New Mexico’s Public Education Department is working on a plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, and held the last of a series of regional meetings Tuesday in Las Cruces to get input from various stakeholders.

New Mexico First helped facilitate regional meetings for New Mexico’s Public Education Department. Pamela Blackwell, Economic Policy Director for New Mexico First says town halls are important to hear from stakeholders.

“They are meant to solicit input from the public,” Blackwell said. “Teachers, administrators, parents, families, business leaders, on how to best implement the Every Student Succeeds Act, and what we can do to implement that for each community.”

David Morales, a Las Cruces Teacher and New Mexico’s 2016 Teacher of the Year everyone in the community should have a voice.

“I think this is an important first step,” Morales said. “I think if the Public Education Department takes this and back and listens to all the contributors, I think they can see a good swath of who their stakeholders are.”

As a teacher, Morales wants to see more time spent finding innovative ways to educate.

“I’d like to see teachers have a little bit more autonomy,” Morales said. “And also have a little more time to plan and collaborate with their peers, so that we can develop fuller more richer lessons for our kids.”

Teresa Tenorio says she’d like to see better communication with parents, and had trouble finding information for this meeting.

“I feel like the information isn’t mainstreamed,” Tenorio said. “It’s difficult to access, they wanted us to register, and when I did it didn’t show up. I think that’s very intimidating to parents.”

Tenorio says she’s also concerned about the amount of testing her young daughter has to take.

“As the parent of a first grader,” Tenorio said. “They’re already starting testing in grades K-3, and that a lot of parents don’t even know how often that it, and that it’s become a culture that probably turns the kids off to what they’re real interests are.”

Pamela Blackwell with New Mexico First says they’ve heard many similar concerns across the state.

“There are a lot of similar concerns,” Blackwell said. “As far as teacher evaluations, and how those are communicated, and how to best use those to inform instruction. That’s a huge piece. Also, parents and student support, how to help further engage parents in the education process and how to help guide their students. Also coursework, there has been more of an emphasis in these meeting on vocational education, as a key to student success.”

Blackwell says in addition to concerns they also heard innovative solutions.

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