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School days for instruction, not for in-service

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By Ralph Damiani

We agree with those who say that of all things funded by the state and local governments, education is at the top of the list.There is little else more important than our children and helping to prepare them for the future. Boosting teacher pay is one way to work toward this end.But it is not the only way – as many like to say.More and more teacher pay in New Mexico has gone up and up. And more and more the performance of our students has gone down and down.Internationally, we are falling behind many countries in the production of an educated, literate society. This trend has to end.A couple of things that could help are to hold teachers accountable for their work and keep them in the classroom more.If you are a parent who throws up your arms in disbelief because it seems like your child is out of school more often than in school due to teacher in-service training days, relief could be on the way.Sen. Mark Boitano is introducing a bill in the current legislative session that would require professional development days to be taken outside of the students’ school year so they can have class time for the entire 180 days of instruction as required by law.Now, those days when there is no school and students are home, count. They should not.Boitano said the bill, called “Prohibiting Professional Development During the Instructional Year,” makes plenty of sense for those parents who scratch their heads wondering why their kids are off of school so much. “Parents are constantly complaining about in-service days,” Boitano said of the bill. “They have to continually juggle schedules because of these in-service days that seem to pop up all of the time. I support professional development, but outside the school year so our kids and parents aren’t inconvenienced and instruction is not disrupted during the state mandated 180 day school year.” Boitano’s bill in effective would require a school year to be a full 180 days of instruction by disallowing in-service during the school year.“Teachers are telling me they do not have enough time during the school year to teach the content standards and benchmarks, so the legislature has considered expanding the school year to give them more time. But instead of lengthening the school year by three to five days, more time can be gained by actually having the teacher in the classroom for the entire school year,” Boitano said.We could not agree more and support passage of this bill. We need to start taking real steps to get our educational system back on track and this seems like a good first step.