New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez on School Grades, Social Promotion and Teacher Policy

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

New Mexico has released their first official A-F school report cards. They have more Fs than As, more Ds than Bs. Given New Mexico’s current standing near the bottom of the rankings on NAEP, that sounds about right. In the clip above, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez explains why they adopted letter grades, and the next steps she would like to see for reform.

Congratulations to Governor Martinez and New Mexico’s education reformers. Far more remains to be done than has been done to date, but school grading represents a critical first step which reformers can build upon in order to create a more effective system of public education.

9 Responses to New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez on School Grades, Social Promotion and Teacher Policy

  1. allen says:

    Of course the question now is “what to do about it?”

    Probably summary execution’s not in the cards although it does have historical precedent the Roman practice of “decimation” for low-performing units being one example. But we live in a vitiated age and such a robust solution probably isn’t politically feasible.

    Does New Mexico have any institutional “next step” in the face of failure? What happens to the schools that get “F”s a couple of years in a row?

    I assume the old practice of simply ignoring rotten schools forever isn’t quite as practical as it once was? Determining whether schools suck, and announcing whether they do, certainly suggests that indifference is no longer the policy solution it once was.

  2. matthewladner says:


    That is a logical question to ask, and I discussion that I would expect to hear going forward.

  3. And a lack of indifference is the best first step, and deciding what to do is the next. Gov. Martinez has indicated the initial directions she seeks. All must be able to read by the end of 3rd grade without social promotion. Top teachers need to be rewarded.

    Now, PLEASE, leave the school sites responsible for how to improve themselves. All you non-teachers keep your noses out of their business. Its the public’s job to point out when things aren’t working. Let the people in the trenches figure out how to fix things. They know what solutions to avoid that you don’t.

    • allen says:

      Sorry Joe but a bit more’s got to be done then just putting teachers in charge.

      A teacher may, or may not, give a damn about a child but that child’s parent(s) are much more likely to be positively obsessed with the child’s welfare and education. If parents don’t hold the hammer, deciding on the continued existence of a school, then their concerns aren’t represented and that’s the nature of the current system. The smaller the role of “the public” the better.

      • Your second paragraph does not make sense to me.

        Re-1st Paragraph: The MORE that needs to be done needs to be done at the site level with colaboration between parents-teachers-administrators. Note: I NEVER SAID, just put the teachers in charge.

      • allen says:

        “Now, PLEASE, leave the school sites responsible for how to improve themselves. All you non-teachers keep your noses out of their business.”

        That’s what you wrote. If non-teachers must keep their noses out of the business of the schools then that really doesn’t leave too many people other then teachers to keep their noses in the business of schools.

        As to my second paragraph, if parents are in charge, by virtue of their option to patronize a particular school or not, there *will* be collaberation between the parents, teachers and administrators.

        Schools which are indifferent to the concerns of parents and treat them in a high-handed manner, and presumably their children as well, aren’t likely to be bastions of collaboration either. They’re also not likely to survive. Treat parents badly and it’s not likely you treat the kids any better.

  4. I left out, “It’s the public policy makers crappy decision that got schools into their messes to begin with. Teachers have been holding the culture together with string, paper clips and tape while parents and administrators have played my lawyer can beat your lawyers.”
    BTW-Kids of divorce, in general, don’t learn as well as kids from intact families. Want to know why we don’t produce students as learned as we did 40 years ago. Start looking there. (Oh no. We can blame them!)

  5. Falcon9 says:

    Now the challenge is to track the results of the A through F states by their NAEP scores. I have a suspicion that they will underperform the nation. The A-F scoring does not have the academic gains for kindergarten through 3rd grade. When you are not tracking the most important piece of the pie, systems theory would tell me that your scoring system will induce failure, not success.

  6. matthewladner says:


    Broadly speaking I agree that the job of state lawmakers should be to put a broad policy framework in place that incentivizes strong performance without attempting to micromanage schools.


    Creating standards for the promotion of 3rd grade students leads to a great deal of focus and tracking in K-3, so I hope NM lawmakers will go in that direction. Note however that Florida managed to realized substantial gains before implementing that policy, after A-F.

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