a police officer whose sworn duty is to intervene, will.  Not because some school board member or senior administrators wants them to, but because they have witnessed a violation of the law and are fully authorized and expected to end it.

What the leadership of the APS wants is;
for the public to be held accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law.  They require for example, your manifest respect.  The law doesn't get that for them; they hope their procedural directive will.

Interesting; that the people's oversight over the spending of their trust and treasure is so feckless, the "leadership" of the APS can use operational dollars (dollars supposed to be spent on students) to pay lawyers to argue that
  • they are not accountable as role models and or, to any higher standards of conduct than the law; the standards of conduct that higher standards are higher than.
while at the same time they are paying Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta to convince the people that despite abject lack of any empirical evidence to support the claim;
  • the leadership of the APS is honestly accountable as roles models of the standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethics.

We have not yet gotten to the worst part of APS' new procedural directive on public participation in public meetings; Marty Esquivel's legal team's rules for speaker etiquette.

I'm guessing he thought he could push this abomination through the school board process without anyone noticing.  He relies on his friends in "the media" to continue to ignore what's going on, despite their own interests in the issue.

Perhaps they've been told that no matter where they have to stand for show, they'll still get the inside access they need to do real investigations and reports.

Should they ever change their minds about
wanting to do either of those.

other photos Mark Bralley

Where oh where has the hand made Character Counts! quilt disappeared to?

At one point, the leadership of the APS was unashamed of their support of a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.  They were so enamored of it, they made them APS' student standards of conduct.   According to APS Student Behavior Handbook, they still are.

Some elementary school kids got together and made a Character Counts! quilt and presented it to the senior most role models of student standards of conduct; the leadership of the APS.  They deny, by means of their wholesale abdication, that they are the senior most role models of student standards of conduct and are therefore accountable to them. So what?

The leadership of the APS, recognizing the public relations value of a handmade quilt made by little kids; hung the quilt in the board room they use when the want to limit public participation in one of their public meetings.

In the photo, school board members David Robbins and Marty Esquivel are seen sitting in front of the quilt.

In the photo, David Robbins is seen ejecting Mark Bralley and me from a public meeting.  Esquivel is filming it all with his cell phone in case we do something he and they could use against us.  He sat down with his camera at the ready.  It is worth noting; none of his record showed either of us doing anything wrong because of course, neither of us had.

Robbins admitted that the discussion and decision that resulted in our ejection was made outside of the public meeting (and therefore a violation of the Open Meetings Act).  Open government law expert Marty Esquivel took part in a conversation and decision making process he knew, or should have known was absolutely against the law.

In any case, the quilt and the mind numbing hypocrisy
that hanging it on their wall manifests,
have been replaced with APS maps.

I have been told all the Character Counts! teaching materials have been secreted away in closets.

I hope the quilt those little kids put together with their
tiny little hands and hearts,  is at least in one of those closets,
and not consigned to the dung heap like APS senior most
role model's obligations and responsibilities to model and
promote honest accountability to the higher standards of conduct the quilt had celebrated.

Test scores drop, graduation rates soar; they can't both be,

not if graduation rates accurately indicate student achievement.
not if test scores accurately indicate student achievement.

One of them has to be less accurate than the other.
We should be paying more attention the one than the other.
We are paying attention to the wrong one.

The leadership of the APS and their friends in the establishment's media, have decided to focus on graduation rates as the measure of their success.

This though it manifestly the less valid of the two.
This though it is the more easily manipulated of the two.

All you have to do to raise graduation rates is to give kids 5 years to earn one that counts, instead of 4.  Or, you can simply not count the kids who are least likely to graduate, when you construct the "cohorts" upon which all of the mathematical manipulations are based.

Unless they start cheating by giving kids the answers or changing their answers, test scores are nearly impossible to manipulate.

Measuring the performance of public schools is a easy as creating "tests" that accurately measure whatever performance standards apply to whatever graduation certificate a particular student wants to earn.

The most accurate measure of whether the mission has been successfully completed will be the test scores of students demonstrating their proficiency regardless of how the acquired that proficiency or how long it took them.  That obvious conclusion is being relentlessly ignored by people making money off cemetery seating and all that implies.

For as long as the establishment's media, let's say
the Journal, does not investigate and report upon
student discipline in the APS, you cannot trust them
to investigate and report upon anything,
no matter how grievous to yours and the people's interests.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sheriff - District Attorney have been "finalizing" the APS Tellez investigation for weeks now

One wonders; what gives?

More than the law requires, less than the law allows

The phrase was used when APS students were being taught about character; what it is, how to acquire it, and how to maintain it.

People of character, students were told, when defending their character, often find themselves doing more than the law requires and less than the law allows.

The leadership of the APS, Marty Esquivel and minions, in deciding how much public participation they will enjoy, is clearly doing only what the law requires.  They are role modeling accountability to diametrically opposite standards of conduct.

Never mind the hypocrisy, imagine the effect on your interests when the leadership of the APS simply decided that they were no longer accountable to any standards of conduct higher than the law; the lowest standards of conduct; the standards of conduct that every higher standard, is higher than.

Exactly what standards of conduct are school board members and senior administrators honestly accountable to?  Are they even accountable to the law?

Obviously they're not accountable to the same nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct they hold up for students.

We don't know the truth about APS administrative and executive standards of conduct and competence.  We don't know the truth because the leadership of the APS won't tell it.

The people don't know the leadership of the APS doesn't tell the truth because their "credentialed" press have failed them miserably.

Open letter to "the media"

Is it really alright with you that the leadership of the APS  insist
that you go stand in the corner if you want to record them
in any manner with any device during a public meeting?

Media Etiquette
Members of the media are welcome at public meetings of the Board of Education.

Members of the media and media equipment shall be required to video and photograph from a designated media representative area of the room in which the Board of Education Meeting is being held.

Media representatives shall cooperate with district staff regarding placement of equipment, photography and video requirements or be subject to removal from the meeting
Is it really alright with you that, if you stop to protest some ridiculous restriction of your free exercise of your Constitutionally protected human right to be "the press", you will be arrested (denied your liberty by people wearing badges) by members of a publicly funded, private police force - accountable directly to, and only to, the school board and senior administration?

Is it really alright with you that if you want to file a complaint over some ruling or removal, there is no due process for your complaint? ... not by APS and not even in the courts where APS holds the insurmountable advantage of an unlimited budget, legal weaselry and no real oversight over their spending?

Is it really alright with you that, when you ask them a legitimate question about the public interests or their public service, they are not actually accountable to any standards of conduct that require them to respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly?  This, in spite of the fact; they are the senior-most role models of standards of conduct, APS' student standards of conduct, that require just that and in just those words?

APS PIO Armenta
Is it really alright with you that PIOs offer you the truth as it has been spun in the interests of the people they work under, as opposed the people they work for?

It is really alright that they won't produce even "legally" much less ethically redacted copies of public records of investigations into felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators in their police force, the cover up, and the cover up of the cover up?

It shouldn't be.

It really, really, really shouldn't be.

photo Mark Bralley
the kind of photo you can't get from the corner

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Journal, KRQE, KOB no show policy committee meeting - KOAT stands in corner

The APS School Board Policy Committee just met.  Among other things, they voted unanimously to approve their new procedural directive on public participation in school board meetings.

Within it, the following rules on media etiquette at school board meetings;

Media Etiquette

Members of the media are welcome at public meetings of the Board of Education. Members of the media and media equipment shall be required to video and photograph from a designated media representative area of the room in which the Board of Education Meeting is being held.

Media representatives shall cooperate with district staff regarding placement of equipment, photography and video requirements or be subject to removal from the meeting.
I didn't recognize anyone from the Journal covering the meeting.  KOAT had the only camera. 
APS had a tech there who could have been running at least one camera but did not.

Armenta giving the leadership of
APS' Praetorian Guard, orders to
bounce me.  I won't stand in the
corner for her.
As soon as KOAT got in the room, APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta was on him in a flash.

Though I knew what she was telling him; I couldn't hear what she was saying, so I asked a few questions on my way out.

Not only had Armenta told KOAT to go stand in the corner, she told them they couldn't put a microphone on the table to record the audio.

The press, and in fact any "person desiring" has the right to photograph, film or record from anywhere in the room, in the absence of any good and ethical reason at all that they should not.

Marty Esquivel and APS' lawyers might actually prevail in litigation over this point.  Not because there is justice, but because they have an unlimited budget for litigation and spend it without any real oversight.  They're spending a million dollars in federal court right now, defending Marty Esquivel and Kathy Korte's egos.

I was impressed with Board
Member Don Duran's input.

He made far and away the
best points in most discussions.

KOAT has a great close up shot
of the back of his head.

If Bralley had been in the corner, the only photo he could have taken of the media being bullied by the leadership of the APS, would have been a close up of that guy's ear.

KOAT has no tape whatsoever of any board member that shows more than one of their eyeballs; two are flat out looking in the other direction.

APS Legislative Liaison and Policy Analyst Carrie Robin Brunder stopped her presentation at one point, to praise KOAT for setting such a good example of staying in the corner like they're supposed to.

Korte moments after attacking photojournalist
Mark Bralley because he wasn't standing in the
corner, like any "good" photographer would.
Board Member Kathy Korte needed to make sure that the language was amended to include everybody using any device, period.

Want to use your flip phone?
Go stand in the corner.

Never mind that your view now no longer includes anyone's face.

School Board Member Marty Esquivel arrived to the show late* and in his slippers.

When the discussion of public participation in school board meetings was next on the agenda, he caught my eye and he mad dogged me for awhile.

As usual, Policy Committee Chair Peercy allowed no public input; the motion passed unanimously.

Even Esquivel voted for it.  That's only remarkable because, if you watch closely, you'll see his lips don't move when unanimous votes are taken.  Too much trouble to vote, I guess.

There was no public forum this afternoon, but there will be a public forum at the next regular meeting, right before they ram the policy through in a consent calendar.

*I (indirectly) asked the School Board's Executive Director Brenda Yager, for school board member's meeting tardy and attendance records.  I had not made a records request, I had simply made a request for some records.  She told me;
In order to be as responsive as possible regarding the information you are seeking, including ensuring that the information covers the relevant time period, please send an Inspection of Public Records request to Rigo Chavez.
adding up to fifteen days to the process.

APS Director of Communications and Public Records Custodian Rigo Chavez answered;
I have asked Brenda Yager of the APS Board of Education Office for documents related to this request and will let you know within the 15 days allowed* by the Act of any documents located.
See what I mean?

"Allowed" being the operative word. You would be surprised,
and deeply disappointed by what the law "allows" them to do and not do.

photos Mark Bralley
Armenta and the APS thumb ched macquigg

Should the NM FOG boot Esquivel or should he resign?

Marty Esquivel as he and APS
would have you believe he appears.

APS School Board Member Marty Esquivel is no longer an officer in the FOG.  He has been before and was once even awarded the foundation's distinguished Dixon Award, for heroes of transparency.

He was even, at one time, FOG President about to be elected.

His actual election fell through when I informed the FOG Board of Directors about Esquivel's part in bamboozling the FOG into giving a  Dixon Award to APS Supt Winston Brooks while he was, and still is for that matter, covering up the cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving senior APS administrators.

APS' new Public Participation Policy, Esquivel and the board's keep MacQuigg from pointing to our individual incompetence and incompetence from the podium of a public forum policy, is an open meetings outrage.

According to the FOG website, Esquivel still sits on the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government's Board of Directors.

How funny.

Open letter to "the Media"

In case you don't know, Marty Esquivel and the board are going to begin the process of pushing through a policy change tonight.  Though it is an effort to keep me from standing up a public fora and criticizing them and their public service, there will be a tangential affect on the media.  They can't restrict the free exercise of my right to be the press without restricting theirs.  To keep me from videotaping them from where I need to, they have to impose the same restrictions on "the media" as well.

They would really rather, is that I not stand up during the next public forum and ask questions they don't want to answer.  Questions they cannot summon the character and the courage to answer in public and on the record;

why students are expected to model and promote honest accountability to a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethics, and school board members and senior administrators are not?
Why will they not produce ethically redacted findings of independent investigations into felony public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS Police force?
Why will they not commission an impartial examination and review of APS executive and administrative standards of conduct and competence, and then produce the findings to public knowledge?
any other question to which a candid, forthright and honest response would mean admission of public incompetence or corruption in the leadership of the APS.
In their new public participation policy; the policy for the "media" is laid out.  There is a controversy of the use of the phrase the media, when what we're really talking about is the press, and the protection provided for them by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Media Etiquette

Members of the media are welcome at public meetings of the Board of Education.  Members of the media and media equipment shall be required to video and photograph from a designated media representative area of the room in which the Board of Education Meeting is being held.

Media representatives shall cooperate with district staff regarding placement of equipment, photography and video requirements or be subject to removal from the meeting.
"The media", the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, KOB TV, will stand in the corner to record any aspect of school board meetings. If from that corner, they cannot photograph the face of all of the participates, too bad.

If they don't like it, and stop to protest, a publicly funded private police force, a ####king Praetorian Guard* will escort them off "their" property.

Really? !

The Open Meetings Act requires the APS School Board to make reasonable accommodations for the press to photograph, videotape or otherwise record any public meeting.

Update: I stand corrected; the Open Meetings Act requires reasonable accommodation any person desiring to attend the meeting.

Reasonable accommodation can mean two things;
1.  they get to tell the press and the people, where they are required stand, or
2.  they get to tell the press and the people, where they can not stand; for some good and ethical reason like a fire lane, respect for personal spaces, whatever.
The one thing is in board member and senior administrators' personal interests and the other in the interests of a free press.

You would think "the media" would be howling.

One wonders why they aren't.

Esquivel's no more MacQuigg policy acknowledges that holding up a poster during a public meeting, and providing the poster interferes with no other aspect of the meeting "may be generally acceptable".


Tell that to these people.

Tell that to this guy.

Sure; you can hold up a poster; outside.  hahaha 

APS COO Brad Winter, APS Chief of Police Steve Tellez,
a uniform, a badge, a gun, and a have a nice day sir.

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Videographer needed for APS Policy Committee meeting

If you cannot attend the Policy Committee meeting, you can listen to it on APS' award winning website.  You cannot watch the meeting because, with the exception of regular school board meetings, they chose to not videotape any meetings they don't want to videotape.

I assume the techs are full time employees, and the equipment is bought
and paid for, so  what's the problem?  Why can't they create a videotape?

The APS School Board has the wherewithal to record the Policy Committee meeting, and every other committee meeting, the same way they record regular school board meetings.

They chose to not do that, because they don't want to, and
because the law allows them that self indulgence.

I am unable to record the meeting.  The board and their lawyers will argue that my pointing a camera at them intimidates them.

The people's videographer
Mark Bralley is still banned
from APS property.

He has been since School
Board Member Kathy Korte
went berserk on him and
then claimed he had thrust
his camera lens into her hand.

The people need a video record of the Policy Committee meeting wherein the leadership of the APS will seek to further limit their accountability to the community members they serve..

The people wouldn't have to create their own record of the policy committee meeting if the school board made one.  There wouldn't even be the issue if, as a matter of course, they created the best possible records of their meetings.

By what logic is it necessary to audiotape a meeting but not videotape it?

Failing to create the best possible public records of the
spending of the people's resources and the wielding of
the people's power, is nonfeasance at best,  
malfeasance at worst.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the establishment's media, the "credentialed" press, cannot be depended upon, even to show up at the meeting, much less videotape the discussion and action on School Board Police BE4.

I wonder if the "credentialed" press has even read APS' new rules for them. 
Members of the media and media equipment shall be required to video and photograph from a designated media representative area of the room ...
I wonder how the credentialed press feels about the board's intention that they stand in the corner to record meetings, in exchange for later disparate access.

Never mind that from that corner they cannot photograph or film all the player's faces.

In any case, there needs to be a videotape record of APS School Board Members deciding whether to further limit public participation in public meetings.

We need to see their faces as they discuss and decide our rights.

photos Mark Bralley

All that's missing; due process

Read APS new public participation policy, link.
... the the board president or presiding officer shall be authorized to enforce this procedural directive by (numeration added):

  1. Interrupting presentations and comments to remind speakers and audience members of this procedural directive;
  2. Dismissing or ending the speaking time of previously recognized speakers who violate this procedural directive;•
  3. Requesting speakers or audience members to leave the meeting if they violate the procedural directive in a manner that is disruptive to the board business
  4. Requesting the assistance of law enforcement officers to assist in removing speakers or audience members who refuse to leave;
  5. Recessing or adjourning the meeting as a result of speaker or audience conduct that is in violation of this procedural directive;
  6. Individuals who violate this procedural directive may be subject to criminal charges and may be prohibited from future meetings, and
  7. Arresting or filing criminal charges against a speaker or member of the audience who is in violation of this procedural directive … (because) … it is a petty misdemeanor to “disturb any meeting of the people assembled for any legal object.
They have listed at least seven things they can do, if in the sole and unchallengeable opinion of one school board member, you have violated their rules of "decorum".

They list not one venue where you might object to arbitrary and subjective determinations by upset school board members.

Marty Esquivel is supposedly an "expert" in the law.
Watch how he abuses the power he was entrusted. 

Their process does not allow you to protest an arbitrary and capricious decision by a committee chair.  If you do, you are ruled disruptive and then ejected by their publicly funded private police force, link, a Praetorian Guard if ever there was.

If you have a few years and a few hundred thousand dollars,
you can of course, sue them.

Esquivel and APS' Public Participation Policy a frontal assault on the OMA

The politicians and public servants who run the Albuquerque Public Schools are being sued in federal court.  An inevitable outcome of that litigation is that they are going to have to write a public participation policy that is consistent with the Constitution.

They have told their lawyers; write us a policy consistent with the Constitution and with the Constitutional flexibility that their unlimited litigation budgets and legal weaselry can create.

Do everything you can to keep limit the free exercise of Constitutionally protected human rights to stand up at a podium in a public meeting and criticize board members and senior administrators by name.
It would be interesting to know how much taxpayers ponied up to have which APS lawyers write it.

There is a brouhaha brewing around the country.
On one side; the people trying to participate meaningfully in decision making that affects their interests.

On the other, politicians and public servants hiding all of the truth that the law will allow them to hide, for as long as they want.
To the extent latter succeed, it spells the end of democratic government.

To the extent the former continue to allow politicians and public servants to self-redact the record of their own public service, they allow and enable them to hide the truth about the public interests and about their public service.

Some where, some time, there will come a time when people stand up to take back control over the spending of their resources and the wielding of their power.

Standing in front of and against them, NM FOG heavy hitter and open government expert, Defendant Marty Esquivel et al.  They are about to further limit your right to criticize them or their public service in public.

Read what he intends.  Read what the people paid the lawyers to write for him; Link.

Esquivel sits on the NM FOG Board of Directors.
I just emailed them and plopped this in their punch bowl;
maybe they should weigh in.

As for everyone else; those who are waiting for the "perfect" time and opportunity to stand up and fight back against governmental arrogance, will find that time never came.

There is here, there is now, there is this.

Fight back.

At least show up and take note.

photo Mark Bralley

"Young men of color" don't have an achievement gap

School Board President Analee Maestas attended an event in Washington DC where APS joined 60 other school districts, link, pledging to improve the academic and social outcomes of boys and young men of color.

They will not succeed.  They will not succeed because they intend to address a problem that does not exist; a group achievement gap.

All achievement gaps are individual.  The gap is the difference between where a child is, and where the child could be.  Grouping them is a mathematical machination, the only point of which is to group children with individual problems in order to apply a "group" solution to their individual achievement gaps.

If we simply identified and then met the individual needs of every student, there would be no more individual achievement gaps.  If there are no individual gaps; there are no "group" gaps.

All meaningful solutions to achievement gaps ultimately address individual gaps.  There are no group solutions to individual problems.  If the educational problems of children could be solved by group solutions, the problems would be solved. They would be long solved.

The only advantage of identifying a group that supposedly needs attention, is to justify the creation of yet another bureaucracy to deal with it; build a bigger machine even if the machine is demonstrably a failing.

The solution to individual achievement gaps is to identify the factors that keep the individual students from reaching their potential, and then mitigate or eliminate them.

Unless of course, your interest is in further growing the machine.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, July 21, 2014

The APS Board is being less than honest about open meetings law

The APS School Board is meeting to find a way to further limit meaningful participation by stakeholders in the board's decision making process.

They make the following argument in support of their effort to duck inconvenient questions.

Your Constitutionally protected human right to petition your government by means of asking during public comment and public fora, legitimate questions about the public interests and or about their public service because;
The New Mexico Open Meetings Act prohibits open discussion amongst board members for any item not listed on the Board of Education Meeting agenda.
The actual wording of the NM Open Meetings Act, link, given enough legal weaselry can be made to mean that I suppose.

It is hard to believe that the intent of the law was to prohibit the people from standing up at a podium in a public meeting; asking questions, and then expecting their politicians and public servants to respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

The APS School Board has all the lawyers, guns and money they can use.  Their litigation budget is unlimited.

There is only self-oversight by the board over their spending on their own legal defenses' regardless of cost, regardless of (lack of) justification there for.  Their only other oversight is by underlings, though subordinate oversight is oxymoronic.

In short, they have the wherewithal and the will to litigate their way into proving it is "the law" that keeps them from responding to legitimate questions about the public interests and about their public service.

I don't believe that they are being candid, forthright and honest; a higher standard of conduct than the law.

I use those particular words; candid, forthright and honest because those are the very words the board uses when they tell students how they are expected to respond to legitimate questions.

and by logical extension their role models,
especially including their senior-most
executive and administrative role models, 
are required to be candid, forthright and honest by the code of conduct the board established and then has their superintendent enforce upon students.

APS student standards of conduct are the Pillars of Character Counts!, link.  The Pillars are a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.

Whether they should or should not be the student (and adult) standards is moot.

It is moot because the Pillars are APS' student standards of conduct.  They have been since 1994.
They are made so again, annually, in the APS Student Behavior Handbook.
Students are expected to model and promote honest accountability to the Pillars of Character Counts!
Respect, Responsibility, Trustworthiness, Caring, Fairness and
Citizenship; higher standards of conduct than the law.

The law is of no use in enforcing higher standards than the law.  In particular if the defendants are not bound only by the law stretched to its limit by legal weaselry.  

The law, loopholes and legal weaselry represent the lowest standards of conduct acceptable among civilized human beings.  "The law"; the standards of conduct that every higher standard, is higher than.

If the school board were actually accountable as the senior-most role models of student standards of conduct, they would not make statements like these, statements that are
intended to create beliefs or leave impressions that are untrue or misleading
APS Student (and honest to God role models therefor) standards of conduct prohibit all acts;
half-truths, out-of-context statements, and even silence (stonewalling) if the intention is to deliberately mislead or deceive.

These people are not being honest.

The last thing you want to do is let them make it easier to keep the people from holding them accountable for their character and competence as school board members and as public servants.

The last thing you want to do is let them tell you that you can't ask them questions about their spending of your  power and resources.

The last thing you want to do is find any other place to be next Wednesday afternoon during the Policy Committee meeting.

They have to know you are at least watching.

photo Mark Bralley

APS Public Forum policy change; records hidden

The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education Policy and Instruction committee plans to meet Wednesday at 5 pm.  According to their agenda, link, they will meet to discuss and then give their stamp of;

Approval of Changes to Board of Education Policy BE4 Public Participation at Board of Education Meetings
The problem is that state law requires those policy changes to be made available for public inspection at least 72 hours before the board approves them. It gives interest holders the time to react to an outrage before its too late.  They are not available as I write.

It has been APS practice for some time, to publish their agenda online.  Part of the agenda has been the opportunity to click onto links to the documents that the board will discuss.

If you actually clink on the link to the agenda, you will have an opportunity to click on a "packet".  In the past, that provided the same agenda but with links to documents under discussion and subject to action.

If you do click, you'll find you no longer have access to the packet, but instead have to "sign in" with no way to sign in if you aren't already signed in.  The same is true for the District and Community Relations Committee Meeting, link.

Holding a meeting without posting the agenda and all its components 72 hours before the meeting violates the law.

Which is not to say, they will be or even can be held accountable for violating the law.

Board members and senior administrative personal accountability for violating the law is always subject to whatever cost is no object legal defense they'd like to put together to avoid said accountability.  They can do this because, they can do it without any real oversight.

Consider their current effort to defend Marty Esquivel and Kathy Korte's egos in federal court.  It is going to cost taxpayers a million dollars.  It is manifestly unjustifiable.

They will do this in plain sight.

In-especially, they will do it in plain sight of the Journal.
This despite the Journal's inexorable obligations to report on public corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the public schools.

The only reason they don't, is because you can't make them.

Back to the policy change process.

Don't need your stinkin' input.
David Peercy chairs the Policy and Instruction committee.

There is no public forum at his
meetings because the coward
David Peercy, link, has
no interest whatsoever in
public participation in
his decision making process.

He really doesn't care what you think about them limiting the free exercise of your rights and responsibilities to participate meaningfully in decision making that affects the public interests.

None of them do.  Proof to the contrary will come when it is their turn to speak Wednesday.

There is no public forum.  And even if there was, the opportunity to sign up for it closes before most people get of work; by their deliberate design.

It is a committee of the whole.  Every school board member will have the opportunity and obligation to pick a side.

open government yes, but not for us.
I can't wait to see what transparency in government hero and Defendant, Marty Esquivel has to say.

Who knows, this might be another meeting he misses.

Each and every school board member will
1.  stand up and speak up in favor of open and honest public discussions of important issues, or

2,  vote in favor of further limiting your rights to participate meaningfully.  

Consider that it is their latest "rule of decorum" that
you my praise any one of them by name, but
if you want to criticize them, you can't.
The Journal knows about it, link.  Judging by their lack of investigation and report, they're good with it.

update; by 11:11, the link had been corrected and now links to the "packet".  They remain in violation of the 72 hour rule.

photos Mark Bralley

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's the lack of accountability, stupid*

*it's the economy stupid wikilink

In the Journal this morning, link, we find a gem.  If after reading the investigation and report, you are not concerned that there is a profound lack of actual, honest accountability over the spending of our resources and the wielding of our power by politicians and public servants, I can't imagine what could.  Do you need to be hit in the head with a brick?  (Disclaimer and note to Marty Esquivel's lawyer; I'm not really suggesting that anyone should or would hit anyone with a brick ever, and especially not Monica Armenta.)

The success of every endeavor depends on factors within and beyond our control, within our sphere of influence or not.  Forget for the moment things we cannot control.

That leaves standards and accountability; two factors over which we have absolute control and that correlate directly with the likelihood of success.

An endeavor will succeed if the people who engage in it are actually and honestly accountable to standards of conduct and competence that are high enough to enable their success.

Standards without accountability are meaningless; no matter how high those standards are claimed to be.  There isn't a whit of difference between the highest standards and the low, if neither is being enforced.

There is no problem in government that cannot be traced back to one of two wells;

  1. the failure to establish high enough standards of conduct and competence for politicians and public servants within their public service, or
  2. the failure to hold politicians and public servants actually and honestly accountable to them.
There is an opportunity to hold one small group of politicians and public servants actually and honestly accountable for their public service; a simple independent examination and review of the standards they have established and enforce.
1.  Have they established high enough standards of conduct and competence to protect the public interests in the public schools?

2.  Are those standards being enforced?  Are school board members and senior administrators actually and honestly accountable to those high standards by due process; free of appearances of conflicts of interests and impropriety?
The answer is, you really have no idea what standards they claim or whether any of them can actually be held accountable to them.  How would you know?

APS PIO Monica Armenta
How would you know except to hear them tell it?

They spend a million dollars a year spinning the truth.

There is a reason they won't allow an independent examination of their standards and accountability.

It isn't because they don't want to toot their own horn.

It isn't because they can't afford it.  The leadership of the APS is spending a million dollars in federal court just to defend two board members egos; Marty Esquivel and Kathy Korte.

That they can, suggests;
1.  the standards of conduct and competence that bind them don't prohibit spending our power and resources in their own self interests, or

2.  if those standard exist, they are not being enforced.
I'll save you the search.  They do have a standard that prohibits them from making decisions in their own interests and no, they are not accountable to it.

They avoid accountability by self investigation of misconduct and by spending millions of dollars a year litigating against the public interests to create exceptions for themselves from the law and from the consequences of ignoring it.

If the Journal dug as deep into standards and accountability in the leadership of the APS as they dug into the report on WIPP, you would know about a standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS.

Their effort to cover up the crisis is scandalous.
There is a standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

That there is no Journal investigation and report on standards and accountability in the APS, even to report that
  • there is no scandal, there is no cover up, 
  • there are high enough standards and that 
  • the leadership of the APS is actually and honestly accountable to them 
suggests that the Journal is part of the cover up of a scandal or failure to seize upon an administrative success story.

Hmm, covering up a scandal or missing a wonderful success story?


photo Mark Bralley

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Journal conflates stories, does justice to neither

Two stories played out when the school board met Friday morning for the purpose of discussing Supt Winston Brooks improvement plan and ended up debating teacher transfer language.  The stories; Brooks' improvement plan and teacher transfers are unrelated.

One could argue that Brooks' tone deafness to teacher interests should be addressed in his improvement plan, but other than that; two different stories entirely.

On the subject of Brooks' improvement plan; the Journal mentions only as an aside, that Brooks entire evaluation process is taking place in secret from interest holders.  One would think a bonafide newspaper would pause at least for a moment, on that very disturbing note.  No such luck.

The Journal reports, link; the improvement plan discussion did not take place because two of the seven board members didn't show up.  The Journal went on to identify the board member who didn't show up at all, but did not identify the member who showed so late, the discussion had to be postponed anyway.  Hmm?

Kent Walz routinely
covers Esquivel's ass.
The lack of candor, forthrightness and honesty might have been accidental, or it might be because the tardy member is a good friend of the Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz and especially immune to Journal scrutiny over issues like his in-attendance, tardiness, incompetence and corruption.

Because Brooks' improvement plan couldn't be discussed, the board moved on to discussion of the negotiated agreement between teachers and the district.

Negotiations are currently in impasse because the district wants to move closer to allowing administrators to transfer teachers at will, and teachers have no reason to believe that kind of power won't be abused.

The fear that there are principals who abuse power broached briefly during the discussion.

School Board member Marty Esquivel, who had finally showed up, assured teachers that principals would not transfer teachers arbitrarily.  In so saying, he manifests his abject ignorance of the state of the APS and human nature itself,  or a deliberate effort to mislead interest holders.

In contrast, the Journal reports, Board member Kathy Korte said she has changed her mind on the transfer issue and no longer wants to give the administration more power to move teachers.

Because, she said, she fearsd principals and administrators could abuse the power.

Gee, ya think?

A principal who will abuse one power, will abuse another, and another.  It's human nature.  It's the concern expressed by Lord Acton who wrote;
“All power tends to corrupt;
absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Transfers at the drop of a hat are one tool used to retaliate against teachers who principals dislike.  That and the fundamental issue of the "culture of the fear of retaliation in the APS" identified by independent auditors, like so many important APS issues, remains unexplored by the Journal.

It will likely go unexplored for at least as long as the cozy relationships between the leadership of the APS and the establishment's media continues to trump their obligations to inform the democracy; candidly, forthrightly and honestly.

photos Mark Bralley

APS board member absences interfering with business

APS School Board Member David Peercy noted during one of their meetings yesterday, that board members who don't show up for meetings are preventing them from having the full blown discussions they need to have.

In running for the office of school board member, candidates promise that they have the time to do the job

It is now up to the Journal to investigate and report upon school board member attendance at school board meetings. 

I'll make it easy for them;
look first at the attendance records of your
editor Kent Walz' buddy Marty Esquivel.

photo Mark Bralley