Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education
23May/19Off

CESE Annual Meeting to feature Dr. Karen Trujillo, Secretary of Education

Save the date! On June 1st, 2019 from 1:30 to 4:30, CESE will hold its 23rd annual meeting. The keynote speaker is Karen Trujillo, Ph.D., New Mexico's new Secretary of Education. The topic of her talk is: "A Shared Vision of Student Opportunities for Success in New Mexico". The meeting will be held at the Anthropology Lecture Hall, Room 163 at the Maxwell Museum on the University of New Mexico. See you there!

10May/19Off

CESE’s Graduation Rate Analysis

Graduation rates have been touted as one of the indicators that the previous eight years of New Mexico education “reforms” have been working.  But, when taking a closer look at the actual data, this is really not so clear.  The following short briefing by M. Kim Johnson addresses the veracity of increasing graduation rates compared to student performance on standardized tests.

10May/19Off

The May 2019 CESE Beacon has been published!


The May 2019 Beacon (XXI, No. 2) is now available! It includes a President’s Message, Legislative Session Summary, Science Fair Winners, In Memoriam, and a Toon from Thomas.

President Ken Whiton writes "The 2019 Annual Meeting of The Coalition For Excellence In Science And Math Education will be held Saturday, June 1st. As in the past several years, we will be meeting in the Anthropology Lecture Hall, Room 163 in the Maxwell Museum on the University of New Mexico campus. We are pleased to announce that this year’s speaker will be Dr. Karen Trujillo, Secretary of Public Education for New Mexico. Dr. Trujillo has chosen as her topic, “A Shared Vision of Student Opportunities for Success in New Mexico."

The 2019 Legislative Session Summary: Education Bills with Significant Impact
It was a busy legislative session. Governor Lujan Grisham signed 282 bills (according to KOAT TV in Albuquerque). Of these, 61 (22%) involve the Public Education Department (PED) or affect K-12 education. Thirty-one bills that involve higher education (11%) and 48 (17%) affect children, state retirement, and professional certifications. These do not include all the bills that may have a peripheral or minimal impact or those bills that are annually connected, such as the budget bill. Read the full article.

This issue of the Beacon, along with every other issue, can be found on CESE's Beacon Page.

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31Jan/19Off

The January Beacon is Here!

The latest issue of the CESE Beacon, for January 2019, has arrived!

President Ken Whiton writes "This issue of The Beacon features the work of three insightful authors, all teachers. Confused by PARCC, EOCs, Common Core and NGSS? Then Lisa Durkin's ’s article, “Disentangling Test Talk,” is a must-read. Anyone wanting to improve education in New Mexico should read this issue's article by Jessica Apgar and Jesse Chenven, “Beyond More Money: How to Support and Retain Quality Teachers in NM.” In this article, you will learn where we have progressed, where our system has failed our students, parents and educators, and how to find a path forward."

This issue of the Beacon, along with every other issue, can be found on the CESE Beacon Page.

18Dec/18Off

Secretary of education needs these 9 qualities

The Coalition For Excellence In Science And Math Education (CESE) is a 501c(3) non-partisan entity.

Ken Whiton, President of the Coalition For Excellence In Science And Math Education and retired teacher

We’ve had almost 8 years of turmoil in New Mexico education. Brushing aside all the manipulated statistics and grandstanding, New Mexico’s education system still ranks at, or near, the bottom of all the states in educational achievement. The leadership of the Public Education Department and their agenda have failed us, not our schools or teachers.

We can do better – we must do better. Let’s describe an ideal Secretary of Education.

The new NM Secretary of Education must:

1) Be a true leader, inspiring, validating, encouraging and collaborating with all our teachers, school staff, principals, administrators and district leadership with a vision of what we can be. This means telling the truth at all times instead of constantly issuing self-serving press releases. We need someone who is more interested in New Mexico’s children than in padding a resume hoping to step up to a better job.

2) Defend public education. Approximately 90% of students in America attend public schools. Those students, parents and educators deserve strong support and advocacy.

3) Lead by example. Be a graduate of an accredited College of Education with a minimum of a Masters Degree and a 3.0 or better, GPA. Most teachers have a Masters Degree and many have PhDs. Anyone expecting to lead an education system must have those minimal credentials as a scholar and be a lifelong learner.

4) Have the training to accurately understand data collection and its limitations and uses. One or two college level courses in statistics and their application are essential. In today’s data-driven world, this knowledge is required for fully understanding what works and doesn’t work in any teacher evaluation and school grading system. These tasks cannot be understood or delegated to others without a basic knowledge of statistics and how to use them. Claiming to be data-driven isn’t enough. One must understand what constitutes real data.

5) Foster respect for science. New Mexico is a leader in science. Students should be encouraged to take advantage of this world-class expertise. There isn’t room for pseudoscience, watered-down science, or science tainted by anyone’s personal belief system.

6) Have a minimum of five years of teaching experience in a public school classroom. This is the only way to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to capably fill any administrative position. On the most basic level, successfully managing a classroom and successfully managing adults both require the same communication and people skills. One of the most primary of those is treating everyone with respect.

7) Believe that an important part of “treating everyone with respect,” involves transparency and accessibility. Secrecy and “stonewalling” are out. Transparency and accessibility will be in.

8) Find out why we have a crisis in education and work to find remedies. Enrollment in colleges of education is down and our educators are leaving our state or leaving education entirely. This is according to a study by The New Mexico State University College of Education Southwest Outreach Academic Research Lab, as reported in the Albuquerque Journal, November 4, 2018.

9) Be recognized by students, parents, teachers and administrators, as a superior teacher and leader. This recognition goes far beyond student test scores and teacher evaluations. It asks, is this person a great teacher? Can this person lead others?

When our new governor takes office on January 1, 2019, we hope she will give New Mexico’s children, parents and educators a fresh start with a new Secretary of Education, a qualified candidate who will, beginning on day one, truly listen to parents, teachers, other professional licensed staff, principals and school administrators. Let’s begin a meaningful dialogue that will help all of us feel valued and respected.

These actions will go a long way toward improving morale in public schools that has been steadily deteriorating over the last several years. They will give our students the skills they need to thrive and succeed in today’s rapidly changing world.

Published on December 17th, 2018 in the Albuquerque Journal.

Read more CESE Op-eds here.

27Sep/17Off

CESE Op – Eds Online

From our CESE Op - Eds and News page, some relevant articles by our own Ken Whiton!

Ruszkowski faces myriad challenges as head of PED
By Ken Whiton / Albuquerque resident
Monday, August 7th, 2017

Gov., Skandera, Journal just don’t get it on evals
By Ken Whiton / Albuquerque resident
Thursday, June 12th, 2014

6Aug/17Off

New CESE Officers Announced

Picture shows CESE luncheon at Jessica McCord's house, August 5th 2017

It's official, the new CESE Slate has been approved by the membership!

Here are the CESE officers for 2017-2018:

  • Past President: Jessica McCord
  • President: Jesse Johnson
  • Vice President/President elect: Ken Whiton
  • Treasurer: Steve Brugge
  • Secretary: Dave Thomas
  • Board Members At Large:

    • Rebecca Reiss
    • Lisa Durkin
    • Jack Jekowski
    • Kim Johnson
    • Marilyn Savitt-Kring
    • Cindy Chapman
    • Terry Dunbar
12Jun/14Off

Skandera, Journal Just Don’t Get It on Teacher Evaluations

Ken WhitonKudos once again to CESE Past President Ken Whiton for yet another stirring editorial in the June 12th, 2014 issue of the Albuquerque Journal (link). Ken's latest op-ed is titled "Gov., Skandera, Journal just don’t get it on evals."

Here follows Ken's letter.  Well said, Ken!

What more can a teacher do when a student, in spite of the teacher’s best efforts, still doesn’t “get it?” The teacher has tried every tool in the toolbox, every technique, every “best practice,” but still no comprehension.

Finally, the teacher realizes the student is refusing to learn the material, no matter how well it is presented. Instead of listening, the student dismisses everything the teacher says, refuses to listen to valid criticism, makes excuses and rejects any information that contradicts the student’s preconceived notions.

Please reread the above two paragraphs and replace the word “student,” with the phrase, “Our current governor, the Education secretary-designate and editors of the Albuquerque Journal.”

Teachers must keep trying until these “students” understand the damage they are doing to our children and public education in New Mexico. Let’s hope they listen this time.

Any evaluation process must be valid, consistent, fair, truly reflect the quality of the work teachers are doing and give them clear guidelines for improvement. The new system, in spite of claims to the contrary, fails every test. In spite of assertions in the Journal editorial, the people who really understand statistical analyses have tried, repeatedly, to point out the numerous flaws, but so far, few are listening.

It is outrageous to rate a teacher’s performance based on subjects she or he has not taught and students who have never been in that teacher’s classroom. It is even more outrageous to judge a teacher based on factors that are out of that teacher’s control. Perhaps the governor and Education secretary-designate would like to be evaluated based on what takes place in another state.

No one in charge of education in New Mexico seems to grasp the simple truth that raising student test scores becomes more difficult as the scores improve and yet a school’s grade is lowered if an arbitrary increase is not made.

No one seems to understand that basing a large part of a teacher’s evaluation on student test scores only captures part of the picture. It demeans students and the profession of education by treating teachers like piece-workers and children like widgets on an assembly line. While private-sector businesses can reject raw materials that don’t meet their standards, our public schools welcome all students.

No one seems to understand that overloading students with incessant testing is demoralizing to them and their teachers and that forcing students to take more tests lessens their motivation to do well. Why does taking the SAT require less than four hours, but testing in New Mexico schools takes weeks?

No one seems to realize that cherry-picking statistics to make “school reform” look good gives a false picture of what is happening in public school classrooms.

8Jun/14Off

CESE Elects New Slate at 2014 Annual Meeting

A new slate of officers for the year 2014-2015 was nominated and elected at today's CESE Annual Meeting (June 7th, 2014).  Leading CESE for the next year is new president Patty Finley. PattyFinely200The vice-president/president-elect for this year is Lisa Durkin. Steve Brügge will continue as treasurer, and Marilyn Savitt-Kring is staying on as secretary.  Board member Marvin Moss has announced his resignation from the board, to allow him more time for his museum activities.

CESE thanks outgoing president Terry Dunbar for a splendid year of service. Here are some pictures from the meeting, which followed a social at the home of Steve and Karen Brügge.

2014annual-1

Rear left: Steve Brugge, Nancy and Jerry Shelton ; table: David Hsi, Margaret Mavretich and Robert Walko, and Mary Ann Jekowski.

2014annual-2

Outgoing president Terry Dunbar talks to the audience. Foreground: Jack Jekowski, Ken Whiton. Far rear: Patty Finely, Jeanette Dunbar.

2014annual-3

Patty Finley, incoming president, addresses the attendees. Terry Dunbar at right.

2014annual-4

Patty Finley addresses the audience. Far left: Kurt Steinhaus.

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Kim Johnson reads an award which was presented to Dave Thomas.

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Dave's award.

11Jul/13Off

Videos of Annual Meeting are On-Line!

Courtesy of CESE board member Jack Jekowski, we are pleased to provide several videos from our June 29th, 2013 Annual Meeting.

CESE Annual Meeting 2013 - Zack Kopplin Talk (30 minutes)

CESE Annual Meeting 2013 Zack Q&As (24 minutes)

CESE Annual Meeting 2013 Zack Q&As #2 (7 minutes)

Dave Magic Trick - CESE Annual Meeting 2013 (6 minutes)

CESE thanks Zack Kopplin for an inspiring talk!