Letters to the editor (08/18/12)

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Better luck next year
Editor:
Recently, the results of the Standard Based Assessment test were released for last school year, 2011-12.
Amidst modest gains in some classes at both the elementary and middle school level in the Los Lunas, Belen and School of Dreams Academy districts, it would be generous to suggest that of all the Valencia County students only 55 percent are proficient in reading.
In math, less than half of students in Los Lunas Schools are proficient, while less than 42 percent of Belen and SODA achieved proficiency.
You have probably heard the old adage that in K-3, a child learns to read and from there on, reads to learn. Interestingly, in Belen Schools only 57.3 percent of last year’s third graders were able to read at a level of proficiency. Of the 42.7 percent who were not proficient, 19.5 percent weren’t even close.
The Los Lunas Schools third graders did worse, 53.5 percent were proficient, while 21.1 percent were far behind.
To make matters worse, virtually all of the kids who did not reach proficiency were advanced to the next grade level, some far enough behind that the likelihood of catching up is slim to none. The risk to the future of many of our kids is in grave jeopardy.
It may mean the difference between incarceration and a scholarship, or a life of dependency on government programs in lieu of a high paying career.
So, why do these results continue? Of course you will hear that there just isn’t enough money. That’s nonsense.
The state of New Mexico spends more per student ($9,384) than all bordering states, as well as Florida and California, while under-achieving every state in the union except Alaska and the District of Columbia.
It’s the parents fault: Parents, it is true that you are responsible to encourage and promote education in your household, but the taxpayers are paying the public schools to educate our kids and we all should expect far better than substandard results.
If you dig deeper into the test results, it becomes very clear that your child’s future is largely dependent on the quality of the classroom teacher.
In looking at the data, it becomes obvious that even though teachers’ paychecks are largely generic, classroom results vary greatly not only from one school to another, but from class to class in the same school.
The test results that are available to the public do not sort data by teacher, but it is easy to see that within our county, we have many great, dedicated and effective teachers to whom we owe our greatest admiration. At the same time, we apparently have many teachers who are ineffective.
In spite of the valiant efforts of Gov. Susan Martinez, Education Secretary-designee Hanna Skandera and other education reformers, it may take years to realize substantial improvement in the public schools.
Should Sen. Michael Sanchez continues to hold the seat of Senate majority floor leader, it could be decades.
The school districts and the politicians can merely hope for better luck next year, but the kids have only one chance to achieve proficiency at their respective grade level.
The risk of failure can be greatly reduced when concerned parents insist on seeing an objective measure of past performance data on their prospective teachers and insist upon the best teacher for their child.
When all parents begin to hold school principals accountable to provide an opportunity of excellence in all of their school classrooms, and hold their kids accountable to take advantage of that opportunity, only then will we begin to see excellence in public education.
Dennis Schlessinger
Los Lunas

Republican Party offers nothing
Editor:
The Republican Party across America has nothing whatsoever to offer the American voter.
Thus, their only recourse is to lie and cheat and try to steal the election.
Traitor Karl Rove is buying politicians and candidates — including lobbyist Heather Wilson — and the media outright because they offer themselves for sale to the highest bidder.
And the sheep still have no clue that the United States was declared a fascist state by the Supreme Court on Jan. 21, 2010.

G.E. Nordell
Belen

No tax hike if RC incorporates
Editor:
In response to the letter by Loretta Torres in the July 25 edition of the News-Bulletin, I recommend that Ms. Torres attend our Rio Communities public meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the Del Rio Senior Center.
She is obviously misinformed about the tax situation. The thing that needs to be emphasized is that there will be no tax increase by Rio Communities.
We are currently paying gross receipt taxes to the state. That money is distributed only to municipalities in the county. Since we are not a municipality, we receive none of that money. We are the largest unincorporated source of gross receipts in the county. We generate more than enough revenue to sustain our township.
We can easily afford our own police protection, our infrastructure maintenance and many other basic services already. In addition, as a municipality, we will qualify for many kinds of federal and state assistance that are unavailable to us now.
As a township, we do not have to beg for the county to protect us and to get around, at its convenience, to our improvement. We will have our own government, our own control of our destinies.
There is an alarming rise in crime in our area. We have 144 derelict homes, most of which have been broken into and looted. Practically all of our stolen vehicle and burglary cases remain unsolved.
The county sheriff’s office is simply spread too thin to help us effectively. Sometimes it takes an hour or so for a deputy to respond.
With our own police force, we will have a working police chief and two officers 24/7. We don’t have to raise taxes to accomplish this. Any Rio Communities taxation will be only by a vote of the residents.
Property taxes might go up, but not because of our township. It will be because the state will impose them as a result of the new budget submitted by the county. That raise will affect the entire county, not just Rio Communities.
Too many people have the knee-jerk response, “Our taxes will go up,” because they don’t understand how municipal funding works. That is why we need our residents to attend the public meetings about incorporation so that they can have the facts upon which to make their decision.
The reason that we have no grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store is because businesses prefer municipalities. They want the built-in protection and services provided there. Right now, we can offer nothing to these companies.
We are currently in the process of gathering incorporation petition signatures in order to get on the ballot for the November election. At that time, the residents can vote for or against the formation of our township.
The petition will merely show the Bureau of Elections that there is enough local interest to warrant a ballot petition. If the majority of us want to keep things they way they are now, so be it; but we need to have that determined officially.
Please attend the Aug. 21 meeting at the Del Rio Senior Center. All the facts will be presented, and you will have a chance to voice your concerns.
Rest assured that a tax increase is not necessary, not contemplated, and will not be allowed by our council unless citizens of our town want it.

Mark Gwinn
Rio Communities Association President