Testers not teachers in the classrooms

© 2013 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. When talking to people who have never taught in public school, they often have solutions that I know are wrong. Further, they will not believe someone from inside the schools; especially the teachers. Know this: the teachers are for the most part doing what they are told by the administrators to do.
     Many teachers say they are not teachers, just testers. They spend no time teaching, instead, every minute is focused on accountability tests. All the students are learning are test questions, if you can call that learning.
     Even worse is that many teachers wonder why they got a teaching certificate because no one listens to them. Obviously there is no need to address the curriculum at teaching colleges when teachers have no voice.
     What would happen if we started listening to teachers instead of administrators? Administrators are far removed from classrooms. Many went into administration for the pay. They can double their retirement. Teach twenty years and administer five years then retire with pay like they were in administration twenty-five years.
     Most of what I find objectionable is the reform fads. When I started teaching in public school Gerald Ford was the president. The then fad, among others, was quarter-hour lesson plans. For every class period I needed four pieces of paper filled out explaining how I was going to change what was happening in the classroom four times an hour with methods, objectives, materials and measurement routines.
     This requirement was before computers so it was done by hand, my hand. Each week, with a sore writing hand, I handed in a stack of 120 lesson plans which I am sure no one had time to read. The next year I took a job at the University of New Mexico in educational media because my writing hand could not take any more.Read full column

Education leaders propose new funding system

Higher education leaders in New Mexico are proposing a new system for state funding of universities and community colleges. 

The proposal was developed by a team of New Mexico State University administrators. It would have legislators provide colleges and universities with the schools' previous year's allocations but also add incentive funding to reward the schools for performances. 

Measurements for the performance-based funding could include completed student credit hours, total research funding and awarded degrees.

 The proposal has backing from two- and four-year schools across the state. Western New Mexico University Joseph Shepard says the agreement on the proposal is "monumental."


Virgin Galactic pushes back start date

Virgin Galactic has again pushed back its estimated start date for launching commercial flights from New Mexico's Spaceport AmericaAnd spaceport officials say they'll need more state money to make up for lost user fees and visitor revenue at the project. 
The spaceport's director, Christine Anderson, says she plans to ask the Legislature for $7 million to finish paving a road between the facility and Las Cruces because other expenses have eaten into her budget. 
The budget assumed that Virgin's space flights would begin in February 2014, but they're now slated for August. 
The spaceport's visitor center was expected to open at the end of this year, but the center and its theme-park style, space-related experiences is a year behind. 


AG says NM could lose tobacco revenue

Gary King
Attorney General Gary King's office estimates New Mexico could lose from $12 million to $25 million next year from a nationwide settlement with tobacco companies. 
New Mexico is to collect about $39 million in tobacco payments this year and has received nearly $572 million since 1999. 
A legislative panel is to hear from King's office Wednesday about a reduction in revenues because of an arbitration ruling against New Mexico and five others states in September. A three-judge panel concluded the states didn't adequately enforce laws requiring smaller tobacco companies to pay certain fees if they weren't part of the 1998 settlement with major companies. 

New Mexico is using nearly $20 million in tobacco revenue this year for early childhood programs and to shore up a lottery-financed college scholarship program.