There are more than 335,000 potential teacher recruits in New Mexico — every child in the state’s public schools.
That’s according to Gwen Perea Warniment, the deputy secretary in charge of teacher training and recruitment for the Public Education Department. She has a big job in a state where 644 classrooms were filled by long-term substitutes this school year.
And as our report this week showed, that figure doesn’t really get at the state’s complicated hiring problem. It doesn’t show that rural and low-income schools have the toughest time hiring teachers, the massive lack in specialties like special education, bilingual and math classes, and that a growing reliance on people without education degrees has translated to greener teachers and higher turnover. Gwen Perea Warniment is deputy decretary for Teaching and Learning at the Public Education Department. (Courtesy of PED)
“There’s some important nuances to that because you have turnover in certain areas that’s much more severe than in others.
Last year the debate over New Mexico’s first-ever Ethics Commission was about its day-to-day running and its independence. This year it’s about money.
And the game is on. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to give the state’s independent Ethics Commission a lot more operating money than lawmakers. She recommends nearly $400,000 to help the commission get up and running in its first few months of operation. The Legislature’s request is half that.
New Mexico’s every-other-year legislative sessions are, by definition, short. Just over four weeks. There’s a lot of legislation to cram in, including the state budget, and this year the governor is pushing for no less than legalization of recreational cannabis and free college tuition.
But somehow, in a session in which only items pertaining to public money are allowed unless the governor indicates otherwise, shedding light on how some lawmakers spend that money has been found “not germane.” And so far, the governor hasn’t included greater government transparency among the shortlist of issues she added for debate this year, or “on the call.” Her predecessor, Gov. Susana Martinez, championed some transparency initiatives. And in both the 2016 and 2018 short sessions, legislation to disclose publicly the capital outlay funding decisions of individual lawmakers was greenlighted for debate.
This year, there are two sets of lawmakers pushing to lift the veil of secrecy about how lawmakers spend money for infrastructure projects.
Things are looking better for students with disabilities at Las Cruces’ Mayfield High School. Since 2012, graduation rates for those students have risen from 59% to 81%. That compares to an increase for all Mayfield students from 76% to 89% over the same period, and 70% to 74% for all students statewide. Parents in Doña Ana County can explore those numbers and more on a dashboard created by the Center for Community Analysis at New Mexico State University. The data was compiled by Program Manager Erica Surova, who launched a new Data Newsletter in early January.
New Mexico In Depth has been selected to join a high-impact national network focused on local investigative reporting in 2020.
Since 2008, ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom headquartered in New York City, has become known for rigorous and thoughtful journalism, winning five Pulitzers, five Peabody Awards, three Emmy Awards, seven George Polk Awards and five Online News Association Awards for general excellence.
The New York based news organization will fund and lend its expertise to a year-long investigative reporting project by Albuquerque-based reporter Bryant Furlow focused on health care in New Mexico.
Bryant Furlow is known for reporting that leads to change.
His reporting has exposed off-label sedation of jail inmates with prescription drug cocktails, embezzlements, and lax oversight by the state’s insurance regulators — reporting that prompted new state legislation on insurance rate-setting transparency. With New Mexico In Depth, he detailed how the state’s freeze on Medicaid payments to the state’s largest behavioral health providers disrupted drug treatment and mental health services for children and adults across the state. He’s authored hundreds of health care and medical research news stories for medical journals, including The Lancet journals’ news desks, where his recent reporting has spotlighted neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, vaping injuries, the seizure by the US Border Patrol of children’s medications and volunteer health care efforts at migrant shelters along the U.S./Mexico border. The ProPublica Local Reporting Network was launched in 2018, and with the addition of New Mexico In Depth and 12 other news organizations around the country, now numbers 20 projects. In addition to funding a full-time investigative reporter for one year, ProPublica senior editors will collaborate with Furlow, and the organization will lend their expertise with data, research, and community engagement.
New Mexico In Depth regularly seeks to collaborate with both national and local news organizations to bring resources, new skills, and more journalism to New Mexico communities, where investigative reporting is in short supply.
Albuquerque is home to one of the largest urban Native populations in the country. And yet you rarely see sustained, quality journalism about this community.That changes next year.Starting in June of 2020, New Mexico In Depth will embark on a reporting project that centers Albuquerque’s Native American population thanks to Report for America, a national program that pairs host newsrooms with ambitious reporters. NMID has been selected as one of RFA’s host newsrooms in 2020-2021. NMID proposed to cover a population that intersects with many of the complex challenges confronting New Mexico. There is much reporting to do – about resilience, about creativity, about a continuing effort to empower younger generations through culture and language retention. And, yes, about the thorny problems that disproportionately affect Native communities. New Mexico’s underserved populations deserve quality news coverage. This grant pays in part for a new reporter for this worthy project, about half of his or her salary and benefits. NMID must raise the balance.So here’s where you come in. We’re asking you to help us financially.
Sea ice is melting, droughts and wildfires are becoming more severe, and countless other effects are currently being experienced around the world due to changes in climate. But because many people around the world don’t feel the effects directly, little action is taken to combat it, said Subhankar Banerjee, Professor of Art and Ecology at the University of New Mexico.
A good example, Banerjee said, is in northern New Mexico, where it’s “largely unknown” that roughly 90% of mature piñons died in the early 2000s, which Banerjee said shows the impact of both an ecological crisis and a climate crisis. Banerjee spoke to an audience in Las Cruces in late November about the decimation of hundreds of animal and plant species around the world. The 2018 global “Living Planet Report” produced by the World Wildlife Fund, a conservation organization, indicates an overall decline of 60% in vertebrate populations worldwide — animals such as mammals, birds, reptiles and fish — between 1970 and 2014.
“This crisis as I see it is a more expansive crisis than the climate crisis,” Banerjee said. But the climate crisis is significant.
There is no question that 2018’s Yazzie Martinez education lawsuit has changed the conversation on education in New Mexico.
Yes, there is still the constant discussion about the state’s dead last ranking in education, but the ruling by District Judge Sarah Singleton that the state is failing its constitutional duty to educate at-risk students put some legal force behind demands of advocates that the state do something about it. The future of education in light of the lawsuit was probably the biggest issue in the 2018 governor’s race. And it was behind the nearly half-billion in extra funding allocated by the 2019 Legislature for the state’s public schools. Despite that cash infusion, advocates say the state didn’t do nearly enough in 2019, and are pushing lawmakers to do much more to transform the education system. Southern New Mexico, because of its distance, is often left out of the conversation. But last week Ngage New Mexico, a Las Cruces-based education nonprofit, and Transform Education New Mexico, a coalition that came of out the Yazzie Martinez case, teamed up to look at what opportunities lie ahead for the state in education.
Check out Gwyneth Doland hitting the highlights of the report she did for us on the state’s history of redistricting on the latest episode of New Mexico In Focus, which aired this weekend. For those not up on what redistricting entails, every 10 years New Mexico state lawmakers are assigned the task of redrawing district lines on the map for the Legislature, the U.S. House and other offices, based on population changes the U.S. Census Bureau records. But New Mexico’s redistricting process isn’t governed by many rules and it’s done largely out of the public eye, Gwyneth found. After you watch the New Mexico In Focus segment, read Gwyneth’s report and essay to learn more about this arcane process. We promise you’ll feel better informed about one of the most important jobs our Legislature performs.
If you’ve been following the efforts to build early childhood education in New Mexico over the past few years, a recently released report about a statewide needs assessment won’t hold a lot of surprises. There were the usual issues of low wages and high turnover, poor coordination among early childhood programs, lack of dependable funding and the need for higher-quality programs and greater access across every region of the state.
The New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership, out of United Way of Santa Fe, is in charge of a planning process for the Early Childhood Education and Care Department, with the mandate to complete a needs assessment and help put together a strategic plan for the new agency. It’s conducted a monthslong trek through the state to gather feedback.
There were, however, a couple of interesting takeaways. NMID recently published a story on poor wages for early childhood workers and teachers, and a workforce survey produced for the partnership really put some meat on those bones.
The survey reached 1,290 of New Mexico’s more than 5,000 early childhood workers. Source: New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership
One striking data point from the workforce survey is that a large number of high-level workers in early childhood education make less than $30,000 a year.