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.

DOJ to look into APD’s use of federal training

The U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to take a look into the Albuquerque Police Department’s participation with the Department of Energy at at a federal facility. This comes months after Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., voiced concern about the police department’s use of the DOE’s National Training Center, which is located at Kirtland Air Force Base. There, Albuquerque police took part in training and in some cases instructed courses using controversial methods. Grisham released a statement today about the matter, saying that she raised concerns in February to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz about whether Albuquerque police “should have access to the facilities and classes used to train special DOE police forces to protect the nation’s nuclear stockpile.” She mentioned that for a year, Albuquerque police “has been under a consent decree with the DOJ” following the federal agency’s report that the department had in several cases violated law by using excessive force.

HBO’s John Oliver mentions NM PARCC testing

New Mexico got a small mention on a popular HBO news show this weekend, with clips from local TV stations including one high profile union leader. Last Week Tonight is hosted by former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver. Oliver’s show typically devotes a long period of time—in this case more than 15 minutes—to one specific topic. This week’s topic was standardized testing in schools. New Mexico uses the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, tests in schools.

Keller outlines ‘probable’ violations of law to reporters

State Auditor Tim Keller forwarded his office’s findings of Albuquerque Police Department’s potentially illegal relationship with an Arizona stun gun company to two legal offices for investigation. Keller’s office released a report, which New Mexico Political Report outlined early Thursday, finding probable violations of city and state law from the department’s nearly $2 million contract with TASER International for lapel cameras. His office also asked state Attorney General Hector Balderas and District Attorney Kari Brandenberg to conduct investigations into the matter. Specifically, Keller’s risk review found former Albuquerque Police Chief Raymond Schultz’ actions in “probable” violation of the state Governmental Conduct Act, city procurement rules and city conflict of interest rules. “We believe these are very substantial violations,” Keller told a crowd of reporters Thursday morning.

TV stations, others critical of APD use of YouTube videos

A new trend by the city of Albuquerque and its police department of releasing video statements online in lieu of face-to-face interviews has one New Mexico television executive mad enough to issue a video condemning the practice. Last week, Mary Lynn Roper, president and general manager for KOAT-TV, spoke out against the Albuquerque Police Department for issuing statements through their YouTube channel. In the video, posted on KOAT’s website, Roper accused APD of hiding behind an “electric version of The Wizard of Oz curtain” and not releasing information. The full video is available below. According to Roper, KOAT-TV requested information about a fatal shooting at a skate park and only received a pre-recorded video as a response.

Comment on rape draws demand for apology

Comments made about rape during a committee hearing last week are now drawing demands for an apology from a Republican lawmaker. The Santa Fe New Mexican wrote a story about Rep. Kelly Fajardo, R-Albuquerque, demanding an apology from Rep. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, over what he said in the House Judiciary Committee on legislation to take parental rights away from rapists. “Rape is defined in many ways, and some of it is just drunken college sex,” Martinez said according to the New Mexican. From the New Mexican:
“It is simply inexcusable that Rep. Kenny Martinez dismissed a serious crime as nothing more than a night of ‘drunken college sex,’ “Fajardo said in a news release. “His comments are belittling to anyone who has ever been a victim and survivor of sexual abuse, and I hope that he will apologize.”

QUIZ: Right-to-work quotes, 35 years ago or today?

As New Mexico Political Report mentioned earlier this week, we will be highlighting some coverage of old legislative sessions and how they compare to today’s. The obvious start of our look back at old legislative sessions were the two in 1979 and 1981. These were the two years that right-to-work legislation passed both the state House and state Senate. The legislation was vetoed by then-governor Bruce King, a Democrat who was a close ally of labor, both times. Neither chamber had the votes to override the veto.