On September 6, standing in front of the Albuquerque Public Schools Building in Uptown Albuquerque, instead of a TV green screen, Republican Candidate for Governor Mark boldly announced his 8-point education plan to get New Mexico’s education system “back on track.” Ronchetti released his plan just days after the New Mexico Department of Education released dismissal academic proficiency rates with standardized test results showing only about a quarter to a third of students met the proficiency standards
In a nutshell, Mark Ronchetti wants to have major influence on how and what is it taught in the public schools, give parents more say so on education curriculums and how their children are taught, redistribute state funding and issue $4,500 in vouchers he calls “stipends” to help parents pay for education. Ronchetti wants to limit growth in school administration spending and increase instructional time for students and dictate that COVID-19 relief funds are spent on classroom programs not capital improvements. Simply put, Ronchetti’s Education Plan is one driven by conservative Republican ideology.
The link to review the unedited Ronchetti Education Plan is here:
RONCHETTI’S 8 POINT EDUCATION PLAN
This blog article is a detailed analysis of Republican Mark Ronchetti’s 8-point Education Plan deleting his political rhetoric from the plan. Following is a break down and analysis of each of the 8 points:
- MAKE UP FOR LOST TIME
Ronchetti faults Governor Lujan Grisham for issuing emergency health care orders shutting down the state’s public school system because of the corona virus pandemic. He proclaims closure of the schools resulted in students losing 406 million in-class hours of instruction that cannot be made up and that academic growth suffered. To solve the lost time instruction deficiency, Ronchetti proposes the following:
- Provide every low-income child’s family in the first through third grades a $1,500 education “stipend” for 3 consecutive years to purchase outside-of-the-classroom academic support for their child. The projected cost of the program is $100 million.
- Require school districts to spend their COVID-relief funds on classroom learning interventions, directed at helping those who have fallen furthest behind.
- Launch school-based summer academies, short academic programs designed to help struggling students master the basics and get back on grade level over the summer.
- Increase meaningful and strategic instructional time throughout the school year with a school by-school commitment to getting kids more time in the classroom.
DINELLI ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
Ronchetti faults Governor Lujan Grisham for issuing emergency health care orders shutting down the state’s public school system because of the corona virus. He does not disclose what he would have done. It’s likely he would have done absolutely nothing and allowed the public schools to remain open and become incubators for the virus risking the health of all school children and their families.
Use of the term “stipend” for the proposal to give $1,500 for 3 consecutive years is a pathetic attempt by Ronchetti to avoid the term “vouchers” for education. There is no requirement that the stipends advanced must actually be used for education. Vouchers for private schools has been a long-held ploy of Republicans to undercut funding of public-school systems.
The manner and method covid relief funds are spent, school-based summer academies and “strategic instructional” proposed are a repetition of policies already in place or in the process of being implemented by the Public Education Department (PED) or elected school boards. The New Mexico legislature has further allocated funding to add additional days of schooling to make up for lost classroom time.
- PUT MORE EDUCATION DOLLARS IN THE CLASSROOM
Ronchetti proclaims general and central school office administration has increased by 55%, while instructional and student support spending grew by 20%. According to Ronchetti, nearly 70% of school districts have grown their central office administrative spending faster than their classroom spending. Ronchetti wants to limit the growth of administrative spending in education, directing the lion’s share of new education dollars into classrooms including additional instructional coaches, teacher leaders, academic resources, and interventions for struggling students. Additional dollars would also be targeted to retain and recruit new teachers to help bring down class sizes to improve the teacher-to-student ratio.
DINELLI ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
Democrat State Senator and Majority Leader Mimi Stewart responded to Ronchetti’s plan to put more education dollars in the classroom and not school administration by saying public education administration spending in schools simply “is not a problem.” Legislation already requires the Public Education Department (PED) to monitor school and district budgets to ensure funding goes to the functions most likely to improve student outcomes.
Ronchetti’s Education Plan is painfully inadequate to the point of being embarrassingly useless at best. What is pathetic is that Mark Ronchetti suffers from “political amnesia” when he does not even mention in his Public Education Plan the mandates of the landmark case of Yazzie v. State of New Mexico and Martinez that requires state funding.
Republican Mark Ronchetti is pathetic as he desperately tries to hold Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham somehow responsible for the failures of our public education system when says:
“It’s time to abandon the failed policies of Lujan Grisham and [legislators.] … We have failed the kids of this state and this system year, after year, after year.”
It was Governor Lujan Grisham’s predecessor former Republican Governor “She Who Shall Not Be Named” who failed for a full 8 years “year, and year after year” New Mexico’s kids by destroying the state’s public education system.
Roncheti and the Republican party should be absolutely ashamed of the damage done by the former Republican Governor to New Mexico’s public education system. The former Republican Governor with her public education policies and her Secretary of Public Education appointments, especially the appointment of Secretary Hanna Skandera, contributed and resulted in the state’s failing education system.
YAZZIE V. STATE OF NEW MEXICO AND MARTINEZ REVISITED
On Friday, July 20, 2018, Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled in the case that the state of New Mexico violated the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with an education. The Court ruling centered on the guaranteed right under the New Mexico Constitution to provide a sufficient education for all children. The lawsuit alleged a severe lack of state funding, resources and services to help students, particularly children from low-income families, students of color, including Native Americans, English-language learners and students with disabilities. The Court found that the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) under Republican Governor Suzann Martinez did not do the best it could with the funding it was given by the legislature to the education system.
BLISTERING COURT RULING
State District Judge Sarah Singleton pulled no punches with her decision. The Judge found that it was clear that many New Mexico students were not receiving the basic education in reading, writing and math they should be receiving in our public-school system. As a matter of law, Judge Singleton wrote the “lack of funds is not a defense to providing constitutional rights.”
Judge Singleton wrote:
“[The evidence presented at trial] proves that the vast majority of New Mexico’s at-risk children finish each school year without the basic literacy and math skills needed to pursue post-secondary education or a career. … Indeed, overall New Mexico children rank at the very bottom in the country for educational achievement. … The at-risk students are still not attaining proficiency at the rate of non-at-risk students … and the programs being lauded by [the Public Education Department] are not changing this picture.”
According to the judge’s ruling, in New Mexico at the time, 71.6% of the state’s public-school students come from low-income families, and 14.4% are English-language learners. Further, 14.8% of students have disabilities, and 10.6% are Native American. Judge Singleton addressing proficiency rates for Native American students said that in the previous 3 years, those students’ reading proficiency was at 17.6% and their math proficiency was at 10.4%.
The Court also found that New Mexico does not have enough teachers and that New Mexico teachers are among the lowest paid in the country and stated:
“The evidence shows that school districts do not have the funds to pay for all the teachers they need. … [An example is] Gadsden, one of the better performing school districts in the state, has had to eliminate over 53 classroom positions and 15 essential teachers since 2008.”
Judge Singleton ruling addressed the state teacher evaluation system implemented by the Governor Martinez Administration by saying:
“[The teacher evaluation system] may be contributing to the lower quality of teachers in high-need schools. … In general, punitive teacher evaluation systems that penalize teachers for working in high-need schools contribute to problems in this category of schools.”
The Court wrote that she was not persuaded by the Martinez Administration’s arguments that no new funding is needed because at-risk student performances are improving.
A spokeswoman for the state Public Education Department at the time announced that the State decided to appeal the ruling. However, soon after assuming office on January 1, 2018, Governor Lujan Grisham decided the state would not appeal the case, work at increasing funding for public education and changes to the system.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, provided the following statement after the court ruling:
“For too long, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and her administration have abandoned their responsibility to kids and public schools. This ruling confirms what parents and educators know—that New Mexico children are deprived of the essential resources, including qualified teachers and support staff, they need. This deprivation is especially severe for those at risk and in need of additional supports—English language learners, Native American students and those in poverty. The ruling also calls out the governor’s obsession with testing over teaching. … We call on the state to use this ruling as a long-overdue opportunity to overhaul its broken school funding system to ensure all New Mexico children are afforded the public education they deserve and are entitled to.”
Linls to news sources are here:
LUJAN GRISHAM MAKES EDUCATION FUNDING PRIORITY
In response to the Yazzie v. State of New Mexico landmark education decision, Govern Lujan Grisham undertook to fully fund the state’s efforts to reform the State’s public education system and she was highly successful. She succeeded in securing millions for public education during the 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions and her success is worth remembering.
2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
During the 2019 Legislative session, Governor Lujan Grisham made good on her commitment to improve New Mexico’s public education system. The 2019 legislature enacted dramatic increases in public education funding, created the Early Childhood Department, issued mandates to the Children, Youth and Families and Public Education departments, not to mention raises for educators and increasing CYFD social workers by 125. These were clearly the biggest accomplishments of the 2019 Legislative session.
The total approved education budget was a whopping $3.2 Billion, 16% over the previous year’s budget, out of the total budget of $7 Billion. Included in the budget was a $500 million in additional funding for K-12 education and increases in teacher pay. Early childhood programs were given a major increase in funding. Under the enacted 2019-2020 budget, every public-school district was allocated significantly more funding.
Teachers did not have any raises to speak of for 8 years under the previous Republican Administration. Teachers and school administrators were given 6% pay raises with more money to hire teachers.
The creation of an “Early Childhood Department” was a major priority of the Governor Lujan Grisham it was funded and began full operation in June 2020.The new department will focus state resources on children from birth to 5 years of age. A major goal of the new department, coupled with other investments, is more New Mexico children growing up to secure gainful employment as adults who don’t require government services.
2020 LEGISLTIVE SESSION
In 2020, the New Mexico legislature adjourned their 30-day session after approval of a $7.6 billion spending plan. The enacted budget increased spending by 7.6% over current levels. The new budget included $17 million for the new college scholarship program sought by Lujan Grisham. The goal was to provide need-based tuition aid for full-time students who already qualify for a separate assistance. An Early Childhood Trust Fund of $320 million was approved that supporters hope will put $30 million annually toward the cause.
2021 LEGISLTIVE SESSION
During the 2021 legislative session, the New Mexico legislature enacted a $7.4 billion state budget which Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law. State government spending increased by 4.8%, or $373 million. Upwards of half of the $7.5 Billon dollar budget went go to public education. $110 million was allocated to extend the school year by ten days with an additional $120 million for kindergarten to fifth-grade programs to add 25 extra school days to make up for lost learning time. Part of the budget will be used to increase the governor’s Opportunity Scholarships to $18 million which helps provide funding for tuition at two-year universities, An additional $35 million will head towards addressing the needs of Native student’s education.
2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
During the 2022 New Mexico legislative session, annual spending for public education increased dramatically. Annual spending on K-12 grade public education was increased by $425 million to $3.87 billion, a 12% boost. Starting July 1, the base pay for teachers rose to $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000 depending on the level of a teacher. According to a fiscal impact report, New Mexico’s average teacher salary was just under $55,000 a year. That’s lower than Colorado, Texas and Utah, but higher than Arizona and Oklahoma. Legislators also approved a measure to allow Indigenous language teachers to be paid at the same rate as their peers, even if they don’t have an undergraduate degree. For Native American language teachers paid as teaching assistants in many districts, their salaries could triple
During the 2022 New Mexico legislative session, 3 bills supported by Governor Lujan Grisham and sponsored by Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo passed that were in response to the historic 2018 Yazzie/Martinez court ruling. House bills 87, 88 and 90 allocated more than $70 million to tribal entities to help offer culturally relevant lesson plans and access to virtual and after-school programs for those students.
The money will be used to create culturally relevant learning programs, including Native language programs, for students in the K-12 system.
extend learning opportunities and support tribal school libraries and allocate $29.6 million to four state colleges and three tribal colleges for 53 initiatives, such as building a Native American teacher pipeline and expanding high school-to-college programs to encourage those students to attend college.
- PROTECT PARENTS’ RIGHTS TO ENGAGE IN THEIR CHILD’S EDUCATION
Ronchetti proclaims he wants to enact laws to make it clear that parents have rights on how their children are taught. He wants parents to have the following rights:
- Parents should have access to course materials, curriculum, and books and know and have a say on what their children are being taught and learning. Ronchetti argues there is a reasonable expectation that students will be taught the basics at school “not be subjected to political agendas”.
- Understand at all times where their children stand academically and how schools are performing. “Parents should know—at various points throughout the school year—whether their child is learning at grade level, and if not, what options and interventions are available to get them back on track.”
- Annual testing should be made available in a timely way so that parents, teachers, and schools can make summer-time decisions about interventions to keep kids progressing at grade level.
- Know how education funding is being spent, all the way down to the school level. Ronchetti says There is no investment more worthwhile than education and it accounts for 45% of the state budget. Parents must be able to easily determine whether the nearly $4 billion our state spends on public education is getting into classrooms and to kids who need the most help.
- Parents should be able to send their children to the public school that best meets their needs and have more public-school options to choose from and be empowered to select the public school that best fits the interests, needs, and abilities of their child, whether that’s a traditional, magnet, or charter school.
“When we find public schools that are getting great results for the kids they serve, we should allow them to serve more students and encourage their learning models to be shared and implemented in other parts of the education system.”
DINELLI ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
It is a major red flag that Ronchetti intends to exert influence over what is taught in the state’s public schools when he says “There is a reasonable expectation that students will be taught the basics at school, not be subjected to political agendas”. If this sounds at all too familiar, it’s because it is very much like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who came to New Mexico to endorse Ronchetti.
Ronchetti proclaims he wants to enact laws to make it clear that parents have rights on how their children are taught. What Ronchetti is advocating for without coming out and saying it is a “Parental Bill of Rights in Education” bill. It was on March 22 that De Santis signed the controversial “Parental Rights in Education” where public school teachers in Florida are banned from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill is called by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The truth is elected local school boards play the most critical role in ensuring parental rights and provide remedies to address grievances. Many, if not all the “parental rights” Mark Ronchetti wants to guarantee to parents already exist, either by existing state law or school board policies. Parents can decide to send their children to public schools, charter schools, private schools or for that manner do home schooling.
A Governor Mark Ronchetti no doubt will take issue with “critical race” theory, evolution being taught in schools and will want school prayer. It’s now painfully obvious that Governor Rochetti will want to be involved not only with what is taught in New Mexico classrooms but also what goes on in the privacy of a Doctor’s offices with their woman patients and their reproductive rights given his position when it comes to abortion and a woman’s right to choose.
When Ronchetti says “Parents should know—at various points throughout the school year—whether their child is learning at grade level, and if not, what options and interventions are available to get them back on track” he ostensibly does not know that “parent teacher” conferences are a staple for younger students. When it comes to mid school and high school students, parents always have the option to ask for conferences with school assigned counselors. As far as parents “understanding at all times where their children stand academically” that is the purpose and function of quarterly report cards of students.
- BETTER PREPARE OUR STUDENTS FOR THE WORKFORCE
“Some students will choose college after graduating high school while others will enter the workforce. For students who will enter careers after high school, we can do a much better job ensuring they have the tools to be successful.” Ronchetti’s plan is to include helping students earn work certifications while still in high school, so they can be as employable as possible, as quickly as possible. Students who complete their high school course requirements by the end of the 11th grade would receive a scholarship to spend their entire senior year in an apprenticeship, internship, or career-focused postsecondary education.
The Ronchetti education plan would expand trade and vocational schools, and better align our high school and community college course offerings with the workforce shortage areas and industry growth target areas in New Mexico. Ronchetti wants to allow those who are not traditional licensed teachers such as electricians, nurses, computer programmers, entrepreneurs, and others who have knowledge to share to teach in middle and high school classrooms. This would help alleviate teacher recruitment challenges. New Mexico’s education system should make it easier for students to “learn outside of a classroom’s walls—on job-sites, in hospitals, and “in the field” instead.”
DINELLI ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
Ronchetti’s plan is to include helping students earn work certifications while still in high school. It’s a plan that already exists in many school systems in the state. CNM community college is already known for course offerings within workforce shortage areas and industry growth target areas in New Mexico. Examples include the nursing program, the film industry and law enforcement certifications. Ronchetti’s plan to allow those who are not traditional licensed teachers such as electricians, nurses, computer programmers, entrepreneurs to teach will require a major overhaul of state public education licensing laws.
- IMPROVE THE SYSTEM SCHOOL-BY-SCHOOL, FOCUS ON DEVELOPING GREAT LEADERS
The public schools are failing to educate because of lack of leadership. Great school leaders can turn around poor-performing schools, by elevating expectations, improving hiring practices, building a “can do” culture, better developing and supporting teachers, and implementing best practices designed to understand each child’s academic needs and help them grow. Under the Rochetti education plan:
- A. Chronically low-performing schools would undergo leadership changes.
- The State’s very best principals would earn six-figure salaries and be given more autonomy in how they lead their school.
- Schools led by great principals would take on assistant principals who would train for a year or two under their leadership, then be deployed to lead schools of their own.
- Successful school leaders would be paired with principals in need of help, and they would engage in an active mentoring relationship.
- The highest-performing teachers in each school district would be encouraged and funded to enter principal development training.
DINELLI ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
When Ronchetti says “Chronically low-performing schools would undergo leadership changes” and “the public schools are failing to educate because of lack of leadership” he is not at all clear on exactly what he is talking about. He is long on political rhetoric with no specifics when he says “Great school leaders can turn around poor-performing schools, by elevating expectations, improving hiring practices, building a “can do” culture, better developing and supporting teachers, and implementing best practices designed to understand each child’s academic needs and help them grow”. Simply put, this is what you can call “sound bite management” of the public education system designed to “purge” educator’s that are considered substandard or who do not “tow” his philosophical education line.
- EARLY INTERVENTION ON LITERACY
New Mexico ranks 49th in the nation in literacy. Students who cannot read by the third grade have a harder time learning, are more prone to discouragement in later grades, and are more likely to drop out of school.
Ronchetti’s education plan for literacy growth hinges on three things:
- An expectation that every early-grade teacher is trained every year in the best strategies and science on teaching literacy
- Instructional coaches and support staff are prioritized toward English Language Arts classes in grades K through 3; and
- Both parents and students knowing their reading level—and how it’s changing—on a month-by-month basis, with regular conversations between parents and teachers about what needs to be done inside and outside the classroom to improve their reading skills.
The Ronchetti education plan focuses on early childhood education programs and accountability to improving kindergarten readiness for kids age 0 to 5. The plan is to ensure the State’s new early Childhood Cabinet Department, which was created by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2020, is fulfilling its intended purpose which is to better coordinate early childhood programs and ensure that those families who really need to be accessing the childcare, home visiting, and pre-K programs are, in fact, enrolling in them.
DINELLI ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
Much if not all of Mark Ronchetti’s Education Plan dealing with early intervention on literacy is already being dealt with aggressively, addressed or planned by the Public Education Department in response to the reforms mandated by the landmark education case of Yazzie v. State of New Mexico and Martinez. As a result of the landmark ruling, the Lujan Grisham over the last 4 legislative sessions has been highly successful in securing the millions necessary to implement the reforms to bring the public school system in compliance with the court ruling.
- ATTACK THE TRUANCY PROBLEM
The Ronchetti education plan cites that over 40% of the students in APS are chronically absent, which is nearly double the rate of absenteeism from a few years ago, calling it a “systemic failure.” Ronchetti charges that Governor Lujan Grisham has taken a failing approach to truancy that serves no one. The Ronchetti education plans is to Use COVID funds to hire and build teams in high truancy schools to focus exclusively on getting children back to school and/or finding education alternatives that meet the needs of the child and their family. He proposes create high-risk classrooms with lower student-teacher ratios in high-risk schools for children experiencing high rates of truancy.
DINELLI ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
Mark Ronchetti’s Education Plan dealing with “attack the truancy problem” is already being be addressed by the individual school districts in the state.
- SCHOOL SAFETY AND ATTENTION TO MENTAL, EMOTIONAL HEALTH
The Ronchetti plan proclaims more needs to be done to recognize and address the mental health needs of students, including investing education resources in a more robust mental health system.
Ronchetti wants to implement a program aimed at placing retired law enforcement and military in the public schools to act as “Security Resource Officers” to provide security as part of faculty and they would pay into education retirement. Each school would be allowed to define the role for its or security aide.
The benefits of having a security resources officer or security aide include:
- Increased perception of safety by students, staff, and parents resulting in an improved perception of the school environment.
- Leads to more positive relationships between police and young students, and between police and schools nurturing a positive attitude of respect.
- Police presence serves as a deterrent to crime and misbehavior.
- Allows police to establish relationships with students and staff that facilitate gathering information to prevent crimes or intervening with students who may be planning a crime.
DINELLI ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
Mark Ronchetti’s education plan dealing with “school safety and attention to mental, emotional health” reflects a level of sure ignorance in two areas of major concern.
With respect to addressing the mental health needs of students with a more “robust mental health system,” the State is still struggling with restoring the state mental health care system decimated by the former Republican Governor who shut down 15 mental health care providers after she made false accusations of Medicaid fraud billing and withholding state funding. In early 2016, following exhaustive investigations, the Attorney General cleared all 15 of the healthcare providers of any wrongdoing and exonerated all of them of fraud but the damage had been done. Many of the 15 nonprofits could not continue and just went out of business leaving many of the 160,000 New Mexicans receiving behavioral health services without a behavioral health service provider.
Ronchetti’s wants to implement a program aimed at placing retired law enforcement in the schools. Ronchetti is ignorant of the fact that most if not all the school systems in the state already have “school resource officers” that provide security, many in response to school shootings in the country.
The Albuquerque Public School System already has its own, full time police force, most who are retired APD officers. The City of Albuquerque also assigns and pays sworn APD police officers to provide security at all high schools in the city.
REACTION OF GOVERNOR LUJAN GRISHAM
Governor Lujan Grisham issued the following statement in response to the Ronchetti Education Plan
“Governor Lujan Grisham believes that every New Mexico student, regardless of where they come from or who they are, should be able to access the high-quality education they deserve. That’s why her administration invested more than $1 billion to improve New Mexico’s public schools, raised educator pay to be the highest in the southwest, brought retired educators back to work, created universal pre-k, made child carefree for most New Mexico families, and built the most extensive tuition-free higher education program in the country.
In contrast, Mark Ronchetti’s education ideas would disadvantage New Mexico’s most vulnerable students, especially rural and Native students, with a school voucher scheme that would drain funding from public schools by allowing wealthy parents to use taxpayer dollars to send their kids to private schools in cities, with no oversight or accountability for how tax dollars are spent.
Ronchetti opposes funding for early childhood education that nearly 70% of New Mexicans support and has said he would completely overturn the Opportunity Scholarship program allowing all New Mexicans to access a higher education. There’s a clear choice in this race between Gov. Lujan Grisham’s record of historic investments in New Mexico’s public schools, and Mark Ronchetti’s dangerous schemes to rip money out of the public school system.”
REACTION BY STATE SENATOR MIMI STEWART
Albuquerque Democrat Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, who is a retired public-school teacher, was quick to take issue with Ronchetti’s Public Education Plan asserting it was nothing more than a lead up to school vouchers. She did so by bringing up a March radio interview where Ronchetti indicated his support for vouchers for private schools.
In the interview Ronchetti explain that vouchers would give flexibility to parents for their public-school education. Public education would come first but then he would build on success to cover private schools. Ronchetti answered a question this way:
“Now when you said, you mentioned the money follows the student. How far would that money be able to follow the student? Does the student have to be in public school or would that money be able to follow if the parent wanted to put them in a private school?”
“No, no, I think ideally, you want to give people the maximum amount of flexibility you can.”
[KSVP, 10:52-11:12, 3/31/22]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPGkcjx3Z7I
Senator Stewart had this to say about Ronchetti’s Education Plan:
“I really believe he’s a danger to public education here as we know it … Ronchetti seems determined to undermine public education in his effort to push school vouchers. And even though he said this morning those vouchers would be for public schools, he’s said in interviews that it would extend to private schools, draining funding for public schools and New Mexico’s most vulnerable students. That means he would send taxpayer dollars to private schools with no accountability to the public. We must keep public dollars in public schools. A zip code shouldn’t determine whether a child has access to a great education from a great public school. Parents should have more public-school options to choose from and be empowered to select the public school that best fits the interests, needs, and abilities of their child – whether that’s a traditional, magnet, or charter school.”
REACTION BY PUBLIC EDUCATION REPRESENTATIVES
Not at all surprising, the reaction of those within the state’s Public Education system to Ronchetti’s education plan was generally negative. Many said it was no plan at all, would damage public education and much of what Ronchettis is being proposing is already being undertaken. For example, this year’s budget legislation requires the Public Education Department (PED) to monitor school and district budgets to ensure funding goes to the functions most likely to improve student outcomes.
Whitney Holland, president of the American Federation of Teachers noted that Lujan Grisham has a proven track record of accomplishment on education that goes beyond campaign promises. That record includes a bipartisan bill that boosted the starting pay for teachers from $40,000 to $50,000, in addition to other increases. The salary increases have made a real difference in recruitment of teachers. According to Public Education Department data, upwards of 5,200 new teachers have joined the state’s education workforce in the recent fiscal year, up from fewer than 2,900 the year before.
Holland had this to say:
“We have seen her work firsthand. … Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas.”
The increase instructional time for students is already a priority of New Mexico policymakers and lawmakers who have made more funding available for programs that extend the school year, among other strategies.
FINAL COMMENTARY ANALYSIS
Mark Ronchetti’s Public Education Plan is as about as weak as it gets and it deserves a failing grade of “F”. When comes down to it, it is as if his education plan was hurriedly put together by someone with little or no knowledge of the state’s public education system and someone with no knowledge of the roles of locally elected school boards. Before Republican Mark Ronchetti tries to offer anything more on improving the state’s public education system, it is suggested that he goes back to school and educate himself on the realities of public education and at least try to offer something more than just school vouchers.