Tuesday, May 05, 2015

On the character and courage of APS Supt Luis Valentino

Theodore Roosevelt observed that;

To educate in the mind and not in the morals
is to create a menace to society.
Of the all the things we expect a public school education to do for our children, which is more important than helping them develop their good character?

I get that there are unresolved issues in and around "character education".  I believe most of those issues could be resolved in open and honest public discussion.

There will not be an open and honest discussion of ethics, standards and accountability in the APS by the deliberate decision of "leadership" of the APS, link.  They simply will not hear of any such discussion.  You have to wonder, why not?

I have a record of advocating on behalf of a particular model for character education called "Character Counts!.  I advocate on behalf of CC! and the Pillars of Character Counts!, link, for two reasons;
  1. As far as models for character education go, I have not seen a better one. And,
  2. The Pillars of Character Counts! are and have been APS' student standards of conduct since 1994*.
*The APS board unanimously adopted Character Counts! in 1994 and, every year since, has reiterated, by means of the APS Student Behavior Handbook; that they expect students to "model and promote (honest accountability to) the Pillars of Character Counts!

The board has never rescinded their resolution.

They did however, grow uncomfortable with the expectation that because they established and enforced higher standards on students, they, as the senior most executive role models of student standards, were accountable themselves to those same standards.

The proximate result of their discomfort was their decision to remove the role modeling clause* from their own standards of conduct.
*In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
Since the board voted unanimously to strike the role modeling clause from their own standards of conduct, there have been two sets of standards of conduct in the APS;
  1. one for students; the Pillars of Character Counts! and 
  2. a different, much lower standard, for school board members, superintendents and senior administrators; the law*.
*"The law" is the set of standards that all "higher" standards are higher than.  The law represent the lowest standards of conduct acceptable among civilized human beings.
Were the law not low enough standards, the leadership of the APS spends millions of operational* dollars every year on litigation, the most of which is a bunch of legal weaselry intended to allowed board members, superintendents and senior administrators to escape actual and honest accountability even to the law.
*Operational funds are the money that could, should and would be spent in classrooms were they not being spent in courtrooms.  
For example, since November 2012, the leadership of the APS has spent three quarters of a million dollars in operational funds, in litigation in a non-viable defense of former APS school board enforcer Marty Esquivel's ego and, and in an effort to litigate an exception for themselves from the NM Inspection of Public Records Act, in order to hide public records that will expose a cover up of felony criminal misconduct involving a number of senor APS administrators.

In any case, the fact that there are two sets of standards of conduct in the APS; one for students, one for "leadership";
  1. Students are expected to model and promote honest accountability the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct, while
  2. the "leadership" of the APS are manifestly unaccountable even to the law
is morally reprehensible.  It is utterly indefensible.

The best defense of indefensible position is to hide it, which is exactly why the leadership of the APS is stonewalling the question instead of trying to defend their hypocritical expectation of students; that they will hold themselves accountable to higher standards of conduct than adults.

Every generation expects the next generation to be the first generation to hold itself accountable to higher standards of conduct; ethical standards of conduct.  Do as I say, not as I do.

If we really want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor, someone is going to have to show them what they look like.

APS image
Which brings us to APS Supt Luis Valentino and to the test of his mettle.  He is or will be, the senior-most administrative role model of student standards of conduct.

Will he step up to or hide from that obligation?

Ever since the board voted to strike their role modeling clause, I have been attending school board meetings and speaking during the public comment period.  I have repeatedly challenged school board members and superintendents to step up as honest to God role models.
Is there one of you, with the character and the courage to hold yourself honest accountable to the same standards of conduct you have established and enforce upon students?
Their response to the question has run the gamut from ignoring the question completely to trying to ban me from school board meetings for life for asking it over and over again.  They have never responded candidly, forthrightly and honestly to a legitimate question about the public interests and their public service.

Their current position is to pretend that they are prohibited from answering questions during public fora by law, rather than their own lack of character and courage.

One cannot be a role model of accountability except by being accountable; actually, honestly accountable. There is no such thing as an inconspicuous role model; the concept is oxymoronic. 

If Supt Luis Valentino is not willing to stand up and declare his personal accountability to student standards of conduct, he is not willing to be a role model.

If he does not expect the same for himself (and his administration) he forfeits moral high ground and his right to expect students to hold high standards for themselves.

There is no opportunity anywhere in the APS, for open and honest public discussion of ethics, standards and accountability in the APS.

How can people who are too afraid or too corrupt even to talk about the ethics and standards that bind them, or about the (lack of) due process available to hold them accountable to those standards and ethics, be trusted to have either high standards or real accountability?

Under different circumstances, the refusal of the board and their various superintendents to talk openly and honestly about ethics, standards and accountability would draw the attention of "the press".  There would be an investigation and report upon ethics, standards and accountability in the leadership of a school system that spends fully a fifth of the state's entire budget.

Unfortunately, the press; the Journal and the local NMBA affiliates are at best complacent regarding the ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS, and at worst, deliberately complicit in the cover up.

Journal Editor in Chief and
Esquivel crony Kent Walz,
foremost among them.

photo Mark Bralley

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