Include educators

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By Optic Editorial Board

Gov. Susana Martinez has made it clear that she wants to reform New Mexico’s education system, and we applaud that goal.

Having an effective education system is critical to so many quality of life issues, economic development being chief among them. So it makes sense that the governor and her administration are making education a top priority.

But wanting to improve the education system in this state and actually doing it are two very different things.

And, frankly, we’re becoming concerned with the way that the Martinez administration is going about instituting education reforms in this state.

Earlier this month, the administration announced that the state would start rating teacher preparation programs, with the first rankings being released later this year.  

Under the plan, schools of education will be scored based on several factors, including whether their graduates helped increase student achievement. Martinez announced that there are also plans to increase the standards for passing the state exam required to become a teacher.

And they said the initiatives were developed by administration and college officials.

Sounds good, except for one thing.

Belinda Laumbach, the interim dean of the Highlands University School of Education, says the administration specifically excluded deans of the state’s education schools from the working group.

“Deans were not allowed ‘a place at the table’ nor invited to any of the meetings of this workgroup,” Laumbach states in a letter to the editor published in Friday’s Optic. “If invited by a university administrator, the dean’s role was only ‘to support their decisions and provide technical advice’ (PED email) when asked. When invited to speak, no one listened. Most of the members of the workgroup are not educators.”

She goes on to state that the workgroup had no say in the development of the evaluation plan.

“The deans of education were not even allowed a place at the table, much less a voice,” Laumbach contends.

We understand that the workgroup consisted mostly of college presidents and regents, and while they definitely should have had a place at the table, excluding the school’s education deans was a ridiculous move.

Besides jeopardizing the credibility of the new evaluation system, excluding education deans from the process sends the message that their experience and expertise is not valued. It’s a slap in the face to every professional educator in this state.