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Today's Opinions

  • CTE works in New Mexico; it deserves support

    BY REP. TIM LEWIS
    R-Rio Rancho

    With the beginning of the school year upon us, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the big picture. The ultimate goal of K-12 education is to give students the skills they need to become contributing members of society. 

    For years, academic success meant graduating from high school and enrolling in a four-year university or college. It’s time to rethink that definition of success in New Mexico.

    Disparaging New Mexico’s public education system has become the norm in our state. Although much of the criticism is justified, what if I told you that New Mexico is excelling in one area of education? 

    The numbers don’t lie: New Mexico’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are doing an outstanding job in keeping students engaged and graduating them from high school. Students who choose to enroll in CTE courses are more likely to make it to graduation. 

    According to a 2016 study by Fordham University, students who focus on a CTE career pathway increase their chances of graduating by 21 percentage points. The average high school graduation rate for CTE-focused students is 9%.

  • Vaping becoming public health crisis in schools

    BY DR. KEVIN SABET
    President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana

    With the new school year upon us, it’s crucial parents and teachers talk to students about school safety. This year, the different threats to safety can seem overwhelming for parents. One new trend unfortunately picking up steam in New Mexico’s schools is vaping and marijuana.

    Over the past 30 years, school health programs have put a premium on warning students about the harmful effects of cigarettes and alcohol.

    Now, vaping is rapidly becoming the latest public health crisis – delivering harmful, addictive substances to kids, some as young as middle school, undetected. It’s a two-fold problem.

    According to the National Institutes of Health, seven in 10 teens report being exposed to e-cigarette advertising. And it’s working. A recent study found “a dramatic increase” in youth vaping, with more than 37 percent of 12th-graders reporting vaping in the past year. According to data from the New Mexico Department of Health, almost one in four students between ninth and 12th grades reported using e-cigarettes in 2017.

  • Work to be done on both sides of the aisle

    The Boston Herald published this editorial Aug. 6 on what can be done to combat mass shootings after massacres in Texas and Ohio.

    Bullet-resistant backpacks are now being sold in major retail stores. The idea is that when the next school shooter opens fire in the hallway, fleeing children who are shot in the back will have a better chance of surviving.

    It is a new consideration that children and parents have to make in 2019: Is my child dressed for style? Is she dressed for weather? Is she dressed for war?

    The present condition is unacceptable. High-profile mass-shootings have become a normal occurrence and this weekend brought the scourge front and center when 31 were shot dead and more than 50 injured in Texas and Ohio.

    These were innocent victims out shopping or enjoying a vibrant entertainment district.

    It happens too often — laughter and joy turn to screams and horror.

    Something must be done and something can be done.

    Reacting to the shootings, Rep. Stephen Lynch got it right, saying, “I don’t know if there’s a single, one-hundred-percent solution, but there might be a hundred one-percent solutions.”

  • Thoughts and prayers are a start to healing

    There are some opinions I prefer to stay away from as a reader and these include anything that furthers hateful agendas.

    Whenever someone starts something off with “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” for instance, that is disrespectful.

    Even before the 2016 elections, many Democratic Party candidates and supporters declared their dislike for the term, “thoughts and prayers.”

    Former President Barack Obama referred to Americans who did not support him as “bitter clingers” in 2008.

    “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” he said.

    But using this term, “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” has become a rallying cry, repeated over and over on social media and elsewhere by leaders or thousands of everyday keyboard activists.

    In my opinion, it is just another way to disrespect your neighbors and entire swaths of the population. It is passive-aggressive trash talk. For me, I think it is also a way for the person writing the phrase to put down Christians as a lower class of people.

  • Good to be reminded that what I have is plenty

    BY BETTY WILLIAMSON
    Quay County Sun

    TUCUMCARI — I was visiting with a new acquaintance recently in her lovely home in Portales.

    During the afternoon, as we sipped ice water and munched on cookies she’d baked earlier in the day, she twice used a word that rarely makes it into conversations anymore.

    In fact, I can’t think of the last time I’ve heard anyone use it.

    It’s not a challenging or unusual word. It’s not even hard to spell.

    It was this: Content.

    I’m talking about the one with the accent on the second syllable; the one that my American Heritage Dictionary defines as, “Desiring no more than what one has; satisfied.”

    When this gracious woman welcomed me into her home, we walked past what turned out to be a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that was mostly completed.

    Picture puzzles came up in our visit.

    She gestured to that one and mentioned that she loves to get a cup of coffee first thing in the morning when her house is quiet and the day is just waking up. She settles next to that puzzle and sips her coffee and fits in a few pieces.

    “I just feel so content,” she said.

  • On the cusp of changes in public education

    BY TOM MCDONALD
    Gazette Media Services

    SANTA ROSA — Up until recently, it’s been pretty much a seamless takeover.

    Worn out by Susana Martinez’s can’t-do/won’t do policies as governor toward issues like clean energy, full marijuana legalization and public education, voters made their voices heard in New Mexico with the resounding election of Michelle Lujan Grisham last year. Since then she’s been pushing the state in a far more progressive direction — touting education reform as her top priority.

    Last month, however, Lujan Grisham took an unexpected turn when she fired her Public Education Department (PED) secretary, Karen Trujillo, after just six months on the job. The reasons given for her dismissal were general and vague: in a statement, Lujan Grisham said her expectations “were not met in a number of areas” and that she needs a “vibrant and ambitious new leader” for PED. In the interim, until she names a permanent secretary to the position, Deputy Secretary Kara Bobroff will head up the department as the state moves into the 2019-20 school year.

  • Will anything be done after recent mass shootings?

    BY DOUGLAS AND DOROTHY REILLY
    Guest Opinion

    Much is said and printed in the Media of the incidents in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton; all three occurred within a week, and the last two within 24 hours. The big question is will anything be done?

    The basic problem is the absurd number of guns in the USA; our country has over 11 times as many guns per 100 citizens as the average of the rest of the world.

    There are about 88 gun deaths per day in the USA. Barely 2 percent of these are mass shootings, over 80 percent are suicides, and the rest domestic arguments, police shootings, and accidents. The availability of a gun makes a suicide or a domestic incident much more likely to result in death.

    After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, much was said, but nothing was done. My wife and I believe the same lack of action will occur here.

    We’re not protesting guns for hunting. In New Mexico, as other areas, hunting provides winter food for many families.

    When we lived in northern Italy, we learned licensed hunters had to keep their rifles or shotguns in the questura, police station, except during hunting season.

    The reaction of the students at the Parkland school and elsewhere may force some action. Disarming the public is not conceivable; however, some steps might be taken.

  • Paddy Martinez, who discovered uranium, died 50 years ago

    Paddy Martinez, of San Mateo, died August 26, 1969, almost 50 years ago. He was 91. His moment of fame—actually a six-month moment—came in the July 1950 when he found rocks that were revealed months later as the first discovery of uranium ore found in New Mexico.

    These days the Martinez story has faded to three words: “a Navajo sheepherder.” This is the designation of the Grants Chamber of Commerce.

    Paddy was more than a sheepherder. He was something of a non-academic polymath, one of those people who knew and did everything.

    To start, he was smart enough to recognize that the rocks he saw might be (a) uranium and (b) of value and then (c) to do something about his discovery. These connections had escaped crowds of educated types scouring the area northwest of Grants to supply the federal government’s post World War II and Cold War uranium demand.

    The government had declared itself the only buyer. Martinez learned about the potential value of uranium by overhearing conversations, possibly at the Lux Motel or the Yucca Hotel.

    The number of sheep he had make him a rancher. He took the rocks to Grants businessman Carrol Gunderson, who forwarded them to the Santa Fe Railway, owner of the mineral rights.