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Who Gets Credit or Blame for Education Who gets credit -- or blame -- for education


Silver City resident David Gershenson, who works from his
home as an agent and manager for nationally known
entertainers, has two children in the public school system in
Grant County.

Gershenson said he isn't familiar with all the changes in
education made during the tenure of Gov. Bill Richardson, but
he believes the primary factor in the management of
education is a flawed "No Child Left Behind" law which was
pushed by President George W. Bush.

"I don't know that there are any major impacts by the New
Mexico government," he said Sunday. "The federal
government is the overriding factor with the No Child Left
Behind law, which I see as leaving every child behind. It has to
do with our fearless leader. I think it's insane that programs
have been mandated without the funding."

Gershenson believes school districts have had to cut
programs because of the federal law.

"It's very, very sad," he said. "For example, physical education
is no longer mandatory. But I don't think this is anything the
New Mexico Legislature has done."

As another example of problems at the federal education level
trickling down to local districts, Gershenson cited a recent
parent-teacher conference he attended.

"We just had this past week, parent-teacher conferences, and
it was a joke," he said. "All it was, was them doing the
paperwork to comply with the No Child Left Behind mandates.
We learned nothing as parents."

What he did get, he noted, were some test results as to
whether the high school's students were achieving,
overachieving or below set criteria.

"But we met with people who were not our kids' teachers," he
said."There was no feedback on what was really happening.
We just saw a bunch of statistics. That's one of the problems
with measuring achievement without real feedback.The
teachers apologized for it, because they realized everyone
was just spinning their wheels. It wasn't really about the

But Gershenson doesn't blame the governor.

"I don't think its Richardson or the state Legislature," he said.
"There are programs they had to cut because of mandated
programs and expenses they don't have the money for. You
can't mandate programs and then not give them the money to
do it."

Gershenson believes the problem is systemic at the national

"It's part of the incompetency of our national guidance or lack
thereof," he said. "It's of great concern to me because I have a
freshman and sophomore in school. I don't know what, if
anything, the governor or state Legislature can do about it.
They are trumped by federal law."

But as for grading the governor on education, Gershenson
said he would give Richardson a good report card.

"It sounds like they are trying on a state level to correct the
inadequacies and mistakes of federal mandates," he said. "In
that regard, the governor gets tremendously high marks.
Locally, I just read that we're getting another $500,000
because enrollment is up, so that's a good thing. And God
knows I'm in favor of giving raises, but at the same time, if
that means cutting back on programs and education -- who

Valerie McArthur of Silver City has two children of her own in
school, one child in the seventh grade and another in fifth
grade. Both children began their academic lives at a private
Christian school, but three years ago, McArthur and her
husband enrolled their children in the public school system so
the kids would have an opportunity to participate in
extracurricular activities not available at the private school.

But last year, after only two years in the public school system,
McArthur changed her mind and re-enrolled her children at
Agape Christian Academy, where she now teaches.

"The class sizes were too large," she said. "They're not hiring
enough teachers to make it a smaller (student-to-teacher)
ratio. There's not really any one-on-one time for any child.
Like Jacob, my son, went hours without doing any work
because there was no one to direct him. There are not enough
teacher aides and they don't have enough money to hire
enough aides."

McArthur said her decision to re-enroll her children in a
private school was based on the overall quality of education.
Agape's average classroom size is five students. The school is
primarily funded through tuition paid by parents -- about
$150 per month, per student.

"If you're not getting the right education, it doesn't matter if
you're not getting sports or other activities," she said.
can be reached at tbaird@scsun-news.com

— Thomas J. Baird Thomas J. Baird
Silver City Sun-News


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