Valeria Holloway, owner of Best of the Southwest Day Care Center in Las Cruces, teaches preschool. She uses a curriculum that she learned in Virginia but is hoping to get a contract for New Mexico PreK. Don’t call her a babysitter. That’s a teenager who wants $50 and pizza to watch your children on date night.
Valeria Holloway has taken care of children professionally for nearly 20 years. She started in the business, as many young mothers do, because the cost of child care was so high that it would have eaten up most of her salary, and she preferred to stay home with her new child.
Creating New Mexico In Depth was an act of resistance. To a smaller local press corps. To politicians deciding what the story is. To the powerful defining the rules. And most importantly, to making sure the voices of people most affected by social issues are heard.
The state didn’t spend enough, and it still doesn’t have a plan. That, in essence, is what attorneys in the state’s landmark Martinez/Yazzie education lawsuit argue in a legal motion that seeks concrete steps to guarantee Native Americans, English learners, disabled and low-income students a sufficient education.
Wilhelmina Yazzie, lead plaintiff in the case, has two high schoolers in the Gallup McKinley district. She said even after the state pumped nearly half a billion into the public schools, her sons aren’t seeing it in the classroom. There are no new textbooks or computers, teachers are still providing resources out of pocket and classes that reflects their Navajo culture are still lacking. “I know a lot of our teachers, they do want to help our children.
Lt. Gov. Howie Morales visits Las Cruces on a recent October morning to talk about his after-school learning initiative. Lt. Gov. Howie Morales was running late to an interview at the IHOP in Las Cruces.
His job these days puts him on the road a lot, but he still likes to drop his kids off at school in Silver City. That connection is something the former coach, special education teacher and state senator wants to keep with education in general.
“Education is always going to be at the heart of what I do because that’s why I got into public service,” he said on a recent October morning during a visit to Las Cruces, where he talked up a summit planned for Tuesday in Albuquerque on after-school and out-of-school time activities that would strengthen kids’ connections to school and provide more learning opportunities. As a senator, Morales got involved in the full spectrum of education, from preschool to higher education. He credited early educators in Grant County for making him understand a successful higher education system started with strong early education such as home visiting and preschool.
Sarah Cottrell Propst, secretary of the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, and Dr. Dan Arvisu, NMSU Chancellor, listen as Kelsey Rader, Albuquerque sustainability officer, describes action the city is taking on climate change. The event was part of the 2019 New Mexico State University Climate Change Education Seminar Series. Image by Leah Romero. After President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in 2017 from an international agreement that set voluntary targets for how much countries would reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, a swath of states and cities across the country announced they would continue to honor the agreement.
New Mexico’s largest city joined that effort in 2018, and the state followed when Democratic governor Michelle Lujan Grisham assumed office in 2019. Three leaders in climate initiatives described efforts at the state, local and university levels at the second talk of the New Mexico State University Climate Change Education Seminar Series last week.
Emily Phan, Vice-President, Fight for Our Lives. Photo by Bianca Hoops. Today, people from all over the world will be walking out of work and schools to send a message that the world is experiencing a climate emergency.
The “global climate strike” comes from a youth-led movement sparked when a 15-year-old Greta ThunBerg started cutting classes and camping out on the steps of the Swedish Parliament in September 2018, sparking similar youth climate actions around the world. Thunberg said in interviews she was inspired to begin her climate protest by the student led “march for our lives” protests after mass school shooting in Parkland, FL. In New Mexico strikes will be happening throughout the state, in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Silver City, and Del Norte.
Dr. Debra Peters presenting “Chihuahuan Desert Landscape in an Uncertain Future” to kick off the Fall 2019 NMSU Climate Change Seminar Series. Photo by Leah Romero. The New Mexico State University Climate Change Seminar Series (NMSUCCESS) and Friends of Organ Mountains — Desert Peaks kicked off the semester last week with “Chihuahuan Desert Landscape in an Uncertain Future”, a presentation by Debra Peters, Ph.D., lead research scientist with the Jornada Experimental Range and adjunct faculty member at NMSU.
Peters explained that Doña Ana County in the distant past was 100 percent grasslands, but desertification has changed the area substantially, as it has in other areas, over the last couple hundred years. By 1915 the county was about 37 percent grassland and 63 percent shrubbery. By 1998, the area was only 8 percent grassland.
What does New Mexico want to achieve with its efforts in birth to age five programs, including standing up a brand new Early Childhood Education and Care Department? That’s the fundamental question Betsy Cahill, a professor of early childhood education, wants to answer. “We’re not just getting them ready for kindergarten; we’re getting them ready for life,” Cahill said.
Cahill, who is also co-director of the teacher preparation program at New Mexico State University, was taking part in the first round of community conversations taking place across New Mexico to assess gaps in early childhood programs and to come up with a strategic plan for the new department.
She had ideas on how to graduate more early childhood educators and keep them in the field, such as changing when students take qualifying exams and giving them practical experience early on so they know what they’re getting into. More than 80 people whose work touches young children attended the gathering Wednesday at Las Cruces City Hall. Among the crowd were brand-new Head Start teachers and experienced preschool directors, child care providers and foster parents, mental health specialists and educational nonprofits.
Participants were asked to identify what was working — and not — in areas such as funding, workforce development and training, New Mexico PreK and Head Start, and infant and toddler care.
Trip Jennings, executive director of New Mexico In Depth
History is written by the victors. That adage jangled around in my head this week as I made my way through the New York Times’ 1619 Project. An ambitious heave in its Sunday magazine and special section, the project argues that to understand our nation better we need to fundamentally alter how we view slavery and everything that came after.
Even if critics call it propaganda and a rewriting of American history, the publication of the 1619 Project by one of the nation’s leading newspapers shouldn’t surprise us. How we tell the stories about who we are as a nation, our place in the world and our deepest values – what we know as our nation’s history – has regularly changed. Since our country’s founding, successive generations have revisited what stories from our past to lift up and what stories to downplay based on the present.
Today the United States is more ethnically diverse than it was a few decades ago, and will only become moreso.
Newly appointed Education Secretary Ryan Stewart, left, visits the Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque with the school’s founder, Deputy Secretary Kara Bobroff, on Aug. 13. (Public Education Department via Twitter)
If classroom teachers and education advocates could sit down with new Education Secretary Ryan Stewart, they would tell him to just listen. That’s the consistent message from two teachers at Las Cruces Public Schools – one who has taught for seven years, and another for 30 years, and two leaders of education nonprofits — one a member of the Transform Education New Mexico coalition of that formed out of the Yazzie Martinez education lawsuit, and another a former director of outreach in the Martinez administration’s Public Education Department. Stewart, who is African American, and was the regional director of a nonprofit that works to improve education for low-income and minority students, takes the helm weeks after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham fired Karen Trujillo from the post after just six months on the job.