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Posted August 13, 2013

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APS Ready to Take on School Year

To those who say APS is status quo, we say “What?” or in Spanish “¿Qué? No Way!” Read Superintendent Winston Brooks’ column that ran in the Albuquerque Journal on Tuesday, Aug. 13.

Status Quo? ¿Qué? No Way!

Visit the webpage and download the 2013-14 APS Primer to read about some of our successes over the past few years and the plans we have for the future.

Superintendent Winston Brooks writes a monthly column for the Albuquerque Journal. This column ran on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013.

Status quo. It’s a popular catch phrase among critics of public education. It implies that those who have dedicated their lives to helping the next generation are satisfied with mediocrity, are in it for the paycheck, are dispassionate and uncaring.

Walk into an Albuquerque Public Schools classroom and you know that’s hardly the case. We’re dedicated to our profession. We appreciate the enormity of the task. We’re up for the challenge.

And it certainly is a challenge. Teaching children who face so many difficulties – mental, physical, language barriers, poverty and others – means personalizing education. It means a willingness to try new things, admit failure, regroup, start again.

It means anything but status quo. To those who say APS is status quo, we say “What?” or in Spanish “¿Qué? No Way!”

That’s our rallying cry for the 2013-14 school year. We’re not going to let our critics get us down. Instead, we’re going to celebrate our accomplishments, face our challenges and keep on improving.

We’re starting this new school year – my sixth as APS superintendent – on solid ground. Look at some of our recent academic achievements:

  • Eleven of our 13 comprehensive high schools improved their grades on the state A-to-F grading system in 2013, with six of those schools earning As and the rest getting Bs.
  • We’re implementing the Common Core State Standards in all grades this school year, providing a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.
  • More than 4,000 of our teachers are now trained to use the interactive whiteboards that are in half of our classrooms to enhance learning.
  • More than two dozen of our schools will offer AVID classes for students who need extra support completing college-prep work.
  • We’re providing more choices for our students, adding several high school programs this fall: a dual-credit school on the CNM campus, a full-time virtual school and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at Sandia High.
  • 6,500 students have taken 9,000 online classes since spring 2012.
  • More than 2,000 students took nearly 300 dual-credit courses in 2012-13, earning both high school and college credit.
  • More than 9,300 students took at least one honors or AP class in 2012-13, and more funding is available this year to increase the number of classes offered and students enrolled.
  • Nearly 400 of our teachers are National Board Certified. APS ranked fifth in the nation in the number of teachers earning the certification last year.

Like any professional organization, we’ve set some lofty goals for the coming year. Ultimately, we want every one of our students to succeed academically. But we also recognize that in order to reach that goal, we have to overcome some challenges in an ever-changing public education landscape:

  • We’ve got to continue working on closing the achievement gap so that all of our students have the support they need to improve their proficiency in reading and math.
  • We’ve got to do something about the truancy rate that’s rampant across the nation. Let’s face it, kids can’t learn if they’re not in school.
  • Our kids are taking more and more high-stakes tests and we’ve got to make sure they’re prepared to succeed.
  • In the face of growing competition, we need to offer our students more choices.
  • Some of our schools are bursting at the seams while others are woefully under-enrolled.
  • Teachers and other school employees have seen their paychecks shrink as the demands on them continue to grow. With the new teacher evaluation scheduled to begin this year, we are concerned that our hard-working employees will feel even more disenfranchised.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. And that’s just fine. It’s important work, and we’re ready to tackle another year.

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