SANTA FE, NM – Education … so revered historically that, in Ancient Greece, only male children of the elite class were invited to receive one – the same with Old Europe, and even today in many repressed societies.
In the past, a good education could propel one out of poverty into a better life; learning was not taken for granted, but prized, unlike today. The great opportunity and equalizer of America was the education offered and given to everyone. Free of charge. A leg up; a shot at success based just on your brains!
But today the pursuit of learning is not honored, nor is the teacher – not by the people, nor the government by, of and for the people.
In our Instagram world of immediate gratification, pop celebrity and honoring the least common denominator, the deferred gratification of acquiring a well-rounded education is relegated to a few intrepid scholars or nerds.
In our society, where so often excellence and talent are ignored at best and punished at worst, and mediocrity and low achievement rewarded with extras and perks, perhaps this is the natural consequence. New Mexico, tussling year after year with Mississippi for last place among the 50 states in educational achievement, continues to limp along with the status quo firmly entrenched. The Worst. Not even average, or near it. 50th out of 50. The bottom. Abysmal. The dunce hat!
School Superintendent Joel Boyd is trying hard to change all that here in Santa Fe, and his decision to stay after being wooed and courted by a major city’s school district at a far higher salary is testimony to his commitment and backbone.
His detractors say his methods are too tough but, so far, his statistics are impressive. He has cut the dropout rate; increased the overall percentage of students scoring at the proficient and advanced levels in both reading and math; reduced the performance gap between Santa Fe Public Schools and the rest of the state to it lowest level ever; and boosted the number of pre-K seats in the district.
Sadly, there’s never enough money to keep the bills paid – the lights on, the grounds safe, the salaries covered. And apparently they can’t pay for paper and crayons, music, physical education, drama, art, singing, languages or field trips, even in the area … those “other” elements of a well-rounded education that make a person whole and, if taught all along, help people to know “what they want to be when they grow up.”
How does one know if he has talent in art if he has never pulled a paintbrush, or that she loves dancing if she never lifted a leg? All of these were included in the regular curriculum of the ’50s, and ’60s, not every day, but at least once a week. Today, only extracurricular, and extra dollars.
Hence, Dollars 4 Schools, a nonprofit organization directly benefitting Santa Fe schools. This group pays for grants, projects, field trips and special studies. The money goes straight to the teacher to spend on a project – bypassing the red tape of bureaucracy. Contributors go to the website, dollars4schools.org and choose which program or programs they want to underwrite, and click! Simple! Most of the teachers’ ideas need only a few hundred dollars.
One could also get dressed up and attend their annual gala fundraiser. This year’s party at Las Campanas raised nearly $25,000 in ticket sales, and live and silent auctions with wonderful merchandise … handmade Lucchese boots, vintage dresses, freshwater pearls from Asian Adobe, and some great jewelry and art!
Only four fabulous items were offered in the live auction: a week for 10 people in a seven-bedroom luxury estate in Scottsdale on the golf course, which was perfect for five couples to split, and three very special celebrity lunches.
In offering up lunch with Ali MacGraw at SantaCafe, the dashing British auctioneer promised that Ali would get the successful bidder a starring role in a movie and also a star on Hollywood Boulevard. He also promised that, if you bought the lunch with the mayor at the Compound, all of your parking tickets would be forgiven, your building permit would be approved immediately and any other city business rubber-stamped ASAP.
Lunch with Superintendent Boyd went for $1,000, three times! Three bidders wanted it, so he agreed to have three lunches, most graciously, one at Midtown Bistro and two at Amaya! What a blessing that he is here and not Fort Worth’s knight in shining armor … .
About 150 dolled-up people supported the evening, including a lot of moms and dads who enthusiastically endorse Superintendent Boyd and his programs and reforms.
Maybe we can move up off the bottom step.
Ashley Margetson has a BA in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The music at the Dollars 4 Schools Gala at Las Campanas had attendees on their feet.
Georgette Romero and Yancy Whitacre went all out for the costume ball.
Vicki Wafer, second from left, went unmasked among incognito revelers at the Dollars 4 Schools ball.
Mr. and Mrs. Kurt Hill in beaded finery.
Ali McGraw helps out the auctioneer.
Paco and Cindy Arguello were there for Dollars 4 Schools.
Superintendent Joel Body and wife Keza enjoyed the festivities.