ExxonMobil subsidiary’s pledge to cut methane waste from new and existing operations nationwide could mean better days are ahead for New Mexico’s economy.

NEA-NM Public Comment on NextGen Standards

As are others, we are very hopeful.  The policy response of the PED is to be applauded.  They’re on the road to doing the right thing for NM students – adapting the FULL NGSS standards and framework without abbreviation.

While it is a good move in the right direction by the PED, we must echo the serious concerns raised by the scientific community and school administrators about details – The examples provided by the LANL Foundation, Ms. Warniment and the other speakers show just how important it remains that “#teachervoiceNM,” as well as the voices of scientists, need to be actively included in the move toward implementation. 

We stand in agreement with all the specific comments delivered too by Mr. Rounds, representing educational administrators.   Our Union and our managers are in agreement on this!   We both put students at the center of all we do.  The PED-rushed implementation plan will harm student success. 

Consideration should be given to the revival of the PED committee which for four years recommended adoption of the NextGen for NM.  Expand it to be sure all stakeholders – those who came out in public to provide input – be at the center of implementation.   If not that specific group, then something like it needs to be involved in moving this forward. 

The NGSS has recommended that states take several years to implement these standards before they are used for high-stakes testing. New Mexico believes they can do testing in 2020. The LANL Foundation has direct experience for how difficult it is to implement the NGSS.

The school administrators have outlined other implementation issues, not the least of which is teacher training.  You’ve already heard it takes several years to move through the process and a lot of money.

We hope the PED advocates for the increases to the funding formula the process requires for implementation.

The Secretary-designates focuses his remarks to media about the number of schools earning an “A,” and the number of kids “proficient in math and science.”   Numerical indicators are code for more student testing and continued reliance on it.  Most states are dropping their student-damaging reliance on student test scores for those purposes, which the new federal education law allows them (and us) to do.

As you know, student tests remain the main basis upon which teachers are evaluated.  Even at 35% of teacher evaluation being based on student test scores, that is among the highest in the nation.  Ruszkowski is using the NextGen debate to promote this failed approach to student success.

By the way testing is big business!  So is driving parents away from community schools, and into the semi-public charter schools which too often are run by private management companies, and other private purveyors materials and services.  What parent would not look to alternatives for their children if their school keeps being graded low.  The purview of the implementation committee should include input on both the NGSS, and their implementation AND the how that implementation impacts whether we as a state help our students achieve success. 

The deficits of the approach promoted by the PED spin on moving forward with these standards and their implementation is wrong.  “Evaluating” whether a student is learning successfully in a school, or their teacher is teaching them successfully, as measured heavily by numerical indicators fails to put the focus on the whole child – where it should be. 

We thank the PED for it’s move in the right direction, and we look forward to eventually seeing the adoption and implementation of the NGSS in their entirety and with fidelity. Like it or not, doing so requires increased funding!  Our students deserve nothing less.

Charles Goodmacher

NEA-New Mexico Government and Media Relations Director

Kudos to XTO Energy

A recent announcement from an oil and gas company could mean better days are ahead for New Mexico’s economy. XTO Energy, an ExxonMobil subsidiary, pledged to cut methane waste from new and existing operations nationwide, with a particular focus in the Permian Basin.

XTO is a major oil and gas producer – number one in the U.S. for natural gas production – and a major new player in New Mexico, having invested $6 billion in new acreage in the state since January. With this announcement, XTO is stepping up to ensure that it does this development right using the best available technologies to avoid wasted methane, and in so doing reap additional revenue from gas that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere.

Efforts like XTO’s will mean additional tax and royalty revenue to New Mexico, funds that can be invested in vital state needs like education. And they will mean additional jobs from the methane mitigation industry, the companies that develop and manufacture the cleaner, more efficient technologies that XTO will deploy.

XTO is not alone in their efforts to curtail methane waste. Other major producers like Shell and natural gas exporters like Cheniere Energy have also said that sensible requirements to cut wasted methane make economic sense.

Where does this growing groundswell of industry voices calling for smart methane policies leave other New Mexico producers? Hopefully, it means others will join the push for better, safer, more efficient practices.

Capturing escaped methane is better for oil and gas companies, better for taxpayers, better for public health, better for the environment, and better for economic development in New Mexico. As a representative of the methane mitigation industry, I can say that we stand ready to help more New Mexico producers make these investments in more efficient operations and a stronger economy.

Patrick Von Bargen

Executive Director of the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions