by Meredith Machen, LWV New Mexico
Meredith Machen, President of the New Mexico League, has just won The New Mexican 10 Who Made a Difference award for 2015. She sends us their LWVNM positions and strategies to support public education.
This could not be more timely. Here in Florida, we are working on a similar statement. It is easier to criticize the many shortcomings of current education policy than it is to formulate workable strategies, but New Mexico has set a high standard. They address many current problems in constructive ways.
The LWV-Florida is compiling strategies from other state leagues as well. Send us yours.
EDUCATION (Adopted 1987; revised 1995, 2009, 2015)
The League of Women Voters of New Mexico (LWVNM) believes that education is the cornerstone for perpetuating a strong and viable democracy. The public education system should impart to all students an understanding of the nature of democracy and the responsibilities of citizenship, the ability to think critically, and the skills necessary to continue to learn and function as adults in a complex society.
The League supports public schools as the primary method of educating students. The League opposes the presence of private, for-profit companies in the governance, management and provision of public education.
LWVNM supports the following strategies to ensure the greatest possible academic success for all students:
School System Practices for Student Success:
- Use the Common Core State Standards to provide a framework for knowledge and academic skills for all students, accompanied by flexibility for local school systems to determine how this body of knowledge and skills is imparted to students.
- Develop to each student’s highest potential the mastery of knowledge and skills needed for success in adult life, along with a broad understanding and appreciation of past history and prospects for the future.
- Cultivate each student’s capacity to solve problems and make decisions.
- Provide opportunities for all students to develop their aesthetic awareness and creative abilities.
- Foster an awareness of the rights and privileges of membership in a democratic society, and acceptance of the responsibilities involved.
- Foster an understanding of basic economic principles and the need to manage resources for the benefit of both present and future generations.
- Provide the tools to make wise vocational choices, as well as an understanding of the importance of each individual’s work in the local, national, and world economies.
- Promote practices that lead to physical, mental and emotional well-being.
- Enhance the sense of community within the school, as a microcosm of the larger society, through standards of conduct that reflect a concern for the opinions, values, aspirations, and well-being of all.
- Develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of students through experiential-based learning. Also, use technology for self-paced learning.
- Maintain health and social service teams in the schools to identify and work with at-risk children and their parents or caregivers, with referrals to appropriate community agencies when necessary.
- Collaborate across all sectors of the community to improve public education at all levels.
- Seek business initiatives offering work schedules that support student attendance at school.
- Create incentives to encourage students to develop career skills and graduate from high school.
- Institute programs that increase involvement of parents of all socioeconomic groups in the education of their children at all grade levels.
Early Childhood Education:
- Secure collaboration among a broad base of community organizations, social service agencies and the local school system to enhance the development of children from birth to age five to prepare them for success in kindergarten and beyond.
Evaluation of Teachers, Students and School Performance:
- Student evaluation should focus on student academic progress rather than rigid standards of proficiency.
- Student testing should be used for the purpose of enabling teachers to create timely teaching strategies for the best possible student academic achievement.
- Implement measures to improve the preparation, recruitment, professional development, and retention of quality educators.
- Teacher performance evaluations should demonstrate the teacher’s in-depth knowledge in core academic subjects and pedagogy.
- Teacher evaluations should be based on achievement of the goals in their performance evaluation plan, significant classroom observations, and some consideration of the overall student academic progress in the classroom. Termination of teachers and principals should follow a due process procedure when they do not meet minimum standards.
- Assessment of the school and teacher performance should demonstrate the overall quality of the education provided to the students and improvements in student academic growth as measured by multiple methods, not solely standardized tests.
Funding for Public Education (Adopted 1973; revised 1983, 1993, 2002, 2007, 2015)
A broadly based distribution formula should be used that takes into consideration differences in student need, teacher experience and qualification, the number of schools and students in a district, level of education, capital outlay, and transportation.
- Programs that foster children’s language development, from birth to age 5, for success in kindergarten and beyond should be adequately funded.
- The New Mexico Funding Formula should be used to achieve equality and to provide fair funding for every child based on need, regardless of location. There should be periodic review and modifications to assure that the formula is faithful to its original intention.
- Funding formulas should provide for a high quality education for all students and be consistently and fairly applied across the state.
- Local school districts should control the funds distributed to them by the state.
- The financial impact on traditional public schools must be evaluated before charters are granted or renewed.
- Funding to state-chartered schools should minimize the amount allocated for-profit management and business operations with oversight provided by state-approved auditors.
- All state and federal mandates should be funded so as not to place an undue burden on the local school system.
League of Women Voters of New Mexico
2315 San Pedro NE, (#F-6)
Albuquerque, NM 87110
505 884-8441 www.lwvnm.org firstname.lastname@example.org