Special election still a toss up

By Angela Peacock

With only six days until the Sept. 23 statewide special election Quay County educators share mixed beliefs about voting to approve the two educational amendments.

Voting “yes” on the amendments isn’t even a question for Tucumcari Elementary School teachers Martha O’Rear, Ruth Ann Litchfield and Norrie Maciel. They all believe Amendment One will establish a better sense of accountability in terms of educational issues if a secretary of education has to answer directly to the governor.

“We’ve always been in need of a secretary of education,” Litchfield said. “I want the public to think long and hard about how they want our state to be rated nationally in terms of education.”

O’Rear and Litchfield agree asking the state to accept a raise to 5.8 percent for the Land Grant Permanent Fund isn’t too much to ask. Both said they recall a time when New Mexico was near the top for teacher pay.

“In years past they were getting as much as 9.2 percent so asking for 5.8 will be doing nothing but great things for education,” O’Rear said. “I’m definitely for Amendments One and Two.”

Maciel agrees with her co-workers and added how vital it is that New Mexicans understand how technologically in advanced the states schools are compared to other areas of the nation.

“New Mexico needs to catch up with the 21st century. We’ve came a long way in the last few years (in terms of technology,) but we still have a very long way to go,” said Maciel, explaining others some areas of education that need to addressed. “New Mexico needs to become competitive with the rest of the nation in teacher pay and funding for educational programs.”

In complete opposition of amendments One and Two House High School math and history teacher Mike Patton said before people cast their votes during the Sept. 23 election he wants them to strongly question why the governor wants to place so much power in his office, and why he wants to put educational funds at his disposal.

“Creating a secretary of education is giving the governor more power than I would like to see him have,” said Patton, stressing why he’s so against Amendment Two. “Once the state gets into educational funds it will be placed into the bureaucrats hands and it will disappear.”

Though Logan Schools Superintendent Carolyn Franklin never said she was dead set against the amendments she did comment her concerns over the upcoming election.

“We’re providing the teachers at Logan with as much information as possible but I still think they’re unsure right now,” Franklin said. “We want to improve our schools and educational reforms but are we cutting our own throats by passing these amendments and them cutting funds elsewhere later?”

Franklin said with 15 members on the New Mexico State Board of Education it is sometimes difficult to get things accomplished, but said she’s not too sure Amendment Two would be equally beneficial to smaller schools.

“With 10 elected members (on the state school board) at least there is representation from all across the state which prevents small schools and schools on the east side of the state from being dictated to by one person out of Santa Fe,” Franklin said.

Since Amendment Two doesn’t clearly state that the Permant Land Grant Fund will not take away from other monies already allotted to New Mexico schools Franklin said she’s not yet convienced to vote “yes.”

“6.7 billion dollars was set aside for schools in the first place so I do have a problem with someone saying we can’t use this money for schools,” Franklin said. “It’s a pretty big endowment when we are in desperate need of funding.”