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Today's Opinions

  • Looking ahead

    This is the final article on why I am running for re-election to the Los Alamos Public Schools Board.  My first article provided basic information about LAPS as an institution, the Board, and some major accomplishments of the Board and administration. The second article focused on current issues facing LAPS. This article focuses on my compelling vision: the staff, programs, parents, and community working together to enable all students to love learning, have great skills, and know basic facts.
    LAPS has three major challenges that have to be addressed in progressing toward this vision: funding, the technology revolution’s impact on learning, and student and staff well-being.  Each is discussed below.
    Funding first: Over 90 percent of school operational funds are allocated to school districts based on a complex state formula. Local communities cannot vote for additional operating funds, and our state budget, heavily dependent on oil and gas production and federal funds, may be constrained for years to come. Yet LAPS must increase compensation for all employees, grow program diversity, and maintain our commitment to long term fiscal stability and educational excellence.  

  • How do you get middle school girls hooked on STEM?

    Although women comprise a small fraction of tech professionals—just one in four, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology —several nonprofits and startups are working to jumpstart women’s participation in computer science.

    In a previous column, I considered Grace Hopper Academy, a New York City coding bootcamp designed explicitly for women. GHA’s sister school, Fullstack Academy, takes that program online with a Remote Immersive program. Most recently, I examined how the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) has expanded female educational access in sub-Saharan Africa using big data. But what about middle school girls here in the United States?

    Middle school is perhaps the most prudent place to promote female participation in STEM, according to several studies. Given that many girls rule out tech careers by high school, educators and administrators would be wise to pique student interest before it’s too late. A Philadelphia-based non-profit called TechGirlz takes that challenge seriously.

  • Diversifying economy means action, not words

    An unflattering picture of President Trump appears a few pages from the end of Jerry Pacheco’s current presentation about the Santa Teresa Port of Entry with Mexico. Above the photo are the words, “The future?”
    No other state has as much at stake these days as does New Mexico with the stuff about Mexico coming from Washington, D.C., Pacheco says.
    People along the United States-Mexico border are uncertain—that’s the nicest way to put it—as they look into a murky future reflecting the outlandish, absurd Trump statements about tariffs, the NAFTA treaty, and building a wall along the border.
    Mexicans are angry, insulted. Public statements are few, though, lest a firm provoke one of Trump’s nasty Twitter comments.
    Pacheco has a constantly evolving Santa Teresa presentation because he is president of the Border Industrial Association (nmbia.org), which, with 115 members, has become New Mexico’s largest industrial association. He is also executive director of the International Business Accelerator (nmiba.com), part of the state’s small business development center network.

  • In final decisions, we’re kinder to our dogs and cats

    I came home from dinner one evening and found my dog lying on the kitchen floor. She couldn’t get up. After I helped her up, she couldn’t walk.
    My dog was old. Her back legs had been weakening for months. She couldn’t see or hear much, was experiencing dementia, and was showing clear evidence of pain.
    I had been preparing myself for the difficult decision I would have to make some day. Did I say difficult? Heart wrenching.
    Our pets are so lucky. When they are too sick or too infirm and their lives are mostly suffering, we can arrange for them to die peacefully, painlessly and almost instantly, with the help of a compassionate veterinarian and some drugs. It’s been said this is the most loving thing we can do for our beloved pets.
    So I’ll point out a truth you might have heard a hundred times. In this most crucial matter, we can be kinder to our dogs and cats than we are allowed to be to our own families. New Mexico law does not allow us to help each other to die in peace.

  • Trump, Mexico and the art of the deal

    BY BOB HAGAN
    Coffee on a Cold Morning

  • ABQ income rank down, Mora income up and people still leaving

    Topics this week: How many of us are there? How has our population changed? How much money do we make in each county? Population numbers come from the Census Bureau. Money numbers are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    A non-federal number gets us started. Albuquerque’s population is projected to be 919,854 as of Jan. 1, 2018, up a slight 5,028, or 0.5 percent, from 914,826 to start 2017. The figures come from American City Business Journals, publisher of “Albuquerque Business First,” a weekly. Love the specificity. Also the immediacy.
    Translated, Albuquerque’s population will be flat for 2017. Presumably this is metro Albuquerque, though American City doesn’t say.
    The federal numbers folks aren’t much into projecting. They wait a while for some early figures to supply the computers. The newest federal numbers are for July 1, 2016.
    New Mexico’s population grew 687 from July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016. That means no growth at all, maybe even a decline because the miniscule 687 is an estimate within a range. The “growth” happened only because busy New Mexicans added more babies to the population – an estimated 25,491 during the 2015-2016 year – than there were subtractions because people died. The gain was 7,692.

  • Two New Mexico cities put values on display

    How do you want people to think about your community?
    If you live in Carlsbad, the nation currently knows your town through a Facebook post. If you live in Santa Fe, the nation has heard about Santa Fe’s declaration as a sanctuary city.
     In case you were abducted by aliens, Carlsbad City Councilor J. R. Doporto said on Facebook: “Just want to give a heads up to the women! You have rights! A right to cook and a right to clean. Today is Sunday and the NFL playoffs our (sic) on! I suggest you stop your b!tch!ng/protesting during this time. Because you also have a right to get slapped!”
    For that, he lost his job.
    Doporto has said he was just joking and claims his right to freedom of speech has been violated. His wife says he’s a good husband and father.
    I’m not going to rant about the post – plenty of other people have done that. My concern – and I write about this periodically – is how New Mexico is perceived on the outside.
    Doporto’s post made news all over New Mexico and, after Cox Media Group and the Huffington Post picked it up, across the nation. For a community that’s dependent in part on tourists, this isn’t healthy.

  • Letters to the Editor 2-01-17

    Jim Hall has leadership that is needed on school board

    Voters in the Piñon district have a choice that one wishes every voter would always have, namely, two excellent candidates. I have had the pleasure to work with Jim Hall and Ellen Ben-Naim. They are both dedicated public servants who care deeply about our students, teachers, and schools.
    If I were eligible to vote, I’d give my nod to Jim Hall. Jim has a remarkable set of experiences from leading business computing at the lab to serving as the State Chief Information Officer, to serving as a county councilor, our state representative, and president of the school board. Jim is also a successful businessman and property developer, who serves on the board of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation. He understands budgets and information technology from both a private and public sector perspective. His breadth of knowledge is an invaluable asset for governing our schools, especially in times of resource constraints and changing needs for our students and teachers to meet the challenges of the 21st century.