Teacher Seth Biderman related an interesting story in which he compared teacher evaluations as a tool for achieving peak performance with his experience with different coaching styles as a soccer player [School Re-Formed, July 17: “In the Flow”]. I found the comparison apt and would like to discuss my own take.
For starters, sports in this country are highly competitive (in many respects replicating the best features of a free market). Especially at the professional level, numbers are crunched and data are available on every player and coach. Pay is based strictly on merit in a very competitive and relatively transparent system. If you don’t perform, trades and firings are “part of the business.”
Contrast that with education, where competition, transparency and pay for performance are truly lacking. Who are the best teachers in New Mexico? How should we measure performance in the classroom? What should the best teachers be paid? While Biderman is confident that “nearly all teachers want to be great,” the reality is that teaching is far less transparent than sports in separating top performers from mediocre and poor ones.
Also, while competition and accurate data are lacking in education, we do know that New Mexico’s education performance is lacking. We’re certainly not the New York Yankees or Real Madrid.
I’d like to see New Mexico adopt a few ideas from sports to improve education. Competition in the form of school choice is easily the most powerful tool, but evaluations based on student improvement and pay-for-performance must be considered as well.
Rio Grande Foundation President
Food for Thought
I was struck and dismayed by the commentary of Mr. C Maurus Chino, Acoma Tribe, as he “hammered away” at La Conquistadora and our Spanish ancestors, and in such a poor rendering of our NM Spanish history [opinion, July 10: “Whose Hero?”]. Mr. Chino, I am certain, is not a historian. And he, being from Acoma Pueblo, would be one of those Puebloans to tell this type of sad telling of our history—as those who occasionally take the time to visit Acoma and take the tour to their mesa-top pueblo, they get an earful of the “Conquistadores.” Mr. Chino should read the book Po’Pay: Leader of the First American Revolution, edited by Joe S Sando and Herman Agoya. Mr. Sando (now deceased) was a Jemez Pueblo historian, scholar, educator, lecturer and tribal leader. He wrote and lectured with the sense and knowledge of a true Native American historian and scholar, which he was. In Po’Pay, he discusses both good and bad regarding the Spanish colonization of NM, and goes on to write “...despite their tribulations, the Pueblos were fortunate that it was Spaniards who colonized this area, because the Pueblo people were granted full citizenship and rights to their lands. In addition, they were included under the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty, which protected the Spanish land grants to the Pueblos. After the Americans settled the area, however, the Pueblos lost much of their land through the Homestead Act, and the Taylor Grazing act...however, the Pueblos are still today living where the Spanish invaders found them, while other Indian Tribes, which met the English, French and Russians were moved to much less desirable areas and lost much of the language and native religion“ and “...an even more significant result of the Pueblo Revolt...is the Pueblos are the last of North America’s original natives to retain their languages and religious practices...as compared to the tribes suppressed by the English, French and Russians. The 1980 Census first called attention to this fact.” Mr. Chino also goes on to misstate other facts, such as that of the 90 indigenous pueblos at the time of the Spanish invasion, only 19 survived(?). I say to Mr. Chino: where are your references/citations?—as Mr. Sando cites two full pages of references. Also, I guess Mr. Chino does not know that Spanish King Charles V, in 1530, had prohibited enslavement of the American Indians, and the Spanish laws of the time mandated “pacification” of natives vs. conquest. These facts, and others, Mr. Chino, can be food for thought at any future round-table gathering.
In response to Stuart H Barger’s letter [opinion, July 10: “Offense Taken”], I just have to say, “Hell Yeah! Right on! Go Stuart! You are absolutely, positively, 100 percdent correct! Thank you for setting this thing straight!!!”
People can become so absolutely blinded by their religions. It leads to spiritual impoverishment, not spiritual enrichment.