King stops in Socorro on tour

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Through a nine-city forum on education, democratic candidate for governor Gary King looks to bring in more supporters by addressing New Mexico's school systems.

Education has been a hotly contested topic thus far in the gubernatorial race, and Tuesday's forum was no exception.

King called for reform and inspection of the state's Standardized Based Assessment (SBA) testing, which is used to grade schools throughout the state; he spoke about looking for increasing funding avenues for education and localizing school board authority.

In a press release from his office last week, the democratic candidate stated he would appoint a new and "qualified" person for New Mexico secretary of education.

He said he would want someone "who has New Mexico teaching experience."

When asked how much experience would be adequate, King said, "I think that we'll look at the resumes that come to us. I have run across a lot of people who have taught for two or three years but then went the administrative route and were a principal for 30 years. Someone like that would be great or someone who actually taught for 30 years."

Looking at SBA, King said he wouldn't necessarily abolish the testing method as governor, but he doesn't want it to be an overbearing standard. New testing is expected for the following year.

"At the end of the year you give a test, and the problem is not with giving a standardized test," King said. You can get useful and statistical information from the test. But it doesn't tell you how one particular student is doing. The problem is how they're using the standardized tests. Next year, if you don't pass the SBA, you can't get a diploma."

King added students who have a B average but don't pass the test could be shafted by that method of testing.

"If we don't have tests that aren't tailored to what students learned over the course of the semester, we should do away with them," King said.

In regard to Socorro and other rural communities throughout the state, King said he would like for local school boards to have more authority in governing their districts because they have more local knowledge of their area.

"Some school districts may want to specialize in welding and things like that because they're part of the community," King said. "A certain set of skills that the education system determines that students need to have may not be useful in the community or the job market. There are so many more things schools are than testing machines, so we need to put control back in local hands. You should have some standards and give some flexibility."

King was elected New Mexico attorney general in 2006.

A recent press release announced King had received the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers, a national union of educators known for backing political candidates with large contributions. The union recently announced through its political action committee it would put $1 million toward a mayoral candidate in Chicago this year.

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