'Promise' bus rolls into Los Alamos

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Education > Concern grows over NMPED’s reforms

By Tris DeRoma

The “Keep the Promise” Bus rolled into Los Alamos Thursday, parking in the Sullivan Field parking lot around 3 p.m. right across from the high school.

Even though it was quite cold, at least one Los Alamos School Board member came out to “sign the bus” as well as a few teachers and some kids.

Keep the Promise is a partnership of businesses, educators and parents that’s concerned with the latest educational reforms coming out of the New Mexico Education Department. Since the beginning of the school year, the NMPED has introduced many changes to it’s teacher evaluation system as well as to the curriculum, which has many teachers upset.

Isidoro Herrera, a member of the American Federation of Teachers who was on bus, said there are other issues they want to bring to forefront, too.

“Teacher evaluations, fair salaries, and adequate salaries for all employees and staff are important issues too,” Herrera said.

Many think the NMPED has introduced too much too soon, and has loaded its teacher evaluation process, known as

“NMTeach” with too much “busywork,” which teachers in Los Alamos say is severely cutting into their teaching time with the students.

One of the organization’s bigger supporters and partners of Keep the Promise is the American Federation of Teachers. The president of the New Mexico chapter Stephanie Ly rode on the bus into Los Alamos, and was greeted by Ellen Millis, the president of the Los Alamos Federation of School employees. Los Alamos School Board Member Dr. Kevin Honnell came out as well as some teachers from the district.

Though the bus has stopped in places like Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Ly said it was important for the bus to stop in smaller places like Los Alamos, whose school board is also working on its own plan to deal with the recent reforms coming from the NMPED.

“We really believe that the community here is really interested in education,” Ly said. “They’ve been a part of our regional tables, our union has been a part of it, community members have been a part of it, and so we wanted to stop in Los Alamos to see if other community members wanted to sign on to this vision.”

They all signed the bus, which later showed up in front of the Public Education Department in Santa Fe Friday to remind officials there that many residents and teachers across New Mexico are looking for the NMPED as well as the state legislature to make some changes in the upcoming legislative session.

“I’m glad to see us included on the tour because this is a central issue, and perhaps the most important issue in education over the next year,” Honnell said.