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Education efforts in this country – and in New Mexico – continue to struggle. We have poured millions upon millions of dollars into our educational system with little or no result.
We think it is a time for a change.
In a recent report, the state Public Education Department said that there has been some improvement among student proficiency in math and reading during the past five years. The vast majority of schools still missed state-established goals for increasing student achievement.
And the state standards are very low so this is very disturbing.
Officials released what they said were troubling new figures that showed only about half of the state’s students were graduating from high school within four years.
So not only are we graduating fewer students, but those who are graduating are doing so at a lower standard.
And this is what we get for spending something like 60 percent of our state budget on education? That doesn’t even count the local contribution from property taxes.
In a report released by the Associated Press, of the students who entered the freshmen class in 2004, 54 percent graduated from high school four years later. The national average is 70 percent.
Even Education Secretary Veronica Garcia said the numbers are “clearly unacceptable.”
Garcia said that nearly 70 percent of schools failed to make “adequate yearly progress” under a federally required system for assessing schools.
And she said that targets were met by 30.7 percent of schools, down from the 32.3 percent last year.
Something must be done.
We are fortunate here where our schools are at the top of the state. Among the reasons for that is involved and caring parents, something that is sadly missing in many communities.
But the state cannot simply claim such issues and throw up their hands. They must act.
There must be new thinking. Things like teacher accountability and higher pay for higher performing teachers must be considered. Teachers - like every worker - should be held accountable in some fair manner for their work.
This is a serious problem that demands serious and immediate attention. Just throwing more money at our public educational system has not worked and will not work.
We need new and fresh solutions.