Four schools. Change or die. That is the bully mantra coming out of Chris Ruszkowski’s mouth these days. The former Delaware DOE employee who is now the New Mexico Secretary of Education seems to have taken the Wilmington Priority Schools guidebook and foisted it on New Mexico.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, the four schools, three in Albuquerque, have until January 9th to make their decisions:
• Close the school and enroll students in other area schools that are higher performing.
• Relaunch the school under a charter school operator that has been selected through a rigorous state or local review process.
• “Champion” parents’ option to move their children into higher-performing charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning or homeschooling. This may also include the creation and expansion of state or local school voucher programs.
• Significantly restructure and redesign the school through steps like extending instructional time, changing the staff to include only top-rated educators or adopting state-selected curriculum approaches.
As usual, Ruszkowski fails to understand the reality of inner-city schools, just like he did in Wilmington, DE.
“For Albuquerque, this is a gut check moment,” Ruszkowski said. “Albuquerque talks a lot about equity and access, but when you have kids trapped in a failing school for six straight years, I don’t know what that means for equity and access.”
He questioned why APS hasn’t taken more action to improve these schools on its own, and said he expects the district will make excuses by citing the schools’ poverty rates and demographics.
Poverty is NOT an excuse. It is a reality for these students. Fat cats like Ruszkowski, who has never known poverty a day in his life, will never get that. But this is just the beginning for New Mexico because there are 86 other schools that could be in this position next year.
New Mexico is a PARCC state. The Smarter Balanced Assessment, the test used in Delaware, used to be the state assessment in NM but was changed to PARCC. Same demon, different name. This is like 2014 all over again, only it is in a different state. Ruszkowski’s pals at the Delaware DOE targeted six schools in Wilmington, DE with pretty much the exact same threats. Promised funding either never materialized or was drastically reduced. The state did not live up to what it promised in their forced coercion scenario.
I always assumed Penny Schwinn, the former Delaware accountability chief (now making waves in Texas) was the ringleader behind the Delaware Priority Schools fiasco but it appears now Ruszkowski may have played a heavy hand in that debacle. These fake, charter-loving “leaders” in public education are a destructive force, a wave of anti-matter ripping chaos through school buildings. I’m sorry my state created so many monsters and let them loose on the rest of the country.
In Delaware, two of those priority schools are part of a horrible plan invented by Delaware Governor John Carney’s office and the Christina School District. The Governor wants those schools to consolidate with other schools in the area but he is rushing the district into a decision. Their board voted 5-2 to have the Governor slow his roll. Many in Delaware feel this plan by the Governor is a smoke and mirrors scenario where the district will fight the plan to the point where Carney pulls a fast one and charterizes the schools.
Say some prayers for New Mexico. Putting a guy like Ruszkowski in the driver’s seat of education in a state is tantamount to giving a thief keys to your house. He is a result of Race To The Top, the very worst kind of result.