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New Mexico education secretary welcomes DeVos visit


    Protesters gather outside Jefferson Middle School in Washington, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, where Education Secretary Betsy DeVos paid her first visit as education secretary in a bid to mend fences with educators after a bruising confirmation battle.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. >> New Mexico Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera “absolutely” would welcome a visit to any New Mexico school by newly confirmed U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a spokesman for Skandera said.

Robert McEntyre, a spokesman for the New Mexico Public Education Department, said Skandera would gladly host a visit from DeVos to visit any school or charter school in New Mexico — one of the poorest states in the nation.

But the state’s largest school district says its superintendent would have to check with parents and the school board first if DeVos sought to come to Albuquerque.

“If asked (Superintendent Raquel Reedy) would engage the Board of Education, schools, students, families and entire community before responding,” Albuquerque Public Schools spokeswoman Monica Armenta told The Associated Press.

Several dozen protesters gathered outside a southwest Washington, D.C., public school Friday where DeVos paid her first visit as education secretary. It was a bid to mend fences with educators after a bruising confirmation battle.

DeVos has previously worked to promote charter schools and school voucher programs, which her critics say would hurt public schools. She was confirmed for the job by the Senate on Tuesday by the narrowest possible margin, after two Republicans opposed her.

The U.S. Department of Education has not announced any visits outside of Washington, D.C.

Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica Garcia said she’d welcome an “honest dialogue” from DeVos on policy differences and a visit to a Santa Fe public school.

“I believe we must respect the office,” Garcia said. “Obviously, if the community and parents feel a need to show their concerns, it’s certainly their prerogative.”

Betty Patterson, president of the National Education Association in New Mexico, said the union would gladly provide DeVos with a list of New Mexico schools “for un-rehearsed visits” should she come to the state.

“She would see hard-working educators helping students succeed despite the lack of educational resources needed for our students,” Patterson said.

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  • Washington Post:
    “A Department of Education website explaining the rights of students under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has vanished. That’s the same law that confounded new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during her confirmation hearings.

    “DeVos dodged questioning about the law last month, insisting it was up to individual states on whether to grant disabled students their educational rights, even though it’s a federal law that applies across the nation.”

  • In the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 2015 ranking of 15 year old students in 72 countries, the US ranks 35th in math, 24th in reading, and 25th in science. This is based upon data from the Program for International Student Assessment. US student performance in math dropped by 8 positions since 2012.

    Meanwhile, US spending per pupil for secondary school ranked 5th internationally. This is behind Austria, Luxembourg, Norway, and Switzerland. This is based upon a 2014 OECD study.

    What’s wrong with this picture? Time for a new approach.

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