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Today's Opinions

  • LAPS in compliance with immunization regulations

    There has been a great deal of conversation in the community and the media about immunizations against certain communicable diseases.
    In fact, one recent story (lamonitor.com, Feb. 6) noted Los Alamos County was “… second in the state for the number of vaccination exemptions at 3.1 percent for children ages 4 to 18….”
    For Los Alamos, the number of parents who requested vaccination exemptions (immunization waivers) amounted to about 100 students out of the more than 3,500 enrolled in school. The vaccination exemptions requested by parents were primarily based on religious or medical reasons, which are allowed by state law.
    Our community will be pleased to know Los Alamos Public Schools is in compliance with the New Mexico Department of Health rules and New Mexico School Manual regarding immunizations and exemptions.
    Michele Wright RN, LAPS Nursing Team leader stated, “Either students have completed their vaccines, are following a schedule to catch up on missing vaccines, or have valid religious beliefs or medical conditions for not receiving their vaccines.”

  • Pet Talk: Probiotics for pets on the rise

    Probiotics, or “good bacteria,” can be defined as living microorganisms that, when administered in adequateamounts, can offer multiple health benefits to the host. Though they have been gaining popularity amongst humans in the past decade, the possibility of similar probiotic supplements for your pets’ health is on the rise.
    “Essentially, we are trying to give live bacteria in supplement form that have beneficial properties to ananimal in order to improve their digestive health,” said Dr. Jan Suchodolski, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It is imperative that bacteria are alive once they reach the gut and that they are also delivered in high amounts. That’s why a high-quality product is needed.”
    In order to fully understand how probiotics work, it’s important to know that the beneficial effects of probiotics are bacterial strain specific, meaning every bacterial strain has a potentially different effect. Some probiotic strains, for instance, stimulate the immune system, while other strains produce anti-inflammatory biomolecules or antimicrobial molecules to combat pathogens.

  • Things parents should know about PARCC testing

    Los Alamos Public Schools will soon begin testing students in third through 11th grade on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC). This will mark the first year this test has been administered in our community.
    The purpose of the assessment is to help determine our students’ understanding of the Common Core State Standards in reading, language arts and mathematics, as well as provide data about our students’ college and career readiness. For example, a fifth grade student who demonstrates proficiency on the PARCC assessment is viewed as on a path to college and career ready.
    In the past, the annual assessment was known as the New Mexico Standards Based Assessment (SBA), which was administered over a two-week testing window.
    In contrast to SBA that students took in the past, the PARCC will be taken online. Students in Chamisa and Mountain Elementary Schools will be the first to participate in the PARCC testing. Other schools in the district will soon follow.
    PARCC will be administered in two phases. As such, students in grades 3-11 will be assessed in three tests in English Language Arts and two tests in mathematics in March. In April, students in grades 3-11 will take two end-of-year tests in English Language Arts and two end-of-year in mathematics.

  • Consider a minor’s circumstances before changing parental notification

    Parental notification on abortion, an issue I hoped had been put to rest years ago, is back with New Mexico, thanks to House Bill 391, sponsored by Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Valencia.
    The bill requires that if a minor is seeking an abortion, her parents must be notified first. The requirement is notice, not consent.
    The bill provides exceptions, including so-called judicial bypass — a way for the minor to get approval from a judge instead of her parents in certain circumstances. It also requires statistical reporting by all doctors who perform abortions (not limited to minors) — a provision that might be seen as a prelude to more restrictive legislation.
    Should the law require girls under the age of consent — or the healthcare providers who want to help them — to notify parents before they can get an abortion? This question is not just about abortion. It’s about parenting and the precious protective relationship between parents and children.
    Except sometimes the relationship is not protective.
    How you react to this question depends on the point of view you take when you think about it. Some people take the issue personally. They relate the legislation to their own children, grandchildren, relatives or other favorite kids.

  • Parents have right to opt children out of standardized testing

    There is a lot of misinformation circulating regarding the upcoming Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test (PARCC) that will be administered to students from grades 3-11 this spring. I want to clarify the options parents have in deciding to opt their children out of taking this test.
    Many of you have expressed concern and, indeed, dissatisfaction with the intensity of the current amount of standardized testing taking place in our schools.
    One of the top concerns I share is the elimination of a parent’s right in deciding whether or not their child has to take the test. I was appalled to be notified that school districts are intentionally telling parents that they cannot “opt out” their children from taking standardized tests.
    This blatant effort to misinform parents is a violation of a parent’s right to choose what is best for their children and it is unacceptable. Our children must not be used as leverage in a misguided national trend of high-stakes testing in public education.
    The fact is, according to the United States 14th Amendment of the Constitution, parents do have a say, and their rights are protected by Supreme Court decisions, especially in the area of education. It is their right to choose to have their children take these tests or not.

  • Letters to the editor 2-24-15

    Dems want a ‘Ready-to-Work’ state

    Last week at the Capitol building in Santa Fe, something really exciting happened. The Senate Democrats unveiled an economic development plan for New Mexico that they call “Ready-to-Work.”
    The Ready-to-Work plan would capitalize on the strengths of New Mexico and New Mexicans and create more than 73,000 jobs.
    Thousands of workers in our state have all the skills and the drive that good employers want today. They are Ready-to-Work, but the jobs are not available.
    That’s why our caucus is rolling out an economic development plan that develops strong measures to get help to working people in our state by attracting new employers and creating more home-grown jobs now.
    Our Ready-to-Work plan is a package of bills being proposed by senators from around the state. It includes bills to spur job creation, and also bills that create opportunities for economic development in our rural communities. It focuses infrastructure investments that support jobs and bring economic development to the state.
    Ready-to-Work includes bills that help our lowest-income residents to fully participate in the growth and opportunities our great state offers and rewards them for their hard work.

  • Technology does transfer

    This column’s continuing theme is that we don’t know the New Mexico economy.
    That idea got a boost, presumably inadvertent, from Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.
    “Those numbers blew me away,” he said. “That’s more than half a billion dollars that ripples annually though our entire community and economy.”
    Heinrich was speaking recently at the announcement of a $536 million, 836-job economic impact of the Air Force Research Laboratory on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque.
    Perhaps Heinrich’s surprise should not surprise. After all, two of the five topic headers on his website talk about “Building a Prosperous Energy Future” and “Growing New Mexico’s Outdoor Recreation Economy.”
    A third topic was Heinrich’s new spot of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
    Expecting much technology transfer from the Research Laboratory is fantasy. It is in the “warfighting technologies” business, as its website says.
    In 1993, Al Narath, then president of Sandia National Laboratories, explained the continuing overall reality of national laboratory technology transfer. He asked the rhetorical question of all the science here as contrasted to our low economic rankings.

  • What’s next for the Keystone pipeline?

    After six years of dithering, the Keystone pipeline project has finally cleared both the Senate and the House with strong bipartisan support — mere percentage points away from a veto-proof majority. Now it goes to the White House where President Barack Obama has vowed to veto it.
    The Keystone pipeline should have never been an issue in Congress. Because it crosses an international border, the pipeline requires State Department approval.
    With millions of miles of pipeline already traversing the country and dozens already crossing the U.S.-Canada border the Keystone pipeline should never have made news, except that Obama’s environmental base has made it the literal line in the sand.
    Within the president’s base, only two groups feel strongly about the Keystone pipeline — the unions want it, the environmentalists don’t. Each has pressured him to take its side.
    I’ve likened the conflict to the classic cartoon image of a devil on one shoulder prodding an activity saying, “Oh it will be fun, everyone is doing it,” vs. the angel on the other warning, “be careful, you’ll get into trouble.”