The Watcher Reloads and Fires Back

By: Bill Whaley
21 September, 2011

At last we’re getting some decent correspondents here at the Friction. What with the Watcher and the Union Rep having engaged in Broadsides, we see a return to 18th Century polemics during the Federalists papers debate. On Saturday, the watcher wrote a column, considering the question: “Are teacher furloughs at TMS legal”? The Union Rep, Mr. Orion Cervio, was upbraided, and he, in turn, published a piece questioning the Watcher’s cred.

Here’s a comment from Jeff Northrup: “Orion puts my character assassinations to shame.  If he teaches a course in it, I’m going back to high school.”

Now the Watcher returns fire.

Did I strike a nerve, Mr. Cervio?

By Lorraine Coca-Ruiz

Let me set the record straight Mr. Cervio, if you would have done your homework you would know that PED representatives were at the meeting of August 30, 2007: Then Interim Superintendent Rose Martinez misleads PED by saying that there was a 1.2 million shortage.

The following is an insert from those minutes:

Superintendent Martinez informed the board that they can see copies of the audits and their status at the NM State. President Cordova asked why the cash reports never reflected the $1.2 million shortage and asked for an explanation on the difference between budget and cash. A budget is an estimation of where and how you plan to spend monies and cash is what is actually spent. The state believes there’s enough to hire staff if other cutbacks are made, such as stipends.

Melissa Sanchez said that the most important report is the cash report. We need to look at the plan we designed and if we want to hire additional staff we need to look at other line items, such as supplies and materials.

Steve Burrell mentioned that Taos Municipal Schools have always had balanced budgets. Michael Torres asked directly if there was a shortfall. Melissa Sanchez and Steve Burrell both responded “No”.

Melissa Sanchez said that Taos Municipal Schools has the money needed for salaries right now. Currently the budget is balanced.

Where did the $500,000 come from Mr. Cervio? That’s a new figure to me. You are absolutely right on the cost of attorneys, money that should be going to the children, too many lawsuit flying around to count.

You might consider calling New Mexico State Auditor Hector Balderas at (505) 476-3800. He might help you find the $500,000 that you say is missing or was embezzled. As Hector says “I will protect New Mexicans – together we will stamp out fraud, waste and financial abuse.” Thousands of dollars were spent on the following audits. You might consider reading them so that you can get your facts straight and share the results with your partners at CRAB hall.

The 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 were audits by De’Aun Willoughby CPA, PC Certified Public Accountants.

There is also the famous due diligence IDEAS audit report, remarkable for the number of red flags it raises. Check it out.

The forensic audit (Moss-Adams LLP partner Jim Thompson) was done in parallel with the district’s 2008 -2009 regular audit done by Keystone Accounting of Farmington.

I requested that the audits examine my financial records when I was director of finance 2005-2006 (15 months).

I’m clear.

You think you have a smoking gun but all you have is smoke and no fire!

The main problem at TMS today is that a grandstanding politician is now in charge of classrooms–even though he has no experience as a teacher. Teachers have no say or input in the choice of curriculum and have no say about the pace of instruction. Better yet, they have little or no say in the individualized, differentiated instructions that their students are so desperately in need of!

Union leaders need to learn how to step back and look inside–but think outside–the box. There are a plethora of problems: You will have bigger problem at mid-year due to cuts. Have you considered how the curriculum will be organized for art, music, sports, physical education, vocational education, life skills training, math & science, geography, social studies, and the humanities! Or are you going to leave up to the Director of Instruction?

A teacher is like a five alarm blaze to a fire fighter, or an uninviting salad to a chef, or a slow march to a rock ‘n roller. The situation is in dire need of the professional’s skill set to survive but must also try  to improve the outcome. Douse the blaze. Spice up the salad, inspire the student–and for goodness sake, rewrite the tune to get us rocking again.

While I am a staunch proponent of the First Amendment and free speech, I don’t believe that educators should be sharing their uninformed and slanderous comments with the public. Rather, they should be committed to nurturing and coaching youngsters to keep trying, and to strive to succeed.

Leave the “politics” to politicians. It’s a dirty game. You’re an educator.

The following are emails and or comments I received yesterday.

“Unions need to be a part of the solution and not the problem. The teachers have a very weak union. We really appreciate you keeping us informed.”

“As a former high school principal, I believe you have touched the surface of the proverbial iceberg with your candid take on the district “issues.” I have had the opportunity to step back for the past year and a half from education and look in from another perspective: that of just a parent. To cut directly to the chase, your observations are accurate, and there is more to it than you even touched upon regarding why our students are so far behind or just stagnating.”

“I belonged to the district union… for five years and after getting into it with several local union presidents over union policy and political leanings [left]. Being an educator that does work longer hours than required and cares about my students’ education, I respect your article.”

“Unions had their place years ago but now they are fighting to keep the status quo, and to be a part of the “Good ol’ boys club and part of “The Chuby Plan.” Union leaders do not meet standards that should be met in order to retain a job. I appreciate you and the others for fighting for us taxpayers.”

“I left the union. I took early retirement in part because I became tired of the “death by a thousand paper cuts” political atmosphere prevalent in the public school environment. Union leaders are sell outs.”

“Thank you so much and hopefully more people will realize that unions don’t help teachers, labor leaders help themselves.”

Orion, don’t forget to open the door to the process server!

I’ll be watching

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