5 things I learned from New Mexico public schools in the 90s

Most of my opinions about public school are really just opinions about New Mexico public school in the 90s. I find myself going over these a lot when ranting about our public education system, so I’m going to write them out here in the hopes that I’ll never have to talk about them again.

1. No one gave a shit about New Mexico public schools in the 90s. Do they now? No idea. I just remember getting my textbook on the first day of US History and noticing how half of it was missing.

2. People hand out money in really irresponsible ways. While the history textbooks were faling apart, the school district got something like a million dollars to start a “Tech Lab”, requiring all students to spend several hours a week in the same room as computers, in the hopes that the majority-Navajo population of the school would somehow absorb a skill required for modern life. We mostly played Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. So I guess that worked.

3. Being poor sucks.

4. Being smart sucks. And by smart I mean “able to pass a basic English literacy test”.

5. Being a biology teacher in New Mexico in the 90s sucked. In Freshman biology, our teacher retired halfway through the year because he just couldn’t take it anymore. His replacement was a substitute teacher with no qualifications who had us spend an extra two weeks on Mendel diagrams instead of covering evolution, because she didn’t believe in it. Sophomore year I had AP biology and when we got to the chapter on evolution, I was dismayed to hear students in the class protesting that it didn’t exist and even more dismayed to hear the teacher deciding to skip it. When I confronted him about it, he admitted that he’d given up trying to argue with the students about it years ago.

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