After Senate override effort, veto unchallenged in House

The state Senate’s extraordinary effort to override a veto by Gov. Susana Martinez has landed with a thud in the House of Representatives. Two days after senators voted overwhelmingly to save a bill that would have allowed teachers to use more sick days without being penalized in their performance evaluation, no one has stepped forward in the House to call for a similar override vote. Note: This piece has been updated throughout. Majority Democrats are looking to Republicans who co-sponsored the bill to push for the override in the House. Related: Senate votes to override Martinez veto on teacher absences bill

A two-thirds majority of both the Senate and House is needed to override a veto.

GOP senator starts process for overriding governor’s veto on teacher sick days

A Republican legislator on Friday began his attempt to override Gov. Susana Martinez’s veto of a bill that would enable teachers to use more sick days without being penalized in their performance evaluation. Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, moved to have the vetoed bill returned to the Senate so he could seek an override early next week. Martinez is also a Republican, but Brandt said he would continue pursuing the override unless they can reach a compromise in which teachers are not penalized. He said he had initiated conversations with Martinez’s Public Education Department in hopes of starting such a discussion. Related: Martinez vetoes bill on use of sick leave impacting teachers’ evaluations

“I don’t take any joy in overriding a veto,” Brandt said.

Lobbyists spent more than $85,000 in first weeks of session

Members of New Mexico’s citizen Legislature only receive $164 per day for expenses, plus mileage, during the session. But there are other perks to the job. For instance, the industry group called Ski New Mexico last week handed out VIP membership cards to 110 of the 112 state lawmakers, entitling them to two free days of skiing at any of eight ski areas in the state. The total value of the cards was $27,500, according to a lobbyist expense report filed this week by George Brooks, executive director of Ski New Mexico. That expense represented a large portion of the $85,000-plus that lobbyists and the organizations that hire them have reported spending on meals, parties, receptions and gifts for legislators and others so far in the session, which began just over two weeks ago.

PED let superintendent’s license lapse before renewing it

Public documents show the superintendent of a school district in Sandoval County worked for four months in 2015 on an expired state educator license. But that superintendent, Allan Tapia of Bernalillo Municipal Schools, blames the state Public Education Department for not processing his license on time. “If they didn’t process it on their end, I didn’t have control over that,” he said in an interview. The documents, obtained through public records requests to the state by NM Political Report, show a 115-day gap between the expiration of Tapia’s administrative license and its renewal by the state Public Education Department last year. They also show the state’s renewal of Tapia’s administrative license came nearly four months after his previous license expired.

The test-based focus of the budget must be ended

Betty Patterson is the President of the National Education Association–New Mexico
Students are at the center of our existence at the National Education Association–New Mexico. Student success is best supported when every student has a high-quality professional education team there for them. House Bill 2 (HB2), the budget bill, as sent by the House to the Senate moves our state in the wrong direction. An amendment to HB2 moves our state in the right direction by proposing to remove $8.5 million to fund the destructive and failed “merit pay” program of the Public Education Department (PED). The amendment converts those funds so they will be spent by districts to pay for a 16 % increase school employees will otherwise pay themselves for health insurance next year.

New Mexico lobbyist spending tops $818,000 in 2015

Lobbyists and their employers spent some $818,000 on meals, receptions and gifts for lawmakers and other New Mexico officials in 2015. Individual lobbyists – 148 of them – spent more $474,000, while 23 businesses spent more than $344,000, reports show. The overall total includes a rarity in New Mexico campaign finance reporting — the money a big New Mexico corporation spent on lobbying services last year. In a report filed Friday, Yates Petroleum Corp. reported paying former state Sen. Kent Cravens nearly $90,000 for lobbying services.

Senators wear pizza and coke socks to State of the State

Some Democratic lawmakers are wearing socks at the Roundhouse that make tongue-in-cheek, some say petty, references to Gov. Susana Martinez’ infamous pizza party. That’s according to a tweet from the Twitter handle of National Education Association New Mexico. The socks feature cartoons of pizza slices and soda cups, a not subtle reference to Martinez’s infamous Christmas party 911 call. The teacher’s union, which has clashed with Martinez in the past, says that some Democratic senators will be wearing the socks while she makes her annual State of the State speech, scheduled to begin any minute now. Martinez got in hot water on Dec.

APS halts teacher punishments tied to test scores

Albuquerque teachers punished for low scores earlier this year on state teacher evaluations need no longer worry—for now. A memo sent this week to principals across Albuquerque Public Schools says that “effective immediately” the district is suspending all teacher professional growth plans based on evaluations from the state’s NMTEACH program. Based on the New Mexico Public Education Department’s figures of the percentage of low scoring teachers and APS’ total amount of teachers, the pause affects more than 1,500 teachers in the state’s largest school district. APS made the decision one week after a Santa Fe District judge temporarily barred the PED from using scores from the state’s controversial teacher evaluations for school personnel decisions. A PED spokesman didn’t respond to a request to comment for this story.

Report: PED licensed superintendent based on forged credentials

A Las Vegas Optic investigation into whether a Mora superintendent forged his state educator administration credentials is prompting at least two outside investigations into the matter. Over the weekend, the newspaper ran a story it had been working on for five months concluding that Mora Independent Schools District Superintendent Charles E. Trujillo, in the story’s own words, “faked his credentials in order to qualify for the administrative license he received.” The discrepancies include Trujillo faking a Highlands University transcript to show that he had a Master’s Degree, lying that he was employed as an education administrator for seven years instead of two and a half years and exaggerating that he worked as an adjunct instructor at Luna Community College for six years instead of three years. The state Public Education Department (PED), according to the Optic story, gave Trujillo an administrative license based on his Master’s Degree, for having more than six years experience as an education administrator and more than six years experience as an instructor. All ended up being not true, according to the Optic.

Public Education Department chose to deceive

Charles Goodmacher is the government and media relations director for NEA-New Mexico
Every New Mexico student deserves the opportunity for an education led by high-quality teachers. The system brought in when the Public Education Department threw out the old one is doing the opposite – driving great teachers away and limiting the time available for the teachers who remain to provide a high quality, well-rounded education as they sacrifice that to a test-driven standardized curriculum. New Mexico students are being short-changed by the new evaluation system implemented by Secretary Hanna Skandera, based on the false assertion that 99.8 percent of teachers were evaluated as satisfactory under the prior evaluation system. This figure was stated again and again, before legislative committees and to the media — so much so it became accepted as the truth as shown in these May 16 and July 26, 2014 Albuquerque Journal articles and this KRQE story on the new system. They used that political claim to impose their system, which unfairly subjects students to over-testing and thereby short changes students with an emphasis on only those subjects that are easily tested.