We Don’t Need No Education: What makes Santa Fe Public Schools, with its 50 percent graduation rate, look good? Española Military Academy! The New Mexico Public Education Department has yanked EMA’s charter and ordered it to close at the end of this school year, according to an appeal filed on April 3 by EMA in the First Judicial District Court.
Among the state’s findings: Five EMA staff members lacked the necessary licenses; the headmaster’s sister was hired without authorization; the school failed to meet state curriculum standards; and no neighboring schools had scores as low as EMA’s. In the current school year, a state investigator found “less than 2 percent of all EMA students were proficient in math and only 32 percent of its students were proficient in reading.” Furthermore, at two grade levels at EMA, no students tested proficient. The state suggests EMA students be transferred to Española public schools.
We Don’t Need No Thought Control: Readers may recall the controversy around “brain education,” a body-jiggling, brain-fuzzing technique promoted by the Dahn Yoga organization, which some people characterize as a cult. SFR has learned New Mexico Voices for Children held a youth workshop in Albuquerque on March 28 that included a “brain education” session. The training program was funded by the New Mexico Department of Health’s tobacco prevention program. Rasa Herzog, the Voices for Children program manager who organized the day’s trainings, did not immediately return a cell phone message.
Let’s Dance: Last week, the City of Santa Fe’s Public Works Committee moved forward with a $285,000 contract with the National Dance Institute of New Mexico to plan, design and construct an expansion to a dance studio and storage space for use with educational programs. A state grant will pay for the project. NDI was co-founded by Catherine Oppenheimer, wife of investment magnate Garrett Thornburg, whose local property tax break SFR covered last week. Thornburg also serves on NDI’s board. David Chapman, the city’s public works grant writer, did not immediately return a cell phone message.
I, Me, Mine: US Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, has sponsored a bill to reform an 1872 mining law that allows hard rock mining on federal lands without royalty payments. Bingaman’s reform calls for royalty payments between 2-5 percent. Taxpayers could gain, but the senator could lose. In the last election cycle, Intrepid Potash, which has a mine outside Carlsbad, was Bingaman’s 16th largest donor, with $11,400 in individual contributions.