Today's Opinions

  • Memorizing lessons isn’t rigor – it’s rigor mortis

    Like any professional discipline, the academic arena is littered with educational jargon.
     Today, an effective teacher must exemplify intersegmental critical-thinking, recontextualize synergistic concept-maps, and benchmark technology-infused pedogogical schemas.
     Personally, I don’t mind jargon. but there is one word that seems to be more abused than any other.  Rigor.
     Educational rigor involves the creation of a focused coherent learning environment that fosters critical thinking, encourages mastery of the material, and challenges students to help them build a sense of accomplishment.
     In short, rigor raises the bar, preparing students for moving on to more advanced topics and applications.
     There is little applicable training to guide teachers how to establish and nurture rigor in the classroom. Consequently, teachers strongly disagree regarding what constitutes “rigor.”
     In math classes, “rigor” is often tossed like a didactic grenade, purposely confusing students with needlessly difficult problems. Teachers expect students to memorize long lists of complex formulas and to work out problems with large or complicated looking numbers.

  • The Pope, climate change and VW

    Executive Director, Energy Makes America Great, Inc.

  • Pope’s visit reveals political battle lines

    While papal visits to the United States are increasingly common, what is uncommon is to see political-ideological battle lines drawn around a pope. The tendency this time is especially acute among liberals, who eagerly frame Francis as one of them – a categorization Francis has resisted. “I’m sure that I haven’t said anything more than what’s written in the social doctrine of the Church,” he said as his plane approached U.S. soil.
    To some degree, liberals are certainly justified in linking Pope Francis to many of their concerns – climate change, wealth redistribution, poverty. And even many conservatives seem to concede this pope to the political left. In truth, however, both sides lack a full picture.
    To illustrate the point, I’ll focus on the subject area that brings Pope Francis here to America to begin with: a major international Catholic Church synod on family and marriage.
    Though Francis is absolutely forgiving and charitable and merciful, including to homosexuals, when it comes to marriage and family, this pope has been unflinchingly orthodox in support of historic Church teaching. Some of his language has been even stronger than his predecessors. The extent to which that is true is at times shocking. Here are just a few examples:

  • John Boehner, behind the tears

    WASHINGTON — The “regular guy with a big job” has seemed at the center of palace intrigue forever, a man to shake things up in the old days, to be plotted against on and off ever since.
    There was nothing regular about John Boehner’s rise and fall and rise and fall in the House, nothing constant except that tan and the smoke-filled rooms wherever he was allowed to light up.
    Boehner’s announced exit as House speaker and from Congress altogether caps a political career that began as the head of a homeowners association in an Ohio neighborhood and made him second in line to the presidency.
    A firm opponent of abortion rights, he was essentially undone by disaffection from conservatives who want to push an anti-abortion struggle over Planned Parenthood financing to the point of closing the government, a step too far for him. He was once one of the agitators – a member of the Newt Gingrich Gang of Seven who seized the Republican congressional agenda, then the reins of House power, in the 1990s. He was ultimately undone by tea partyers and other conservatives he’d kept in line as speaker for nearly five years – barely, and at a cost.

  • Ordinance does not permit sheriff to compete with police department

    Sheriff, Los Alamos County

  • State’s new energy policy: We’re all in this together

    For years, New Mexicans have said we’ve got it all when it comes to energy – oil, gas, coal, geothermal, solar, wind – and now we have a new energy policy that reflects this.
    Maybe now we can end the pointless jousting between supporters of renewable and traditional sources.
    Last week, the governor announced a plan developed over the past year by the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department after listening to sessions held around the state. The first energy plan since 1991 embraces all sectors and emphasizes jobs, economic diversity and energy independence.
    The big shift is “promoting greater production of ALL sources of energy, especially low-carbon sources,” which the governor’s news release describes as an “‘all of the above’ approach to energy development.”
    What I especially like about the plan is its solid statements of policy backed up by proposals rather than puffery. Here are the key points:
    Building or improving pipelines, electric transmission and rail from the Four Corners to I-40, and adding a third oil refinery.

  • Education suggestions include residential science high school

    The Domenici Public Policy Conference is about the learning needed for “doing better at what we ought to do as citizens,” said former Sen. Pete Domenici to begin the eight-annual gathering in Las Cruces. The conference started with learning about education policy to build the economy.
    Former North Carolina Gov. James Hunt brought an unvarnished and lengthy recitation of why his state moved from, in the 1950s “tied with Mississippi as just about the poorest state” to, in the 1980s, around the time of Hunt’s 16 years as governor, being the hottest thing in economic development.
    When the work started, North Carolina’s income was 62 percent of the national average. Now it is 86 percent. New Mexico’s is 81 percent. Hunt kindly didn’t mention New Mexico’s link these days with Mississippi at the bottom of state-performance lists.
    North Carolina’s various initiatives worked.
    Born in Wilson, N.C., east of Raleigh, the 78-year-old Hunt was governor from 1977 to 1985 and from 1993 to 2001. He likes policy institutes, having founded two, both of which he still chairs.

  • Joys and challenges of following your dream

    Chomping down on the fine steak before me, I wondered if it was a local product — one of the happy animals standing knee deep in green grass that we’d passed on our way.
    No, said our host. He’d love to be serving local beef, but regulations require them to buy from licensed food processors.
    The same regulations allow them to combine ingredients to make a cake or stew but not to make their own butter to demonstrate self-sufficiency.
    That was one of many lessons of two days at the recently opened Concho Hills Guest Ranch, perched in the foothills of the San Mateo Mountains west of Magdalena in western New Mexico.
    The dude ranch is a passion for Tim and Marilyn Norris, nuclear engineers who worked all over the world (including a stint at Urenco, near Hobbs) before falling in love with New Mexico and deciding to pursue their dream here. They opened Concho Hills (ConchoHillsRanch.com) in April.
    Being around newcomers is an antidote to the New Mexico Blues, in which we dwell on our troubles and forget to count our blessings.
    The Norrises’ interest and enthusiasm is contagious.
    They’re also an example of what happens with every new business, a subject of keen interest to business groups and the legislative Jobs Council.