Thursday News Roundup: NM Teachers Object To Evaluation System

Nov 21, 2013

NM Teachers Object To Evaluation System - Associated Press

Unions representing teachers and other educational employees organized protests Wednesday against a teacher evaluation system by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration that heavily bases ratings on student performance on standardized tests.

National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers encouraged teachers to wear black and participate in rallies across the state.

About 100 people gathered in Santa Fe outside of the building housing the Public Education Department. One person carried a placard, "Stop Blaming Teachers."

Educational union officials contend that a heavy reliance on student testing is hurting educators rather than helping students.

Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera defended the evaluation system Wednesday in testifying to a legislative panel but said she was open to "tweaks and changes" to improve it.

State Police Pay Overhaul Could Cost $11M - Associated Press

A new report says it will cost nearly $11 million to increase pay for New Mexico State Police officers to make their salaries competitive with other law enforcement agencies.

A private consultant's study for the Department of Public Safety found 10 other law enforcement agencies, including police in Albuquerque, Hobbs, Las Cruces and Santa Fe, pay higher starting salaries than the $18.21 hourly rate for a State Police patrolman.

The pay study was outlined Wednesday to the Legislative Finance Committee, which will make spending recommendations to next year's Legislature.

Public Safety Secretary Gorden Eden told lawmakers that pay differences make it difficult to recruit and retain State Police officers.

Gov. Susana Martinez's administration hasn't decided on a pay increase proposal to recommend to lawmakers.

New Mexico Finance Authority Hires New CEO - Associated Press

A financing agency for New Mexico governments has selected a Texas financial official as its top administrator.

The governing board of the New Mexico Finance Authority on Wednesday approved Robert Coalter as its CEO. Coalter has been executive director of the Texas Public Finance Authority since 2012, and worked for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts from 1991 to 2011.

Former state budget director John Gasparich has been interim CEO since last year when Rick May was fired after the discovery that a financial audit had been faked.

NMFA ex-controller Greg Campbell pleaded guilty to forgery and securities fraud.

The New Mexico authority uses bond proceeds to provide low-cost loans to cities, counties, schools and other governmental organizations for capital improvements.

Coalter's starting date and salary is to be negotiated.

Feds Hold Public Hearing On Wolf Proposals - Associated Press

Future management of the federal government's troubled effort to return Mexican gray wolves to the Southwest is the focus of a public hearing in Albuquerque.

Hundreds of environmentalists, landowners and others have packed Wednesday night's hearing.

They're commenting on a pair of proposals that will determine how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moves forward with the program.

One proposal calls for listing Mexican wolves as an endangered subspecies and delisting gray wolves elsewhere. The other proposal would revise a rule that classifies Mexican wolves as an experimental population.

Wolf supporters say wildlife managers haven't done enough to help the wolves repopulate parts of Arizona and New Mexico. But ranchers oppose any plans that would expand the program and where the wolves could be released.

Authorities Raid Unregulated Race Track In NM - Associated Press

State and federal law enforcement officers say they have busted a horse track that was running illegal races in central New Mexico.

New Mexico State Police, the Valencia County Sheriff's Department and agents with Homeland Security Investigations served a search warrant at the facility just outside of Los Lunas on Wednesday morning.

It's believed to be the largest unregulated track in the state, and authorities say races had been going on there for years.

Wednesday's search stemmed from a yearlong undercover investigation into illegal gambling at the site. Authorities say they also saw alcohol and possibly drugs being sold at the races.

Authorities say two arrest warrants have been issued in connection with the sting.