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New Mexico is a charity case led by the clueless. For Wall Street Journal reporter Nathan Koppel, checking into our “anemic recovery” as compared with our neighbors, state Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela and Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry did the standard litany of prone New Mexico mainlining federal dollars.
“Our reliance on the federal government has put a wet blanket on the economy and tempered growth,” is how Koppel quoted Barela in the Dec. 28 article.
A businessman’s reaction to the article is, “Incredible — we need to take whatever jobs we can to get out of this mess.”
Rest assured, I’m as much against the social meddling nanny-state that seeks to transfer control of our lives to Santa Fe and/or Washington, D.C. I am equally in favor of our world-class government science sector and suggest that seeking opportunity in this research might be a plan.
Further argument for our charity case qualifications come from the census. Our population growth has dropped each year since 2010 to almost nothing in the year ending July 1, 2013. We added 1,747 from 2012, a 0.084 percent increase. A safe bet is that the increase was entirely due to new babies. Another detail is that a few hundred people over 55 departed each year between 2009 and 2012.
For charities, New Mexico offers a growth market. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (think cereal and Battle Creek) has New Mexico as one of four states that are “priority places,” which means “high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success.”
This news arrived Nov. 22 in an email from Powell Tate, the Foundation’s Washington, D.C., public relations firm. Powell Tate, in turn, is a subsidiary of Weber Shandwick, which describes itself as “a big, global organization.” Saving New Mexico appears to be big business. The foundation’s other American priority places are Michigan, Mississippi and New Orleans.
The foundation’s email announced a new fellowship program for 100 locals from the priority places to get a $20,000 salary to do the good work at home and “be community-based social change agents.” Another 20 “will focus on racial healing and equity” with a national perspective.
Another nonprofit (and therefore committed to The Good, as are all nonprofits), Teach for America, has operated in New Mexico since 2001. Bright liberal arts grads from quality schools such as Princeton and Colorado College, flock to TFA and, after a 90-day boot camp, are thrown into what we might gently call “difficult” classrooms in difficult districts.
According to the New Mexico page on TFA’s website, “Over the last 10 years, our corps has grown from an isolated group of teachers to the largest systemic education intervention in New Mexico.”
TFA came to New Mexico in 2001. The “core size” has grown from 25 to 119. I’m not sure what “core size” means, possibly teachers plus administrative staff. The website failed to explain. But any organization with that sort of growth deserves applause, especially in Gallup, TFA’s New Mexico headquarters.
The TFA theory is that all those smarts, idealism and energy from the new grads, with appropriate institutional backup, will make a difference. Mostly that must be true, given TFA’s growth and the fawning national media reports I have seen.
However, from experience, I know it isn’t entirely true. Sometimes an unsuited person slips through TFA’s rigorous recruiting process. Sometimes the backup fails.
The charity’s agenda jargon — “social change agents,” “racial healing,” “systemic education intervention” — is interesting, especially because they operate well out of the spotlight. But they are doing something.