Friday, August 31, 2012

APS bond issue election facts hard to come by

APS administrators and board members will put a bond issue before voters sometime next year. It could be as soon as next February as part of the school board member elections.

The lack of certainty over the date, and frankly any other details at all, illuminates the lack of open and honest two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve. This despite the impassioned and repeated claims by board members Kathy Korte and Paula Maes, that questions can find answers in twin towers.

I am in communication, albeit one-sided with APS' Capital Master Plan Director Kizito Wijenje. I have asked of him, a number of legitimate questions in search of essential details regarding the process and timeline;

  • Are there steps the issue must go through, like administrative approval, board approval, filing dates, etc?
  • Has a timeline been created for stepping through the process?
  • Has a date been set for the election, does it coincide with school board member elections?
Wijenje is yet to answer even one of those questions.

Finally, I asked;
Can you at least tell me the date of the election and the dollar amount?
To which, he sends no reply.

APS has a modus operandi; a "method of procedure" for slipping bond issue and mill levy elections by voters. They, APS and the APS Foundation, promote them heavily among likely supporters, like the folks who work at 6400 Uptown Blvd and in schools, and downplay them everywhere else. They are given leverage by depressing voter turnout in what the Alb Tribune once called "stealth" elections.

There is only one reason to hide the truth.

If the leadership of the APS was proud of their spending of tax dollars, proud of how efficiently they spend them, proud of how appropriately they spend them, they would be touting the truth, not hiding it.

They are hiding their spending in the twin towers, their lack of efficiency and their lack of propriety.

They are hiding hardwood paneled office spaces.
They are hiding board member chairs for which, rumor has, they paid more than $800 dollars apiece.

They're hiding the truth.

photo Mark Bralley

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rogers is "sorry"; Williams Stapleton was "sorry"; Martinez is good with it.

Is that alright?

One could argue, whether Governor Susana Martinez forgives and forgets Rep Sheryl Williams-Stapleton's racist remark is Martinez' call; after all, the remark was directed at her.

Republican Party heavy hitter Pat Rogers also enjoys the Governor's forgive and forgetness, though in this case she wasn't the subject of his racist "humor", nor is she the target of his "deep personal animosity" as is CD1 Candidate Rep Janice Arnold-Jones.

Some of the actual targets of Roger's insults are apparently, not so willing to turn the other cheek.

According to Joe Monahan this morning, link,

Progress Now New Mexico will join leaders from Native American, Hispanic and LGBT communities Thursday morning (August 30) at 9:00 am outside of the Modrall law offices located at 500 Fourth Street NW, Albuquerque for a brief press conference before community leaders deliver letters and attempt to meet with firm representatives. The public and media are invited to attend this public event.
What Martinez does in forgiving and in particular "forgetting" this kind of behavior, is to demonstrate that she sees no qualitative difference between people who make racist remarks and say they're "sorry" and those who don't make racist remarks at all.

Ayn Rand offers and asks;
"It is not justice or equal treatment that you grant to men when you abstain equally from praising men’s virtues and from condemning men’s vices.

When your impartial attitude declares, in effect, that neither the good nor the evil may expect anything from you—whom do you betray and whom do you encourage?"
Martinez encourages the likes of Rogers and Williams-Stapleton at the expense of politicians and public servants who struggle successfully to behave within their public service; like ladies and gentlemen. She betrays good men and women is so doing.

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

APS Property theft tops a quarter million

During the year 2011-12, $260,516.03 worth of APS property was lost or stolen, link.

Recently, COSO auditors found, link;

  1. apparent lack of accountability for the protection of district assets
  2. management culture shows varying emphasis on integrity and ethics
  3. District management's approach to allegations of nepotism, cronyism and protection of property needs improvement
  4. it is unclear whether the District has reported to the State Auditor discoveries of cash fraud and property losses, or that they intend to rectify this finding in the future
  5. a perception that management is ineffective or ambivalent about enforcing standards of conduct, and enforces rules inconsistently
  6. the school board is not focused on evaluating the effectiveness of "the tone at the top"
  7. the district does not publish a code of conduct
  8. District assets are not protected from unauthorized access or use
  9. no systematic confirmation that required performance reviews are actually done
  10. there is no stated policy requiring employees to report criminal convictions
  11. credit checks are not done on employees with fiduciary responsibilities who handle cash
  12. there are no formal processes for periodic risk assessment or root cause analysis of recurring issues
  13. formal identification of risks at the activity-level have not been performed
  14. no formalized process for employees to provide recommendations for improvements
  15. suppliers, customers and others are not made aware of District standards and expectations
  16. such standards are not reinforced in routine dealings
  17. improprieties are not reported to appropriate personnel
  18. formal monitoring of internal controls needs improvement
  19. personnel are not periodically required to acknowledge compliance with the code of conduct
  20. the Internal Audit Department is understaffed and therefore consumed with property issues and activity accounts at the expense of systematic issues of risk.
  21. the District does not conduct formal self-assessments of control processes
  22. no evidence of a single process or clearinghouse for tracking issues and corrective actions
School Board Member Kathy Korte, when asked what she intended to do about these findings, indicated she would wait until they come up in discussion before dealing with them.

They, apparently, have not come up in discussion and taxpayers, teachers and students are out another quarter of a million dollars.

photo Mark Bralley

APS Whistleblower complaints up 61%

APS reports that the number of "Ethical Advocate issues" (whistleblower complaints) is up 61%, from 90 issues in the year 2010/11 to 145 issues in the year 2011/12.

Recently, COSO auditors, link, found

  1. the absence of a periodically acknowledged code of conduct
  2. a lack of communication of management responses to conduct/ethical lapses
  3. employee standards of conduct are sparsely worded; ...
  4. no code of conduct is formally acknowledged
  5. management culture shows varying emphasis on integrity and ethics
  6. no formal metric for measuring management responses to problems
  7. District management's approach to allegations of nepotism, cronyism and protection of property needs improvement
  8. a perception that management is ineffective or ambivalent about enforcing standards of conduct, and enforces rules inconsistently
  9. the school board is not focused on evaluating the effectiveness of "the tone at the top"
  10. the district does not publish a code of conduct
  11. no systematic confirmation that required performance reviews are actually done
  12. promotion criteria do not include adherence to behavioral standards
  13. improprieties are not reported to appropriate personnel
  14. no documentation of closure of complaints made to the Service Center or to the Superintendent
  15. no clear metrics showing top management is aware of the volume or nature of complaints
  16. formal monitoring of internal controls needs improvement
  17. personnel are not periodically required to acknowledge compliance with the code of conduct
  18. the District does not conduct formal self-assessments of control processes
School Board Member Kathy Korte, when asked if she was going to do anything about any of these wrote, link, in response;
"When topics relating to the COSO report... arise, then I will address the related COSO recommendation. That's my method."
They haven't arisen apparently, and whistleblower complaints are up 61%.

Not one of them received review and approval by anyone outside the administration of the APS, despite the fact that most of the complaints are probably about administrators, the result of an ongoing denial of due process to whistleblower complaints, driven by the need to keep administrative and executive misconduct secret from the public.

photo Mark Bralley

Will the real Republican Party please stand up?

Over the past two days, link and link, blogger Joe Monahan has painted a picture of two Republican Parties in New Mexico; one of common folks with the usual Republican inclinations, and the other of folks with nothing in common with common people, who are utterly out of touch with the common people (my words not Monahan's) and who carry big sticks in order to have their way; folks like the

"Pat Rogers-Jay McCleskey-Mickey Barnett-Keith Gardner-Darren White ruling faction of the GOP ..."
which, according to Monahan,
"... continues to beat up ABQ GOP congressional candidate Janice Arnold-Jones like a rented mule."
Rep Janice Arnold-Jones is the candidate of people, not of the Party. She has more than enough competence, character and courage to be a great Congresswoman. She does not have the blessings of the Party powerful, from whom, even loyal opposition "cowers".

Her independence has earned for her, "the deep personal animosity" of NM Republican Party heavy hitters like Darren White and Pat Rogers, who sees "the state going hell" because of support for Arnold-Jones.

All of this costs her the (financial) support of the NMRP and Governor Susana Martinez' political machine who would rather see a Democrat win the election, than Janice Arnold-Jones.

Monahan reports; "
Arnold-Jones is not only the subject of ridicule by Rogers and the gang, but they have also appeared to work to deprive her of campaign funds."

Monahan identifies Arnold-Jones as
a moderate with a history of being able to work across the aisle, and "... a persona non grata ... in the take-no-prisoners, die-before-you-compromise Martinez era ..."
Monahan believes;
"She could make a major splash and begin the process of rebuilding the moderate side of the GOP ..."
if only she weren't standing alone.

Will the real Republican Party please stand up? link

photos Mark Bralley

On again, off again, Bullying Prevention Forum, on again

On May 15, 2012, education report Hailey Heinz, reported, link, APS was planning two public meetings on bullying.

Albuquerque Public Schools is planning two community meetings in June so people can comment about how best to confront bullying.
By the middle of June, it was apparent that the meetings had been cancelled without explanation or apology. I don't know by whom, for certain, but it seems reasonable that it was APS' COO Brad Winter who decided to not have the meetings. I asked Heinz to identify the source of the promise of June meetings, she did not respond.

At the time Winter was promising June meetings, I was writing about the impossibility of a meaningful discussion of bullying without first having a candid, forthright and honest discussion about student discipline in general. This based on my belief that, there is a strong correlation between bullying and a general lack of discipline at a school. I pointed out the reason Winter el al cannot discuss student discipline in general, is because their records are inadequate if not non-existent, link, consistent with their efforts manipulate public perception of the APS.

A recent audit by the Council of the Great City Schools found that the administration routinely falsified crime statistics to protect the images of their schools. I will never forget a meeting including then AHS Principal Tom Savage, in which Savage said, if he told the truth about what was going on at AHS, realtors would have his neck.

Winter has again promised meetings, link. Though he faces the prospect of having to present meaningfully on the subject of bullying, without having to admit he is keeping incomplete records on the scope of student discipline and chronically disruptive students (like bullies), or no records at all.

I can't wait to see how he worms his way out of these meetings.

By the way, Winter is still to surrender a candid, forthright and honest accounting of his spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd. link, even in the face of an upcoming school bond issue election where his stewardship of our resources is a fundamental issue.

Either he cannot surrender the record, because his bookkeeping is so abysmal they have to hide it, or because the truth is unjustifiable. They have yet to deny rumors that they spent more than $800 a piece for the chairs board members sit in for about four hours a month during board meetings.

photo Mark Bralley

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Families United for Education will be united in their disillusion

for at least two reasons;

  1. the solution they propose is fundamentally unworkable, and
  2. the school board and administration have no real interest in communicating with anyone, even the Families United for Education
Writing in the Journal, link, for the Families United for Education, Robert A. Heckman;
The Albuquerque Public Schools Board recently passed a groundbreaking family engagement policy that, once implemented, can have a profound effect on truancy rates and community health.
He believes he has established two-way communication with the board and administration.

Open and honest two-way communication between decision makers in the APS and the community members they serve depends upon all party's willingness to be candid, forthright and honest in their communication.

I cannot speak to the candor, forthrightness and honesty in the Families United for Education. I can speak the lack of candor, forthrightness and honesty in APS board members and administrators.

If you can appreciate the sensibility in the advice;
Trust that man in nothing, who lacks conscience in anything. unk
then, it makes little sense to trust that you have established open and honest two-way communication with board members and administrators, who are manifestly unwilling to be open and honest,neither individually or nor collectively, about;
  • their abdication from their responsibilities as role models of APS' student standards of conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts! nor about
  • their denial of due process to hundreds of whistleblower complaints, nor about
  • their cover up of felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators, nor about
  • student discipline and chronically disruptive students, nor about
  • their denial of due process to a legitimate petition for standing for the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication, and their effort to establish open and honest two-way communication between APS decision makers and the community members they serve, nor about
  • their use of a publicly funded private police for stifle citizens' legitimate free exercise of constitutionally protected human rights to assemble and speak in their petition for redress of their several grievances, nor about
  • anything else that manifests their incompetence and corruption. They are spending nearly a million dollars a year on a Communications Department that places a higher priority on APS' apple, than on fully informing stakeholders.

    Submitted as proof of that allegation, the response you will receive when you ask them for a simple candid, forthright and honest accounting of their spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd and even in the face of another bond issue election.
On the issue of fundamental unworkability; even if politicians and public servants in the APS were willing to respond candidly, forthrightly and honestly to legitimate questions about the public interests, the Families are beating a dead horse.

They're still looking for solutions to solve problems en masse, in apparent continuing disregard for students' individual needs and capacities. They want to make cemetery seating work in a world where nobody, ever again after school, will sit in a desk in one of five rows of desks, there to join a thought choir, thinking and learning about exactly the same thing, and exactly the same pace, in order to pass exactly the same test, and taken at exactly the same time.

There is no challenge that faces a group of children, that they each don't face individually. All achievement gaps are individual. There is no good reason to add them together. There is no reason at all, except to design some group approach to solve the problem. This despite the obvious evidence that group education is becoming more obsolete by the day.

Heckman writes;
There are other barriers to education that often go overlooked ...
Overlooked by whom?

If they are overlooked at all, it isn't by anyone who actually works in a school. It is by people who breathe the rarefied air in the twin towers and boardroom. People who hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see.

Interestingly, one of four "elements" of the agreement deals with "expanded communication", a concept which is immediately limited by the phrase "between home and school". What about taxpayers and other interest and stake holders, who don't happen to have a child currently enrolled in a public school?

Heckman and APS boast;
This policy, developed with a group of 400 family and community members and 43 local supporting organizations called Families United for Education, calls for APS to engage our community ...
APS conducted nearly two dozen meetings after the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication Petition was placed in their hands. Not only weren't CACoC members invited to participate; they were not even informed that meetings were taking place.

Heckman believes;
When every school makes local cultures and histories an integral part of instruction, students will be more eager to go to school.
His belief flies in the face of the fact that, communities themselves, both minority and majority, have failed to engage their own children in their history and culture. If children don't care about their history and culture at home and in their neighborhoods, they are not going to care about them at school.

If Heckman gets everything he hopes for, he will have only another class, another discipline that most students don't want to learn, and therefore will not learn. You really cannot make a horse drink water you offer them, unless and until, they want to drink water.

Heckman is spot on, writing;
When school and district personnel build partnerships with parents and other family members based on mutual respect, more families will help students do well in school.

And perhaps most important, when family and community members organize to shape their educational system in ways that are important and meaningful to them, schools and communities get healthier.
He is unfortunately mistaken in his belief that a "new day is dawning in Albuquerque Public Schools" and that it will include "equity, respect and collaboration". There is no action more disrespectful, nor less equitable, nor less collaborative than APS' ongoing refusal to provide a venue where legitimate questions can be asked and where their candid, forthright and honest responses are to be expected.

I wonder if the agreement the APS hammered out with the Families includes competent and impartial facilitation, or will the meetings follow the administrative agenda. School Board Member Kathy Korte makes no bones about her intentions with regard to facilitating open and honest two-way communication, link.

Heckman asks that we join him in welcoming the new day dawning.

There is no new day dawning.

When the question is;
will you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the ethically redacted truth about the wielding of our power and the spending of our resources?
any answer except yes, means no.

Should ever the new day dawn, you will know it.
The School Board and senior administration will point to it;
the time, the day, the place, where they will sit and listen
to legitimate questions about the public interests and about
their public service, and then respond to those questions
candidly, forthrightly, and honestly.

Til then, more darkness and more obfuscation.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Brooks being sued again; Walz on top of it

Kent Walz and the Journal had no choice but to publish information on the most recent lawsuit filed against APS Supt Winston Brooks; this one further alleging his misogyny and bully behavior. They met their obligation this morning, link.

There are two stories here;

  1. the suit against Brooks and
  2. the Journal's coverage of yet another lawsuit that is going to go very badly for taxpayers.
If Walz had had a mind to, he could have minimized Brooks' negative exposure; he could have helped his friend manipulate his public perception.

He could have used miniscule type face for the headline.
He could have hidden the story in a corner, and he could have held the really damning information until four pages later. He could have broken the story on a Friday and by Monday it will be old news; a commonly used and unscrupulous tactic to manipulate and minimize public outrage.

Oh yeah, he did all of those.

In the future, if Walz had a mind; he could investigate and report upon,
all of the lawsuits in which Brooks is, or was,
a named respondent, and upon all the related costs
including cash settlements
It is legitimately newsworthy. His ongoing failure to meet his obligation to fully inform voters, has made it impossible for voters to hold board members accountable for their stewardship over public power and resources in their hiring of a superintendent like Brooks.

Instead, Walz is doing everything he can keep the truth hidden from stakeholders.

He and school board enforcer Marty Esquivel teamed up to give Brooks a Dixon Award for transparency at the same time they were all covering up felony criminal misconduct in the administration of the APS Police force; a publicly funded private police force who bungled the only investigation of their own criminal misconduct.

framegrab Mark Bralley

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

KRQE Esquivel conflicts of interest and propriety

KRQE has a responsibility to investigate and report upon the Albuquerque Public Schools, including potentially, public corruption and incompetence that reaches to the highest level.

School Board enforcer Marty Esquivel is their lawyer.

He is the lawyer supposed to be getting APS to surrender an ethically redacted copy of the Caswell Report on the investigation of felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators. That and the findings of as many two other investigations into corruption and incompetence in the leadership of APS' publicly funded private police force.

One minute Esquivel is wearing his KRQE hat and demanding the surrender of public records as required under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records, and in the next minute spends APS operational funds, money that could be spent in classrooms, to keep them hidden from public knowledge, for no reason except to cover up a cover up of felony criminal misconduct.

If that isn't a conflict of interest, what is?

If that isn't the appearance of impropriety, what is?

All KRQE has to do, in order to exonerate themselves as a news organization, is to explain why a conspiracy to cover up corruption in the leadership of the APS police force, is not newsworthy.

As for 7 and 4, KOAT's Mary Lynn Roper has no intention of investigating credible allegations and evidence of the denial of due process to whistleblowers; an investigation that would lead directly to her good friend, School Board President Paula Maes, who once freely admitted,
she would never agree to any audit that individually identifies corrupt or incompetent administrators or board members.

All Roper has to do, is explain why the denial of due process to hundreds of whistleblower complaints and complainants, link, is not newsworthy.

All I can say about KOB is that I know they know, and they're not doing anything that APS Executive Director of Communications Monica Armenta wouldn't approve of. They could exonerate themselves, by simply investigating and reporting upon even one of a number of credible allegations,

  • APS' refusal to surrender ethically redacted public records of findings of at least three investigations of felony criminal misconduct in the APS Police, and the subsequent failure to surrender evidence to the DA for criminal prosecution.
  • APS refusal to surrender a candid forthright and honest accounting of spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd. This, though they intend to ask voters to pass another bond issue in a few months.
  • There are two standards of conduct in the APS. One represents the lowest standards of conduct acceptable among civilized people, the other, a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of the ethical conduct. The one applies to administrators and board members, the other to students.
  • The board's denial of due process to a petition signed by more than one hundred citizens, the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication, in order obfuscate an effort to establish open and honest two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the Community members they serve.
  • The use of a publicly funded private police force, a Praetorian Guard, to deny citizens the free exercise of their Constitutionally protected human rights to assemble, speak freely and petition their government for redress of grievances, link.
or in the alternative, explain why not one of them is worthy of investigation and report.

As for Kent Walz and the Journal, note that when the APS School Board rewrote school board policy to do away with citizens advisory councils entirely, he chose to not tell citizens.

I don't care what Walz finally writes, he is beyond exoneration.

He cannot report credibly on corruption and incompetence in the leadership of the APS, without first reporting upon his abject failure to do so heretofore, and that will never happen.

photos and Walz frame grab Mark Bralley

Sunday, August 19, 2012

APS administration one of the most perfectly vetted in the world

According to Journal logic, the "newspaper" not Kent Walz and few other actual people, each with a fiduciary obligation to candor, forthrightness and honesty with readers:

Only 60 of the district’s 5,000 teachers have been placed in the PAR program since its inception in 2007, a minuscule 1.2 percent. If the system does indeed work — and it was approved again in this latest union contract — that makes APS teachers one of the most perfectly vetted workforces in the world.
By the same logic: the number of APS administrators who have been fired, divided by their total number, APS has the most perfectly vetted administration in the world.

If you divide the number of tax dollars given to fired administrators to keep their mouths shut, by the number of fired administrators who were paid to keep their mouths shut, you find a perfect system for covering up public corruption and incompetence at the highest levels.

"Fired" APS Police Chief Gil Lovato was given a half a year of salary and no opportunity to open his mouth in court. He and his lawyer Sam Bregman had promised, if the truth ever gets out in court, there won't be a single APS senior administrator left standing.

Well, they're all still standing.

And the "Journal", the "newspaper" not the people,
is still covering their asses.

Unless and until someone else at the Journal wants to take personal responsibility for the "paper's" failure to investigate and report upon the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS

... I blame Kent Walz.

Korte stands alone against bad teachers

To hear the editors tell it, School Board Member Kathy Korte is the only member of the Albuquerque Schools Board of Education "brave" enough to talk about bad teachers.

The premise of the editorial is misguided; that bad teaching is a school board policy issue. Board members really aren't supposed to be involving themselves in anything considered to be day to day.

Dealing with bad teachers is an administrative responsibility, not an executive responsibility.

If Korte wants bad teachers dealt with, she (and the board) need to hire a superintendent who can deal with bad teachers. Instead, she and board have now extended Winston Brooks' contract well beyond even their tenure on the school board, despite his manifest incapacity to deal with bad teachers.

Journal editors, let's say Kent Walz, to put a face to them, write;

Kathy Korte has been willing to step up and draw attention to education’s worst-kept secret.
Kent Walz praises Korte for bringing the discussion back to where it should have been all along, that is, to a focus on "what is best for students".


Let's draw our attention to a few of APS secrets that Korte isn't brave enough to tackle;
  • the ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS manifest in;
    1. the lack of administrative standards and accountability, and
    2. the lack of executive standards and accountability, and
    3. the leadership-wide abdication from the obligations of the senior-most role models of APS student standards of conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!.
  • the corruption in the leadership of their police force
  • the ongoing denial of due process to whistle blower complaints
  • the ongoing failure to address student discipline in general, and chronically disruptive students in particular
  • the ongoing lack of respect for the input of all APS teachers and their nearly 100,000 years of teaching experience, including the lack of respect for even the input of the very best teachers.
Not to mention "her" unlawful restraining order and use of a publicly funded private police force and Praetorian Guard, to keep me from exercising Constitutionally protected human rights to ask these questions face to face, is that what is in the best interests of students?

Korte wants to fire bad teachers for their "lack of communication with parents".

Out of the other side of her mouth, Korte is foursquare in her opposition to a Citizens Advisory Council on Communication. It is she who champions the denial of due process to the CACoC and their efforts to establish open and honest two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve. Is that what's best for students?

Korte is hiding an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS. Is that what's best for students?

Abdicating her personal responsibility to be a role model of actual honest accountability to a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct, is that what's best for students?

Covering up felony criminal misconduct by senior APS administrators, is that's what's best for students?

Covering it all up and misleading stakeholders into believing they're doing what's best for students, is that what's best for students?

You gotta love the abandonment of any personal responsibility for deliberately misleading thousands of stakeholders; the editorial disclaimer; unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

Yeah, like that makes is alright.

I hold Kent Walz personally responsible for the cover up

photos Mark Bralley

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Kent Walz fails his friends in the leadership of the APS

If Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz can offer the community a report on administrative and executive standards and accountability, he should. He would be doing his friends a huge favor.

He could quell in one front page story, all the persistent and diametrically opposite rumors and allegations of a profound lack of standards and accountability that apply to the wielding of our power and the spending of our resources.

If the leadership of the APS has provided for themselves, honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, they deserve to have their courage and character and competence recognized.

Why won't Walz help them out?
Why is he keeping their success a secret?

Why is he keeping interest holders in the dark about how well the spending of their power and resources is being administered?

Isn't it newsworthy?

There are many in the community who think the leadership of the APS is rife with corruption and incompetence. The very best thing in the world Walz could do for his friends on the Board and in the senior administration, would be to assure the community that their standards and accountability are high enough to protect the public interests in the public schools.

Walz is letting his friends down.

Why won't he help them out?
Why won't he sing their praise?

He has time and space to publish school lunch menus, has he no space for a report that completely exonerates his friends from years of allegations of a lack of standards and accountability?

The leadership of the APS will come to us in a few months for support for another bond issue. Walz could guarantee the passage of the bond issue, by simply pointing to the high standards and accountability that will assure taxpayers that their money will be well spent.

Walz could offer a candid, forthright and honest accounting of the spending at 6400 Uptown Blvd. He could assure taxpayers that the leadership of the APS can spend public resources wisely and well.

Why won't he?

Why won't he assure the community that there is not an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS?

What kind of a friend is he?

photos Mark Bralley

"Technical difficulties" prevent streaming of board meeting

Anyone who tried to watch yesterday's school board meeting online, on APS' award winning website, found the following instead;

PLEASE NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, the Wednesday, August 15, 2012 Board Meeting will not be available to watch live. We're working on the problem and will have the archive video posted later this month.
This isn't the first time.

The likelihood of a technical malfunction correlates with the board's discomfort with being seen. The stupider or more shameful their conduct, the more likely it is that the record will be damaged or lost entirely. They've a long and rich history of not getting it right, link.

There are people in the world, who can record meetings on flip phones and have the video posted online in a matter of minutes.

They don't work, apparently, for the APS.

APS bought more than a hundred thousand dollars worth of electronics and then hired two "experts" to run it, and still can't seem to get things up on the internet.

They get away with it because Kent Walz and the Journal won't investigate and report upon credible evidence and allegations of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

photo Mark Bralley

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Publicly funded, private police force stiffling dissent.

A small group of supporters of a Citizens Advisory Council attended the Policy and Instruction Committee Meeting last evening.  The Committee Chair, the coward David Peercy, link, doesn't allow interest holders to open their mouths during meeting he chairs, so the petitioners were carrying posters.

They were met by the Albuquerque Public Schools Police, in cars and afoot; at least five in all.  The APS police, link, are a publicly funded, private police force that reports directly to, and only to the leadership of the APS.  As a police force, they are unaccredited, un-certified and un-certificated by anyone except the leadership of the APS.

Though they are not supposed to take orders from board members, they routinely do.  Their efforts to harass me and other petitioners flow from an unlawful restraining order created by an individual board member acting without school board authority, link.

The group was met outside the building and told they would not be allowed to enter with posters.  When they asked for some proof that there actually is a rule or regulation that prohibits citizens from exercising their right to carry posters as a matter of free speach, they were offered a Procedural Directive, link, entitled;  Distributing or Posting Promotional Literature: Fundraising, Campaign and Other Material.

Nowhere in the directive does it say, petitioners cannot carry posters onto APS property or into board meetings.

It is a naked abuse of power.

School Board enforcer Marty Esquivel and Chief of Police Steve Tellez own it.

Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz and the establishment media enable it.

photo Mark Bralley

Character education in the APS

Two questions;

  1. what is character education, 
  2. should there be any in the APS?
What is it?  Wikipedia, link, offers an acceptable definition;  
Character education is an umbrella term loosely used to describe the teaching of children in a manner that will help them develop variously as moral, civic, good, mannered, behaved, non-bullying, healthy, critical, successful, traditional, compliant and/ or socially acceptable beings.
Should there be any in the APS?

Forget for the moment, it is specifically and explicitly required in APS School Board Policy, link,

I offer as a premise; aside from disagreement over the best model to follow, there is widespread support in the community, and as widespread a belief that character education is actually part of education in public schools.  Therefore, there should be some in the APS.

In fact, there is.  A few schools here and there, make a concerted effort to teach children in a manner that will help them develop variously as moral, civic, good, mannered, behaved, non-bullying, healthy, critical, successful, traditional, compliant and/ or socially acceptable beings.

But, there is no district wide effort. None. Zero. Nada, Zip.

In blatant disregard for School Board Policy.

Why, you're wondering, no character education?

It is because there is no model for teaching character education that does not rest on accountability.  It is the bedrock character.  Character is all about holding yourself honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence.  Accountable under a system over which you have no undue influence and powerful enough to hold you accountable, even against your will.

The leadership of the APS cannot advocate for character because they are unwilling to be role models of accountability.

If there were accountability, the could point to it.  They would point to it.  The truth is; they provide no venue where a complaint can be filed against them, and where that complaint will see due process.  They are absolutely unaccountable to anyone except each other.

Why, you're wondering, does no one know about any of this?

Journal Editor Kent Walz would love to run  a story about how APS is a model of transparent accountability to stakeholders.  He would love to run a story about their courage as role models for staff and students.

He hasn't run a story like that because he can't.  He can't because he's part of a conspiracy to cover up the lack of administrative and executive standards and accountability.  He's part of the cover up of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

His best effort so far, to join APS School Board enforcer Marty Esquivel in bamboozling the Directors of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government into giving APS Supt Winston Brooks a hero of transparency award for hiding public records of felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of their Praetorian Guard.

Walz has been asked, over and over again, to investigate and report upon the abandonment of character education in the APS, and he won't.  90,000 of this community's sons and daughters are being denied any meaningful character education because of corruption in the leadership of the APS, and he chooses rather than exposing it, to join instead, the conspiracy to keep it all secret from their parents.

Walz singing Winston Brooks virtues in front of the FOG
Journalistic malpractice, corruption, cowardice?

framegrab Mark Bralley

Walz gives Korte 46 inches, and a headline

In the Journal this morning, link, an op-ed by the Journal's darling on the APS School Board, Kathy Korte.

Korte would like to blame APS' failure to educate half its students on bad teachers.

For the sake of argument, let's say the failure really can be blamed on a relative few bad teachers and no way to hold them accountable.

Korte and Walz would have readers believe that the current version of the Negotiated Agreement between teachers and the APS, makes it hard to fire bad teachers.

I've been hearing that for a third of a century.  The contract does not protect bad teachers,except from corrupt administrators who might want to fire them out of spite instead of for cause.   A recent audit found a "culture of fear of retribution and retaliation" against whistle-blowers and complainants.

Were it not for the contract, some bad teachers might have been fired sooner, but a lot of good teachers would have fallen victim to retaliation and retribution by administrators.

Walz could investigate and report upon that culture of fear of retaliation; does it still exist?  But he won't.

Just like he won't investigate and report upon the cover up of felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators.

Or upon the lack of due process for complaints filed against administrators and board members.

Walz could report that the leadership of the APS has rewritten school board policy to eliminate any accountability as role models of the student standards of conduct.  He could tell stakeholders that the entire leadership of the APS has abdicated as role models of standards of conduct that require actual and honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence.  But he won't.

Walz could report that Korte and her kronies are going to vote tonight, to rewrite school board policy in order to eliminate citizen advisory councils, in particular the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication.

But he won't.

Korte is a hypocrite.  It's time for her to put up or shut up.

Accountability starts at the top of an oligarchy, not at the bottom.  Unless of course the top of the oligarchy is trying shift the blame, in which case, the accountability begins at the bottom.

Either she points to the place where a complaint filed against her will see due process, or she stops whining about subordinates' lack of accountability.

Good leaders accept personal accountability,
great leaders demand it.  Character is taught by example.
Character is taught only by personal example.

If we expect students to hold themselves honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, if we want them to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor, somebody has to show them what it looks like.

Somebody like School Board President Paula Maes, who said she would "never agree to any audit that individually identifies" corrupt or incompetent administrators.

Somebody like School Board enforcer Marty Esquivel, who, along with their corrupt Chief of Police Steve Tellez, is enforcing an utterly unlawful restraining order to keep me from pointing to his corruption during public forums.

Somebody like Supt Winston Brooks, who along with his corrupt Chief of Police Steve Tellez, is hiding public records of felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators.

Somebody like School Board Member Lorenzo Garcia who admitted to the need to have hard conversations, and then voted last night to do away with citizen advisory councils where those conversations might take place.

Somebody like School Board Secretary Kathy Korte.

photos Mark Bralley

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

APS' Sagger Solution

I am told that the leadership of the APS has come up with a solution to avoid having to enforce an Administrative Procedural Directive, link, that prohibits sagging.

At, at least one middle school, the rule about having shirts tucked in has been suspended.  If you can't see their belt line, you can't see they're sagging.

So who won the sagger wars;
the Superintendent who prohibited
students from sagging, or
the students who pulled their
shirts out to cover their sagging,
and got away with it?

If Supt Winston Brooks had taken any advice from anyone on this issue; he would have been told this was going to happen.

This isn't about sagging.

There's a reason why Winston Brooks won't talk about student discipline.

It is about the permission of prohibited behavior.  It is about teaching kids they don't have to obey rules.

photo Mark Bralley

Monday, August 13, 2012

Testing the media's mettle

The following was sent to the Journal, KRQE, KOAT, and KOB.
My expectation is that Journal Editor Kent Walz will decide to ignore it, as will the managers at KRQE, KOAT and KOB.

The APS School Board intends to vote to change school board policy during their Policy and Instruction Committee meeting.

They intend to strike the language that provides for Citizen Advisory Committees. The Current language reads in significant part;
K.01 Community Involvement
"The Board of Education recognizes that constructive study, discussion, and active participation by citizens is necessary to promote the best program of education in the community. To encourage this participation ... Citizens Advisory Councils will exist to provide for greater community involvement in the educational planning process. ..."
The language will be struck in its entirety.

There is no public forum, no citizen input will be allowed.

It will be passed en masse with “consent items” the following evening during the regular board meeting. The agenda is not available, and will not be available until the last minute allowed under the Open Meetings Act.

The change will allow the leadership of the APS to ignore any citizen group they don’t create themselves. They will never create one that examines student discipline, administrative and executive standards and accountability, due process for whistle-blower complaints, or the cover up of felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of the their publicly funded, private police force.

The change will allow them to ignore the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication, whose petition carrying more than 100 signatures is yet to see due process from the board.

I have a Constitutionally protected human right to petition my government for redress of my grievance; their ongoing denial of a legitimate petition carrying more than 100 signatures. I am denied my free exercise of that right, the right to speak freely, and the right to assemble freely, by the APS Police force, an unaccredited, un-certified, and un-certificated publicly funded, private police force, reporting directly to, and only to the leadership of the APS. The MOU with the Bernalillo County Sheriff certifies its officers, not the police force itself. Legally, it is not a Police Department.

They are enforcing an unlawful restraining order written by then School Board President Marty Esquivel,

This though school board policy specifically and explicitly prohibits board members from acting individually.

That he acted individually in writing what he calls a “banning letter” is proven by the lack of any agenda or minutes reporting that the board discussed and acted upon the letter in compliance with the Open Meetings Act.

In the letter, Esquivel mentions my behavior on Nov 4, 2009. You can view that behavior and my arrest on APS website.
I speak and am arrested (deprived of my liberty) between 42:00 and 43:50.

You will see that my arrest was based on the content of my speech, and not on any unlawful conduct; a violation of my Constitutional rights to speak freely and to petition my government at a public forum.

There is a recording of the Audit Committee Meeting mentioned in the letter. If you care to listen to it, you will find I was arrested and ejected based on someone else's alleged misconduct, and not on anything I done myself.

I have repeatedly accused your management of being complicit or complacent in the cover of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS. I will continue to make the allegations in the absence of any effort to investigate and report upon credible allegations and evidence of a cover up of the ethics and accountability scandal including the cover up of felony criminal misconduct by APS senior administrators, including but not limited to; moving cash from evidence to petty cash and spending it without record keeping, and a least a half dozen illegal criminal background checks done on whistle-blowers and a Deputy Superintendents fiancée.

Time to pick a side.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Auditgate lands in Martinez' lap

Blogger Joe Monahan published an email this morning, link, that built a pretty good case for holding Governor Susana Martinez accountable for the fraudulent New Mexico Finance Authority audit.

The email came to Monahan from a "Senior Gator" and read;

The buck stops at the Governor's office. No matter how much finger pointing is going on, the NMFA is controlled by Martinez appointees. The Board includes four members of her cabinet, some of whom attended very few meetings. Furthermore, she changed almost all the other members so that 8 out of 11 NMFA board members are her appointees. The Board failed badly in its fiduciary responsibilities. The President of the NMFA, Richard May, is her designate as well.
S/he makes a compelling argument.

Will accountability in the scandal ever actually reach the Governor?  Not likely, which is why New Mexico state government is riddled with incompetence and corruption.  It is only the underlings whose heads ever roll; never the people who were supposed to watching them closely enough to prevent scandals before they happen.

Governor Susana Martinez will not be held accountable for appointing a whole bunch of people to a job they were unable or unwilling to perform.

Shit, does not roll uphill.

photos Mark Bralley

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

APS students sagging; so what?

For as long as there have been fun seeking children and fun spoiling adults, adults have been setting rules and children have been breaking them. It is to be expected.

There are different kinds of disobedience; deliberate and inadvertent. Inadvertent disobedience isn't the problem. A kid forgetting gum is not allowed, will get rid of the gum when they are reminded of the rule. The real problem is children, students, who deliberately break the rules.

We are no longer talking about chewing gum.

We are talking about bringing and using drugs and weapons at school. We are talking about intimidation and bullying. We are talking about chronically disruptive students who destroy educationally efficient environments.

There are two kinds of deliberate disobedience; sneaky and brazen. Sneaky disobedience implies some respect for the rules, those who enforce them, or at least some fear of the consequences for getting caught breaking them. Brazen disobedience is a kid standing in your face, telling you, you can't tell them what to do, even at school.

Sagging is brazen disobedience; deliberate, in your face defiance. Anyone who thinks you can find success in a school where students are allowed to defy the authority of adults is wrong.

I never once had to stop teaching because a kid was sagging. Those times when I did have to stop teaching to deal with a discipline issue, it was a kid who didn't think s/he had to follow rules or submit in any other way, to the authority of adults. It was their attitude more than their misconduct.

This will end one of two ways; saggers will or will not comply with Brooks' edict. Brooks will either provide certainty in likelihood meaningful consequences for defiant saggers, consequences that will actually end their willful disobedience, or he will fold in the face of their relentless resistance.

When APS Winston Brooks decided to pick another fight with saggers, he picked a fight he hasn't the stomach to win.

Ask any teacher, ask any adult who works with students, when has the senior administration in APS, ever provided certain and substantial consequences for deliberately disobedient students? Brooks himself, counts student insubordination and defiance of authority as one of the least consequential of student misconduct; a level one (of three) offense.

The issue is not kids breaking rules, it is the permission of prohibited behavior; making rules and then not enforcing them. The issue is of schools getting further out of control instead of less.

There's a reason the leadership of the APS doesn't keep, falsifies, or hides data on student discipline and its effect on individual and collective student learning and performance, link.

There's a reason Kent Walz and the Journal won't investigate and report upon student discipline in the APS.

photo Mark Bralley

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Does APS Board back the new sagger policy; do they even know about it?

My cursory research into the creation of a Procedural Directive, link, prohibiting "sagging" indicates the new administrative ban on sagging may come as as big a surprise to APS School Board Members as it will to saggers showing up at school on Monday with their butts hanging out.

Yeah, we're sagging.  So whadya gonna do about it?
I went looking for some evidence that the board actually understood what they were agreeing to when they approved the procedural directive banning sagging, and found none.

The Board is charged with policy making, not procedural directive approval, so the opportunity to provide "feedback" on an administrative initiative doesn't carry legal weight. Still, there is no indication I could find, that they even discussed the actual sagging issue.  It looks as though then Board Member Robert Lucero motioned (sic) for approval of a bunch of consent items and the board went along.

If we had a newspaper that would investigate and report upon student discipline issues, they could interview board members for their individual reactions to reopening hostilities between saggers and adults on campus.  If only ...

I suspect the reactions will be quite different when saggers and school board members find out about the prohibition.

Saggers will be greatly annoyed, insisting they have a right to dress however they want, and further insisting "they can't throw us all out!"  They will push back, without consequence, until the adults stuck with enforcing the ban, give up.

Board members reactions will fall into two groups based on their experience with the first and unsuccessful attempt to prohibit sagging, circa late 80's early 90's.  The new members, those who
didn't go through the first experience may think APS Supt Winston Brooks has a great new idea to regain control over students at school.  The more experienced members will remember how badly the first attempt failed and will be perplexed that it will be tried again under nearly identical circumstances; no buy in from anyone except administrators who will expect teachers to do all the heavy lifting in enforcing the ban.

APS throws down gauntlet on "sagging"

The leadership of the APS has sent a letter out to new parents, advising them of important issues related to school readiness.  On the subject of how to dress, they offer a link to a Procedural Directive that prohibits "sagging".

"Prohibited clothing and accessories include, but are not limited to:
'Sagging', or the wearing of pants below the waist and/or in a manner that allows underwear or bare skin to show, and "bagging", or the wearing of excessively baggy pants with low hanging crotches."
What was reported by KRQE, link, as a aberration at three high schools, apparently will apply to all schools.

According to the same directive (here quoted in significant part, emphasis added);
"... Principals may customize their individual school dress codes ... through use of a process which ensures input from students, parents, faculty and staff of the school and other interested community members. Students and their parents/legal guardians shall be aware of the individual school dress code and shall conform to those requirements. Principals shall interpret and enforce the dress code of his/her school. Individual school dress codes shall be reviewed periodically with parents, teachers, and student group representatives to enlist their support and encourage pride and good taste".
It would appear that if individual schools want to address their dress codes, they can, as long as they endeavor to involve the community in the decision making process.

In contrast, it would appear if Supt Winston Brooks gets a wild hair up his ass and decides to draft teachers into a war they had no part in starting and wouldn't if they could, there is no need to involve anybody in the decision.

Brooks is seen here at a community meeting at Manzano High School just before ordering the arrest of petitioners, link, looking for stakeholder input in decision making that affects their interests.

If the decision making that will start the sagger wars again, included the teachers and staff members who will be expected to do the wet work of enforcing an unpopular dress code, I doubt they would have adopted this issue as a hill they're willing to die on.

In particular, any teachers who were around the last time the district decided to draft teachers into their war on sagging, and who remember how utterly unsuccessful that effort was (students are still sagging after all) they would be less inclined to try the same thing all over again.

The circumstances have not changed; teachers and staff will be expected to enforce the ban on sagging without administrative backing.  They will take kids to the Office where they will sign a "contract" or some equally feckless stupidity, and will finish their paperwork before the teacher finishes theirs.

There are nearly 100,000 years of current and ongoing teaching experience in this district, and no seat anywhere at a table where decisions as far reaching and with such impact as these are made.

School starts Monday August 13th.  By Tuesday, the war against saggers will have begun in earnest, and by Wednesday, it will be apparent who is going to win, again.

photo Mark Bralley

Arnold-Jones has been warning anyone who would listen, about quasi-governmentals for long time.

Journal editors, link, have grown concerned about quasi-governmental agencies.  Quasi-governmental agencies are "quasi" because they are government without government oversight.  Not that government oversight is any great shakes, but it's better than no oversight at all.

Rep Janice Arnold-Jones at Conspiracy Brews
Those who attend Conspiracy Brews, have heard Rep Janice Arnold-Jones' expressed concerns about quasi-governmental agencies for years.  It's not just the lack of transparent accountability in the spending of our resources that Arnold-Jones has brought to the attention of the political discussion group she began many years ago; she and the group have discussed our lack of oversight over the spending of our power as well.  The regulatory authority quasi-governmental agencies exercise comes to them largely unaccountable to those whom they regulate.

photo Mark Bralley