ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The man running Albuquerque Public Schools is getting some major attention for two strong words he recently used in an email to every teacher in the district: "Don't quit."
The plea comes as Superintendent Winston Brooks says district morale is about as low as it can go and he's blaming the state.
“Morale is not good,” said Brooks in a phone interview with News 13 on Tuesday.
Brooks recently penned the letter, which was sent to all teachers, that’s now been posted on an Albuquerque blog. He says he wrote it in response to a wave of complaints from teachers.
“There's just been a recurring feedback to me that teachers are at their wits end,” said Brooks.
So what’s behind the letter? Brooks says teachers are fed up with changes the state's made.
“I'd say 75 percent of it is directly related to the new evaluation system from PED,” said Brooks.
The new evaluation system took effect this school year. Some of the new rules include ranking half of a teacher’s performance on their students’ letter grade. Teachers are also scored on how many days they miss due to illness or any other problem. If teachers miss more than 10 days, state guidelines will label the teacher as “ineffective.” The new evaluation also will also be based on three student progress reports, the first of which will be taken in November.
The union representing many teachers in APS, the Albuquerque Teacher Federation, says the evaluations aren't fair.
“They know that they cannot win in the evaluation system that’s been imposed,” said Ellen Bernstein, president of the ATF.
Brooks agrees, saying he’s worried what the evaluation will mean for the district’s talent.
“I think many of the rules that we're being subjected to are being made people … that have never ever been a teacher and that's a huge concern of mine," said Brooks.
The union says it's a valid concern.
“Teachers have no objections to being evaluated fairly, but this is an unfair system, it's a political scheme, it has nothing to do with teachers feedback and making sure that they do the best job possible,” said Bernstein.
Many have their eyes on Oct. 22, the day some teachers in other state districts who have expressed dislike over the evaluations, are possibly planning to walk out of class because of the problem. Brooks says he hasn't heard of a walkout happening in Albuquerque yet, but says he doesn't support the idea.
Dozens of teachers are also expected to sound off on the new evaluations at an APS board meeting on Oct. 16. Several people who have helped implement state education reforms are expected to attend that meeting.
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