Wanna Be a Principal But Hate New Mexico’s Evaluation System? Easy: Be a “Charter School Leader”

Just FYI as we go into 2015 (Happy 2015, Ya’ll!):  Burque Babble will, in an attempt to be less informative than ever before, be using Twitter @jscotkey a bit more and this blog a bit less (is it possible to be a “bit less” than zero?).  Shorter things haphazardly put together (i.e., my blog entries heretofore) with lots of links will tend toward Tweets with those links embedded, and I’ll save longer, equally haphazard, blog posts for commentary (i.e., ranting) extending past the 140 character limit.

For example, as we ramble toward “Testing Semester 2015:  Damien’s Revenge” with its ninety-eleven standardized tests (funny story:  we got information late last semester on our 8th Graders taking NAEP again this year…we’d forgotten all about NAEP, or at least I had…NAEP!  So quaint and so much now simply another toxic tree stump of useless to put atop the stinking bonfire that is “Testing Semester 2014:  Damien’s Revenge”)…

Now wait.  Where was that sentence going?  Let’s start again.

As we ramble toward Spring Semester, I’ve had a few chances to pleasantly check in from the tranquility of my South Valley Man Cave (SVMC) on the good ‘ol Public Education Department website for the State of New Mexico.  Why, you might ask, would I use up valuable Winter Break time doing this?  I’m sorry…I really don’t have an answer for you other than force of habit and a masochistic streak wider than the Suez Canal.  So, sitting in my indoor winter layering of thermals, more thermals and sweatpants, I’ve looked around the PED site from time to time to see if I missed anything, especially as I basically just called “bullshit” on PED’s recent “outreach overture” a week or so ago.

And no, as you probably already guessed, I didn’t really find much new information about anything.  EOCs?  Nothin’.  EOC passage rates from last year?  Zip.  Teacher VAM scores as they consist of data from SYs August 2013-May 2015?.  What, are you kidding?

I did, however, run across something fairly interesting on a topic I hadn’t really thought much about.  How are principals getting evaluated?  Having absolutely no interest myself in ever, EVER becoming a principal, I just figured they’d be evaluated the way they always have been, namely via vindictive “principal shuffling” and stories in the newspaper about horrible things they’ve done.

But no, there’s a “Summative School Leader Workbook” that outlines in 24-page .pdf detail the thorough and frankly somewhat bewildering evaluation process for our beloved public school principals.  The key in searching, by the way, is to use the term “school leader” instead of principal.  I guess PED/NM TEACH (the hatchet organization under whose name this stuff is often developed) uses “school leader” because some schools, particularly charter schools, don’t call their principal a “principal” because they are far too cool to do that.  Whatever.

Anyway, the Workbook details look quite a bit like the Teacher Evaluation System, with a few items specific to principals, regardless of the title you give ’em.  Things like whether one’s teacher observation scores mesh well with their standardized test score “Value-Added Measure” or VAM.  If you’re a principal giving observation scores out of whack with their VAM, you get dinged a bit for that (page 13, if you’re scoring at home).

And, somewhere (page 10, specifically) in those 24 pages of dense, bullet-filled, matrix-overladen rubricmaker’s wildest fantasy is the following statement under #7 in “Graduated Considerations” (remember that term, teachers?  It’s the catch-all for any calculation of scores differing from the original set-up; i.e., where they get to just make stuff up, basically):

7. Charter School – School Leader Charter school principals who report directly to their board are not evaluated under the EES system, but rather are evaluated by their board. If a charter school principal, however, reports to anyone other than directly to the board, that school leader would be evaluated under the NMTEACH Educator Effectiveness System and any applicable graduated considerations would apply.

So, in other words, you know all that VASTLY IMPORTANT DATA that PED is basing 50% of teacher and principal evaluations on, and THIS INCREDIBLE, INGENIOUSLY THOUGHT-OUT MATRIX of rubiriffic rubriocity that is the ALMIGHTY IMPORTANT BACKBONE in making true the PED motto of “Children First, New Mexico Wins!” a reality.  You know, that VASTLY IMPORTANT DATA AND MATRIX?

Well, it all don’t mean shit if you’re at a charter school. 

You don’t have to play PED’s game.  You’re exempt.

Instead, “School Leader,” just keep it buddy-buddy with the Board…Hell you probably picked half of ’em in the first place and, if not, they hired you and wouldn’t want to look like complete idiots in dumping you anyway.  Does the name Scott Glasrud come to mind?  If left up solely to “his” Board, Mr. Glasrud would still be running those schools, selling those no-bid contracts and making more money than entire staffs at some places.  He was cool like that.

But hey, New Mexicans, it’s okay.  They’re charter schools.  They deserve the special treatment of a “small school adjustment” here and a “don’t worry about Value-Added Measures” there.  It’s those “real” public schools we have to worry about.  Charters are the future and we just need to squeeze those “real” public schools a bit harder, and a bit harder and…

Therefore, if I ever was to get the rather pathological condition known as “Gotta be a Principal-itis,” I am making damn sure my applications and CV go only to New Mexico charter schools.  Well, while also seeking immediate medical and psychological treatment for my sure to be life-threatening condition.  Now if I could only find a doctor to cure me of the mental skin condition known as “Searching PEDariasis.”





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