Archives for category: Albuquerque

Scott Glasrud received a sentence of five years for theft of millions of dollars from his charter chain.

After more than five hours in court Friday morning, a judge has sentenced the founder of Southwest Learning Centers to five years in prison.

Members of the Southwest Learning Center were happy to hear the judge’s sentence Friday.

The president of one of the schools tells News 13 he still does not believe five years is enough for all the damage Scott Glasrud has done.

“After 14 years of doing this, I don’t know if he knows another way of life. Personally, I don’t feel that he’s learned a lesson at all,” says Larry Kennedy, President of SAMS Academy.

Glasrud pled guilty to stealing millions of dollars from the school and state to feed his lavish lifestyle.

He used the money to buy expensive cars like a Maserati, boats and a $10,000 square-foot home.

Last year, he took a plea deal on charges of theft, fraud and lying to investigators that would put him behind bars for four to five years.

During his sentencing Friday morning, no cameras were allowed inside the courtroom, but Glasrud gave a tearful testimony saying he was sorry for what he has done and has no excuse for his behavior, except that he was greedy.

Larry Kennedy, the president of SAMS Academy, says he did not buy Glasrud’s act.

“I felt he was putting on a show. He put on a show for the schools for 14 years. He’s very good at it. I really feel that’s what he did,” says Kennedy.

In December 2015, a state district judge in New Mexico put a halt to the use of New Mexico’s teacher evaluation system, which then State Commissioner Hanna Skandera had imported from Florida. Her replacement since Skandera’s departure, Chris Ruzskowski (former TFA) praised the state’s harshly punitive system as the toughest in the nation. In Skandera’s seven years leading the New Mexico schools, the state NAEP scores were stagnant. They are in the NAEP cellar with the poorest Southern states. None of her “Florida reforms” made any difference.

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley here reviews what is now known about this teacher evaluation program. As is typical, 70% of teachers do not teach the tested subjects. Teachers in affluent districts get higher scores. Teachers who teach the neediest kids get the lowest scores. Caucasian teachers get higher scores than non-Caucasians.

It may soon be a moot issue, as all three Democratic candidates and the one Republican running for Governor have said they would overhaul or discard the flawed evaluation system.

Congratulations to the AFT of New Mexico, which fought this idiotic system in court and halted its consequences.


John Thompson wrote an excellent review of Daniel Koretz’s “The Testing Charade” in the Huffington Post. 

“Daniel Koretz’ TheTesting Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better may be the best book on testing since his Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us. We should all be grateful to Koretz’ editor who told him to stop “pulling your punches.” That’s why The Testing Charade “finally” uses “honest adjectives to describe the harm high-stakes testing has done to students and teachers.”

“That being said, Koretz had been correct to use “carefully measured” academic language in his earlier discussions of education policy. Since he was such a respected scholar, even the most true-believing, accountability-driven reformers had to listen to Koretz’ advice. He also had to be diplomatic in order to negotiate access to data that school systems carefully guard, and advise superintendents and other education leaders. In some of the most valuable parts of the book, Koretz is thus able to explain the edu-politics that created a testing regime that remains “Beyond All Reason.” (Emphasis is Koretz’)

“These conversations illustrate why Koretz had to conclude his analysis with a reminder that thirty years ago he and other social scientists warned that test-based accountability “wouldn’t succeed.” The stakes attached to tests were much smaller back then but he predicted that even those milder accountability systems would “face only three options: cheat, find other ways to cut corners, or fail.” However, neither Koretz or anyone else “predicted just how extreme the failures of test-based reform would be.” He didn’t anticipate cheating on the scale that it occurred. He expected bad test prep, but he “didn’t expect states and districts would openly peddle it to their teachers.”

Read the Review. Read the book.

The public schools of Albuquerque, New Mexico, plan to save money by eliminating middle school sports teams.

Be it noted that Republican Governor Susanna Martinez has refused to raise taxes and has threatened to defund state universities.

The one potential cut that gets parents’ attention is sports teams.

New Mexico doesn’t want to pay for educating its children.

“Parents reacted with dismay to 3,400 students in Albuquerque Public Schools losing a traditional training ground for high school athletics. Basketball, volleyball and track and field teams in the district’s 28 middle schools are set to be disbanded next school year, leaving families to find private leagues for children in grades 6, 7 and 8.

“Some worry that low-income families in particular may be hard-pressed to find teams and facilities outside public school, while others say the opportunity to play sports is critical for students at such a formative age.

“Vanessa Petty, president of the parents association at Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School in Albuquerque, said her daughter was looking forward to playing volleyball next year.

“Their first introduction to sports for a majority of children is middle school,” Petty said. “It’s huge not just for their personal health but more for social aspects. They learn teamwork, they learn respect for others.”

“Under the athletic cuts, teachers would lose coaching stipends and short-term coaching contracts would go away. The changes will save $580,000 and help avoid classroom cuts, district spokeswoman Monica Armenta said.”

That is a small fraction of the $26 million in reductions that the district says may be needed as New Mexico wrestles with a downturn in tax income linked to oil prices, a sluggish economy and the highest U.S. unemployment rate. Public schools in New Mexico rely on the state for nearly all their operating budgets.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and the Democratic-led Legislature are in a standoff over how to fill a $156 million budget shortfall and protect the state’s credit rating. Martinez vetoed tax increases that she called reckless and plans to call lawmakers back to the Capitol to renegotiate.

Lawmakers are preparing to sue the governor to block vetoes that would defund all state universities, the Legislature and other core government services.

Mike Klonsky says that most people have no idea what Trump’s ideas are about education. He keeps saying he wants to get rid of Common Core. “It’s a disaster,” he says, but somehow I would guess that he has never seen the CCSS standards and has no idea why they are “a disaster.” Maybe because the people he is courting don’t like them.


But Mike pulls together a number of statements that Trump has made about education. While they don’t add up to a coherent perspective or ideology, there is more to his approach than abolishing Common Core.

A group of courageous teachers burned their evaluations in a trash can in front of the Albuquerque Public Schools headquarters a few days ago. They are heroes of public education for standing up and saying that these evaluations are junk.

More than three dozen Albuquerque school teachers, including many who have just been rated “highly effective” by the New Mexico Public Education Department, burned their teacher evaluations in front of the Albuquerque Public Schools headquarters Wednesday to protest what many called the inherent “unfairness” of the process.

Courtney Hinman ignited the blaze by taking a lighter to his “effective” evaluation. He was quickly followed by a “minimally effective” special education teacher from Albuquerque High School, then by a “highly effective” teacher from Monte Vista Elementary School.

Wally Walstrom, also of Monte Vista Elementary, told the crowd of 60 or 70 people that his “highly effective” rating was “meaningless,” before tossing it into the fire.

One after another, teachers used the words “meaningless” and “unfair” to describe the evaluations and the process used to arrive at those judgments.

One teacher said she was judged “highly effective,” but a colleague who uses many of the same teaching techniques was found to be “minimally effective.”

Another teacher said the majority of his autistic, special-needs students failed the SBA – a mandatory assessment test – yet he was judged “highly effective.”

To see one of these hero teachers in action, read David Wilson’s account of his exchange with the local newspaper, which is in the unfortunate habit of printing press releases from the state education department, headed by Jeb Bush acolyte Hanna Skandera. She is now chairperson of Bush’s shrinking “Chiefs for Change.” Her appointment as state commissioner was held up for years by the State Senate because she had never taught (a requirement in the state law).

Here is how his forthright letter to the editor begins:

I am writing to ask you to issue a retraction or correction to the article Ms. Westphal wrote recently about the middle school teacher who received an evaluation of minimally effective after receiving highly effective last year. I have written to Ms. Westphal regarding this matter. Unfortunately, I received an automated response explaining that she was out of town.

In your retraction or correction, please state that, contrary to what Ms. Westphal stated in her article, Ms. Hur, chief of staff of Ed Sect’y Skandera, is not a teacher. If you state that she was once a teacher, be sure to include the fact that she taught for only three years, from 2001-2004. In the state of NM, a teacher with only 3 years experience is considered a beginning, relatively inexperienced teacher, still in her probationary period.

Please also include the fact that her three years of teaching experience were in a private school, not a public school, and that she was therefore never subject to the high teaching standards historically applied to public school teachers. Include the fact that she has never been evaluated by NMTeach and has never taught under the requirements of NCLB and RTTT.

It would also be forthright of you to point out that Ms. Hur has never been certified to teach in the state of New Mexico and may also no longer be certified to teach in Colorado.

Finally, you might consider mentioning that Ms. Hur worked for Michelle Rhee’s The New Teacher Project (TNTP) and for David Coleman’s McKinsey & Co., two private organizations that continue to work feverishly to undermine America’s public schools by discrediting and demonizing public school teachers, privatizing our public institutions, and turning our students into perpetual test takers.