Fall is arriving in our state and it marks the change of seasons that we often look forward to that includes the finish of local fairs, football, volleyball, and cross country seasons (to name a few). This year, after our last year and a half of significant interruptions from COVID sequestration and interruption, we are beginning to see a very slow return to what we consider “normalcy”. As I go around New Mexico and visit you, I am encouraged by the level of commitment each of you is showing in your management of the challenge of providing each of our students with those life experiences that form the backdrop of their childhood memories.
It is sobering to realize that this year’s second graders have not even known what “normal school” looks like, nor have they realized the full scope of what being with, playing with, and learning with their peers can be under “normal” circumstances. Each of you is an important part of that “new normal” that is being created in each of our schools today. Thank you for the care, effort, and good intentions you are bringing to this challenge. Sally Marquez, Executive Director of the NMAA puts it best when in every presentation she makes, she states: “We are playing!”
As I have attended meetings of the Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC) and the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) I am struck with the importance of our clear and concise communications about this “new normal” as we are challenged to define what our practice and strategies will be as we return and deal with the impacts of the limitations for learning that we have been navigating over the last year and a half. It is clear to me that they are seeking to understand our best operating parameters for emerging from this “past” and what are the wisest ways to invest in the “future” of public school education.
My fear is that, as we move towards the Legislative Session, we will be embattled in the struggle of that definition of the “future”. Will we add “seat time” or will we more clearly define determining student growth through metrics of competency and growth. Will we add, days, or hours, or different learning activities, or will we transform our educational process to reflect real student learning.
What I do know, is that each of you is at the core of our opportunity and that how each of you reacts, design, and interact will be pivotal to our future success. The future depends on you!