Thanks to everyone for the comments regarding my answers to the focused and thought-provoking Los Alamos High School “Topper Times” questions. The implication is being made that I reject lifelong learning as an important component for High School graduates. Another implication made is that I’m attacking teachers in some fashion. If you actually read my comments, you will find neither of those implications is accurate. The biting criticism I offer is aimed at the fact that lifelong learning is the only strategic vision for our students. That’s it. That’s the goal for our school system and that vision is inadequate. Inadequate policies fail not only students but teachers as well.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to discuss this topic further since important issues deserve discussion. The personal attacks that come along are expected nowadays and may just be due to people’s passion about education, which is understandable. They won’t dissuade me from illustrating the poor vision and policies that limit students and, most importantly, teachers. Application of what is learned in school and life is not even mentioned in passing in our school system’s strategic vision. As shown in my comments, I want our graduates to be “…not only capable of additional learning but fully ready to be ‘do’ers’ ….”. A strategic vision that does not even mention a student’s successful application of learning is truly hollow and depressing. That is my criticism. Demoting the application of learning in life may well be a factor in reduced test performance now evident in our school system.
I am the father of a flight paramedic who is in the process of applying to medical school and a neonatal intensive care nurse with two undergraduate degrees and am well versed in the importance of continued learning throughout life. Both of my older children have saved multiple lives and each of those events was a test. A graded and timed event where learning was not the goal but applying what they had learned was! Their application of what they had learned enabled a life to continue. Words mean something and we should expect graduates to be capable of applying their learning to the purpose of affecting positive change their lives immediately upon graduation. As of now, our vision states that our school system is 100% successful if our children are prepared for endless (lifelong it says) future learning endeavors. What about the graduates moving immediately into the work force? Yes, they will learn there BUT they must start to apply what they know right now. These students are our future, and this vision is not good enough for them. If elected, be assured this is another area I’ll seek to understand how to improve and will work with the board and superintendent to take action.
If elected, I will ensure that all teachers are asked for their views on what policies, practices or educational content impede their ability to succeed for their students. This will be an anonymous poll without filtering from any other organization so that an honest and comprehensive understanding can be provided to the School Board. Our teachers know each student’s need and are best equipped to create improvement. I will work for policies and practices that support them instead of impeding them. I’ll also ensure that parents are included to greater extent in what goes on in school and in their children’s education.
To close, numerous letters have been written attempting to distract the community from downward trends in academic performance. They say “nothing to see here”. Some provide evidence that we are still doing OK compared to a small handful of other New Mexico schools and then accuse the other side of “cherry picking” data. Interesting how data that defends maintaining a status quo is more important than data that indicates we should take action to do better. Who is “cherry picking”? One thing for sure, the educational data that show New Mexico is 50th in the nation is not in question.
Believe me, your vote matters now more than ever!
Candidate For District 4
Los Alamos Public Schools Board