How Farmington parents and students are feeling about their schools on the first day back
FARMINGTON — As public school campuses across San Juan County came back to life after a winter break ending on Tuesday, school officials and others reflected on a recent study that found that a majority of New Mexicans referred to public education in New Mexico as "just fair."
The survey, entitled “NEA survey of New Mexicans’ Perception of Public Education,” was conducted by the National Education Association, one of the largest teachers’ unions in the country.
People surveyed further reported that their top concerns regarding the public education system were; “out of school factors,” like child poverty, school employees’ salaries being low, a lack of parental involvement and a lack of general funding for public schools.
“I’m hoping my Farmington people would say that they’re more happy with their schools,” said Farmington Municipal School District Superintendent Gene Schmidt, referring to the entire community of parents, students and staff involved in Farmington public schools, “and I’d like to give a shout out to the foundational work our teachers do.”
Schmidt discussed the district's goals for the new semester, which revolve around facilitating “safe, supportive and collaborative schools,” making sure more high school students graduate on time and creating an educational environment that focuses on “not preparing for tests but preparing for kid’s futures and how to prepare for that better tomorrow,” Schmidt said.
"Farmington continues to outperform other schools across the state," Schmidt added.
Farmington schools' parents and students respond
“I think more funding would be better, especially like to get more tools to help students," said ninth-grade Farmington High School student Jay John on his way to his second class of the new school year, "like in my geometry class I’m going to now, we have very few protractors, so we have to group up.”
"My kids have awesome teachers," said Lisa Hammond, the mother of three children attending Bluffview Elementary School; Andrea, a fifth grader, Jones, a third grader and Claire, who’s in kindergarten.
While Hammond loves her kids' teachers, she can see the ways in which a lack of funding for teachers can affect the quality of education children get, even in the best learning environments with the best teachers.
Hammond said the way she tries to mitigate that is through her own involvement in Bluffview’s Parent Teacher Association, the PTA.
“I don’t think any kind of change can be made if you’re not involved,” Hammond said.
Outside of Hermosa Middle School, Adam Velasquez sat in his truck with his son, sixth grader Isaiah, warming up a few minutes before the school day began on Jan. 7, 2020.
“Yeah, I think they should get more [teachers], but they treat the kids good,” said Velasquez, “If they had more resources it would be better.”
Velasquez said he hoped his son, Isaiah, would be able to both learn and grow more this semester.
“I’m excited to learn more math,” Isaiah said, “Just a little bit of math.”
The survey can be viewed here at nmlegis.gov.
Sam Ribakoff is a visual journalist for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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