Lost study time for children during the pandemic has the potential to do lasting harm not just to their own long-term prospects but to American prosperity in general. On average, children lost 116 days of reading time during the early stages of the pandemic last year and 215 days of math work—instruction that will be hard to regain and could leave a whole generation of children struggling to keep up in their studies and testing. Children in rural areas and areas with large Black and Hispanic populations were hit the hardest.
Albuquerque Public Schools has been steadily losing students for years and currently has 400 more teachers and staff members than it should. Yet student achievement, especially among “low-income students,” has faltered, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s time for school officials to right-size and seize opportunities to improve student performance, analysts for the powerful Legislative Finance Committee said in a sobering review released Wednesday. “Despite more funding, and fewer students, student outcomes in the district remain low and are getting worse,” lead LFC program evaluator Katie Dry told lawmakers. She noted that APS is the state’s largest school district, responsible for educating nearly a quarter of New Mexico students and for a similar percentage of the state’s public education budget.
Albuquerque has the 10th lowest student debt in the country, according to a LendingTree report. Washington, D.C was first among metros with high median student loan balances, where nearly 10 percent of loan holders owe more than $100,000. The cost of a four-year education has increased by five times in the last 20 years, and student-debt is a $1.5 trillion industry, a huge leap compared to $600 billion a decade ago, says LendingTree. The median balance of student debt in Albuquerque is $15,549. The average number of student loans held by a single person is 3.5. Nearly 19 percent of people in Albuquerque owe more than $50,000 and roughly 6 percent of people owe more than $100,000 in student-loan debt.
The New Mexico Public Education Department is launching a three-year training initiative for 10 high schools in the state. The schools chosen by PED are: West Mesa, Belen, Bernalillo, Cuba, Española Valley, Rocinante, Miyamura, Gilbert L Sena Charter, Health Leadership and Las Montanas Charter high schools. PED picked the schools, which were identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement or CSI, to be the first to partake in the inaugural New Mexico High School Redesign Network. Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski said the program aims to help the schools move out of CSI, a category for low-performing schools. One of the main goals of the redesign network is to help raise graduation rates, as the schools’ rates are below 67 percent.
As is typical with so many other policies, federal meddling in what should be a local matter leads to poor results. This is the conclusion reached Monday by a Heritage Foundation panel about a school discipline initiative, launched by the Obama administration, that suddenly became the subject of national debate after the Feb. 14 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Earlier this week, CBS’ “60 Minutes” grilled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on why she supports the idea that families like the Richardsons should be able to choose where and how their children learn. Reporter Lesley Stahl said traditional public schools are doing better today at educating students, and that allowing families to make choices results in less money for traditional schools. Stahl didn’t provide evidence for these claims, so her line of questioning is worth a closer look.
State universities are riding a surge in donations and investment returns that have outpaced the growth reported by most of the wealthiest private schools in the nation. If only their students were enjoying the fruits of those fundraising efforts. Education experts say the apparent disconnect stems from repeated rounds of state cuts to higher ed budgets that have forced university administrators to use fundraising and endowment returns to offset the recent financial pinch. As such, their endowments since 2015 have ballooned at nearly double the average rate — 12.9 percent versus 6.7 percent — reported by dozens of the most competitive private schools in America.
For almost 30 years, New Mexico has maintained an iron grip on the bottom rung of key rankings. Why is it that even when the state makes improvements in education, health care or the economy, we barely budge? Each year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks the 50 states on issues of child well-being. The report is a widely used measure of children’s health and education, and of the economic and social well-being of families. New Mexico was No. 49 this year, a notch above Mississippi.
Emile Nakhleh, a retired CIA senior intelligence officer, wants to build on that history and tap into that expertise, along with a wealth of university knowledge and talent, as he and others work to establish a Global and National Security Institute at the University of New Mexico. “The Institute is designed to equip its graduates with a blending of concepts from technology, history, policy and culture,” Abdallah said. “The skills learned within the institute and similar ones will become ever more critical to dealing with and adapting to an increasingly changing and uncertain future.” The payoff for UNM would be graduates with a competitive edge for employment in the intelligence community and the U.S. government, or with companies doing work in national security.
A persistently high child poverty rate in New Mexico continues to offset slight improvements in some indicators of child well-being, according to the 2017 New Mexico Kids Count Data Book, just released by New Mexico Voices for Children and timed for the opening day of the state Legislature. The state rates 49th overall in child well-being, with only Mississippi faring worse.