News, March 6: “PED Crossing”
Just Say No
Please follow the money. [Public Education Department Secretary-designate Hanna] Skandera is being wooed by nonprofits that front for big corporations who want contracts for textbooks and the related consumable products, testing materials (which cost a bundle) and everything else school-related. These trips are not for “official duty,” they are to promote a specific agenda for schools, period. This agenda is keen on charter schools, which don’t have [to] be accountable for special education, English Language Learners or students with special needs. This agenda wants to hire young, inexperienced teachers, who use teaching as a stepping stone to other careers and usually don’t stay in one location for very long. This agenda labels students as products, teachers as changeable cogs and parents as pesky bystanders—is that how the new normal looks?

Finally, this agenda hasn’t been proven to effectively “fix” schools or school districts! The studies show that this agenda is actually devastating for students, parents, teachers and communities —look at New York City charter schools and Chicago for proof. No to Skandera and no to her propaganda trips.

Carlyn Wade
Santa Fe

Cash Train
Hanna Skandera is a paid shill from out of state, a willing accomplice in educational “reform” that funnels state and federal money to private companies whose only interest in education is the profit they can make. It’s all a big money circle, with the needs of children thrown under the wheels of the testing-textbook-test-preparation cash train. There is absolutely no reason the citizens of New Mexico should stand for her continued occupation of the Public Education Department.

Randy Barron

Head Change
The [subhead] for your article [cover, Feb. 27: “SOS”], “Can anyone fix Social Security’s Broken benefits system?”, was very misleading. I assumed you were repeating the Republican lies that the SS system is broken, when in fact you were discussing the DDS (Disability Determination Services) and its dysfunction.
Your title should have said, “Can anyone fix the Disability Determination Services of Social Security.” People merely reading your headline without reading the article will be further misled about the viability of Social Security. As for the causes of this dysfunction in DDS, it is very apparent that Congress, especially Republicans, prefer to make people suffer so they can save a little money that would be used to hire adequate numbers of adjudicators. Also, if most claims are rejected at the initial stage, but approximately 80 percent are granted at the third and final stage, why not skip the second and third stages and just qualify them at stage one?  This would save countless hours of DDS employee time and two years of applicants’ suffering.

Susan McGrew
Santa Fe

Job Well Done
I have to give credit where it is due [movies, March 6: “Up Yours”]. David Riedel’s latest review on 56 Up is, in my opinion, quite well-done. He states his opinion about the film critically, telling something about its cultural context; how it succeeds and fails in its goals; and why we should go see it. In doing this, he allows the reader into his writing, and this is essential to a good review. The reader has to feel welcome, not excluded, and Riedel has done the job.

Steve Kostelecky

Dereliction of Duty
The county got off light [, March 6: “Former Inmate, Left in Solitary Confinement, Settles for $15.5M”].  Mr. Slevin now needs to sue for interest charges and to make sure this settlement is paid to his survivors, should he pass soon.

Trade places with Mr. Slevin and see what you think it’s worth!  All corrections officials involved should spend at least 10 years in  [the] prison general population for their dereliction of duty.


Drunk with Power
I think the [Gov. Susana Martinez] administration is drunk with power and just doesn’t care anymore [, Feb. 7: “Gov’s Office Wrongly Responded to SFR’s Public Records Request, AG Says”].  I laugh when I think about all the promises on the campaign trail that things would be different than [former Gov. Bill] Richardson. She’s just as bad, if not worse, and I used to really like her.


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