.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Today's Opinions

  • Letter to the editor 9-11-14

     

    Volunteer, inspire tomorrow’s leaders

    Girl members and adult volunteers alike benefit from their Girl Scout experiences. 

    How does a girl accomplish her goal of learning about robotics? Or defy gender stereotypes and become a firefighter, leading a team of other heroes? Or set in motion her dream of becoming a leader when opportunity seems like only a buzzword to her?

    How? It’s simple: Girl Scouts.
    About 30 years ago, my mother signed me up as a Girl Scout in our small hometown. She knew Girl Scouts would be a positive after school activity for me.

  • How much testing is enough and when is it too much?

    What do you remember fondly about your school days? When you look at photos that capture these early years in school, you remember how nervous you were in your carrot costume before your big part in the school play. You remember how proud you felt standing next to your blue-ribbon science fair project. Oh! There you are with the turkey you colored after tracing your little hand on a piece of paper.
    And you remember using a No. 2 pencil to bubble in multiple-choice answers on a test. OK, maybe a photo of this last one didn’t make it into your grandma’s album.
    There was a time not so long ago when students were given a comprehensive assessment at the end of third grade and eighth grade, and then took the ACT/SAT tests for college purposes. These were informational tests, telling parents what their children had achieved academically and how they compared to other students across the country.
    When the results came in from that big test, teachers gave their students a little more practice as needed, and parents may have pulled out the flash cards for a little extra help at home — and everyone remained focused on teaching and on raising whole children.

  • Do teachers have to be defiant to do their jobs?

    The special education teacher told me the kind of story you’d want to hear from a special education teacher.
    A girl in fifth grade couldn’t read and could barely speak. Nothing was working for her.
    The teacher found a reading program designed for autistic children and fought the bureaucracy to get approval to be trained in it. She gave the program to the girl and it worked. Other special education teachers have heard the story and are asking for the same program.
    She can’t fight any more, she says. She’s on a long leave of absence and may simply retire.
    I’ve been asking New Mexico teachers how they are faring in the brave new world of public education. My question: Is there still room for creativity or spontaneity in teaching? Are they able to bring their own ideas and abilities into their activities? Can they to respond to whatever is happening, in the world or in that classroom, regardless of what’s on the day’s official task list?
    The first thing to know is this: Nobody’s happy. The problem, they say, is testing, testing, testing.
    We’ve all been hearing these complaints: Too many days spent on testing itself, too many more days devoted to teaching just for the tests, and test results applied not to improve students’ education, but to grade teachers.

  • Bartlit 'spot-on' as always

    John Bartlit’s Sunday column, “Eyes on gold, oil … rare earths,” provided a perfectly balanced, non-opinionated, review of the strategic and economic importance of the 17 named rare-earth elements to the United States.
    As the world’s population continues to grow at an exponential rate anyone reading through the lists of where rare-earths are utilized by modern-day industry can see immediately their importance for the defense industry, computing, the generation of several different forms of solar energy etc.
    He also points out in no uncertain terms that currently the world’s major supply and associated cost is dominated by China and other growing foreign sources. With Russia’s recent embargoes on fuel supplies to EU and former Soviet States in mind we obviously need to concentrate on developing and retaining our own rare-earth resources.
    Once again recycling of used rare-earth containing products is an absolute national must.
    The rare-earths have the ability to react and form compounds/alloys with every known element except most of the noble-gases (helium, argon etc.).
    This made studying them during the 1960s and early-1970s extremely difficult because of the cost and almost impossibility of isolating them as pure metals.

  • More response to Milder's letter

    Ken Milder’s letter encouraging voters to vote down Question 2 on the November ballot has some incorrect and/or misleading statements regarding the revisions proposed to Article V of the Los Alamos County Charter that address the operation and oversight of the Department of Public Utilities (DPU).
    Although it is true that the language in Question 2 appears to be completely new, the text of roughly half of Article V is actually not new, but rather just rearranged for clarity and to separate fundamental issues so that they are not co-mingled, as they are in the current Article V document.
    More importantly, Mr. Milder suggests that under the new charter, council will be able to use the DPU to generate “hidden” revenue for the county, by forcing the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to raise utility rates and then transfer these funds into the county budget. However, the dispute resolution process in the proposed Article V requires two public meetings and a 5 out of 7 vote by council before council can require the Board to increase utility rates, or force DPU to transfer utility funds to the county. That hardly qualifies as a “hidden” rate increase.

  • Sky's the limit on small-loan interest rates in New Mexico

    Payday loans, title loans, signature loans. New Mexico has more than 656 small lenders operating in nearly every town. On a nearby street, they’re so thick they perch next to one another, like turkey vultures on a snag.
    There’s a small argument to be made for their services, but they’re basically a drain on the economy.
    Lawmakers have tried to get a handle on small lenders since at least 1999, but we haven’t seen much impact. In 2007, the Legislature cracked down by limiting payday loans to 35 days, prohibiting indefinite loan rollovers, and capping interest rates at 400 percent. The small lenders just found ways around it.
    Cash Loans Now and American Cash Loans (with offices in Albuquerque, Farmington and Hobbs) avoided the net by shifting from payday lending to signature loans, which require no collateral.
    In 2009, the attorney general sued the two companies for predatory lending and for an interest rate in excess of 1,400 percent a year. On June 26, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of borrowers. The interest rate, said both courts, was “unconscionable.” One borrower earned $9 an hour at a grocery store; the $100 loan had a finance charge of $1,000. Another, earning $10.71 at a hospital, got a $200 loan with a finance charge of $2,160.

  • Letter to the editor 9-7-14

     

    A response to Milder’s letter

    I am responding to Ken Milder’s letter on Sept. 5. The county charter was passed nearly a half-century ago.

    The provisions governing the utilities department are flawed because they (1) do not allow effective oversight of the utilities operations by the council, which is accountable to the voters and the law for these operations, (2) there is no way for the council to hold the utilities board or the utilities director accountable for mismanagement or poor performance and (3) most important, there is no way to resolve disagreements over policy between the council and the utilities board. It is high time these flaws be corrected; the proposed changes do so in a way that has the smallest possible impact on the operations of the utility department.

  • Eyes on gold, oil ... rare earths

     

     A prized few of the Earth’s marvels have had astonishing effects on world history, geography, discovery, economics and politics. Great reaches of the globe’s long, winding road from the past were built to gain access to gold and silver, spices, silk and oil. 

    In like manner, the years ahead will be marked by the pursuit of rare earths. 

    Rare earths are a group of 17 natural elements whose properties meet growing needs in the 21st century. Rare earths have strange old names and strange new uses. They are vital for building high-tech military and green technologies.

    Dysprosium, erbium, europium, gadolinium, neodymium, praseodymium and yttrium are used in cruise missiles, smart bombs, guidance systems and night vision technology.