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Talk of the Town


Home Visits Give Children Head Start

STEPHEN SPITZ’S letter on Jan. 18 clearly identified the best way that New Mexico can improve our education system. Beginning the New Mexico education process when a baby is “in utero” gives the parents the best opportunities to make healthy and educated decisions about how to take care of their unborn baby. During the prenatal stage of life, positive or negative things can happen which will affect the long-term possibility of the child’s success or failure.

Funding “home visiting programs” is an essential component of increasing the odds that a child will reach his or her potential within our school system and in life. The key trait of the “home visitation programs” is teaching the parents about the “best practices” of caring for the baby within the womb, caring for the baby, the toddler and then the preschooler. The first three years of a child’s life is when the basic foundation of their cognitive, spiritual, emotional, physical and social skills and abilities is developed. A foundation ensures that a building can be constructed, and so with a child, their future can be built on the foundation established during the first three years of the child’s life.

Parents are the primary teachers of their children. Parents are the main influence in the outcome of child rearing. Children need to be nurtured, supported and loved. When a baby is born, the parents might not have all the “tools” and “knowledge” of how to raise their child. Home visiting programs give parents the opportunity to learn, develop and apply developmental child rearing skills in their everyday world.

The investment in these early years will pay off in dividends for the child’s future and for New Mexico’s future. Let’s wisely invest funds into home visiting programs to influence some life-long changes in parents and with their children.


Early Childhood Specialist


Focus on Education Inputs, Not Outputs

GRADUATION RATES and test scores are what I call outcomes. To be sure, they are miserable. But focusing on them encourages needless and useless hand-wringing (and) controversy and encourages gaming the numbers in various ways.

Instead, we should focus on inputs. That is, we should measure the time and effort students are actually expending on mastering the various subjects. For example, we should measure the number of arithmetic operations performed and equations and problems solved by students. We should measure the number of pages read by students and the degree of difficulty. We should attempt to measure the hours of homework performed by students.

By building an input history for each student, we could identify students who are putting forth too little effort to master the material. I believe the effect would be to encourage more effort and eventually, much better outcomes.

I suspect students are expending far too little effort actually working to learn compared to a generation or two ago. Memorization, recitations, repetition and drills have been largely removed from schools. The result is that when more advanced material is encountered, such as algebra and geometry, our students lack the foundation required. Students become frustrated, angry and later become resigned to failure. This is how dropouts are made.

To have better outcomes, we need better inputs.



UNM Takes Cake for Useless Degrees

I’LL BET THE employers of New Mexico are waiting breathlessly for UNM to start pumping out graduates of Chicana and Chicano studies. Especially those grads with a minor in gender and sexuality. New Mexico is always near the bottom of meaningful national statistics but it appears that in our national race to idiocy, we may be leading the pack.

Before you complain that I don’t understand the plight of La Gente, my Hispanic roots here go back over 350 years. I was raised in a bilingual and bi-cultural environment and our family has all done pretty good for themselves. I’ll be the first to admit that contributions of Hispanics to the founding of this country have been given short shrift, but the place to address that is in U.S. History.

Hopefully the UNM regents will have the fortitude to use the chopping block for this program rather than add another inane degree for taxpayers to fund.


Rio Rancho

Mausoleum Beautiful to Some

RE: Leslie Linthicum UpFront column, “Flowerless Cemetery Feels Cold”

My daughter Melanie Guillen is interred in the mausoleum at Gate of Heaven Cemetery. The mausoleum is a beautiful, dignified, clean resting place for our beloved only child. The maintenance and upkeep is very much to our satisfaction, (so) much so, that we have secured our crypts at Gate of Heaven.

We spend time visiting and praying for our daughter and appreciate the clean and orderly space afforded us for these visits. Each family that has a loved one is afforded its own space, and out of respect for other families space, we understand and abide by the policies at Gate of Heaven regarding fresh flowers, which after a few days are an eyesore, and also keeping other mementos to a minimum.

Removal every 30 days of artificial floral arrangements and mementos that are commonly placed at the sites by relatives in my opinion is to prevent overflow. I have seen one arrangement turn into two, then three. Pretty soon there is infringement into someone else’s space. Relatives are given the option of removing items and returning them the following month.

I understand the beauty of fresh flowers, but, visit the National Cemetery five days after Memorial Day and witness the beautiful manicured grounds strewn with wilted shedding flowers.

Ms. Linthicum painted a gloomy picture at Gate of Heaven and then posted a beautiful picture of the mausoleum with some beautiful artificial flowers.



Cemetery Should Change Rules

I HAVE TRIED on several occasions to contact someone about the removal of flowers also. I can understand removing seasonal decorations but most of us who go on a regular basis change the flowers out each season so that would not be a problem as far as spiders building nests. If everything is kept clean the spiders won’t be around to build nests.

I live out of town and try to go and see my father whenever I am in Albuquerque, I also take flowers and before the new rule I would remove the old ones and put new ones. Now I feel like I am wasting my time since sometimes I am there a day or so before cleanup so the flowers are only there a day or so and gone.

The rules are great if you live close by and can go once a month to replace your flowers but when you only visit every few months due to distance it makes it a little hard. I have never seen anything unsightly at Mt. Calvary where my dad is and I have made several calls and always been told, that’s the way it is, tough luck. It would be wonderful if enough people would get together and get the rules changed. After all we are the owners they are supposedly working — for the people who have bought the crypts.



Was Anti-Cop Writer Serious?

RE: JIM Steeves letter, “People, Don’t Be So Quick To Trust Cops,” Jan. 17

I believe in the right to voice an opinion, but with that, comes responsibility. Mr. Steeves’ letter about being careful about trusting police officers is patently ludicrous. The caricature of what he perceives police officers to be is so disingenuous, hateful and disrespectful. I honestly could not tell if Mr. Steeves was being sarcastic or if he was being truthful. In any event, the contents of his letter were uncalled for. Quite frankly, I am dismayed that the Journal would print such an asinine letter. Until Mr. Steeves has walked a mile in a police officer’s shoes, I suggest he just keep his hate-speech to himself.


Retired APD Sergeant


Do Cops Really Aim to Serve, Protect?

WE’RE SUPPOSED to trust those who “serve and protect.” When’s the last time you saw that on a cop car?



Higher Wages Have Many Benefits

YOUR EDITORIAL on the proposed Bernalillo County wage hike only mentioned the positive effects for workers. Not only should higher wages contribute to generally better living standards for workers, but this also in turn should help local businesses and build the local tax base. The higher wage should also narrow the income gap and benefit low-paid workers with little bargaining power. Higher wages also can reduce the need for government assistance. Minimum wage increases can result in reduced absenteeism, less turnover and overall stronger morale in employees.



Cliff Letter Full of Misinformation

A LETTER BY Gary Hays, “Fiscal Cliff a Political Fabrication,”in the Jan. 15 Journal illustrates why I voted Democratic in the last election.

First, as is common in right-wing letters, he begins with name-calling — “the radical partisan ideology of the White House.”

Then, though he is correct that the fiscal “cliff” really was more like a long slope, he makes a couple of false statements to bolster his argument. He claims that most of the tax increase would not hit until 2014 — not true. Taxes would have gone up immediately, and though not strictly payable until 2014, income taxes for most of us are deducted out of each paycheck, starting now, and once deducted, you can’t get that back until tax time next year.

He also claims that most federal programs go up 8 percent a year, whether Congress votes on them or not. I have no idea where he got such a ridiculous idea. I’ve worked for a couple of government agencies, and I assure you their budgets — and my pay — did not go up each year. In fact, our budgets were often cut by one Congress and restored by another.

In addition, simple math would show that anything that goes up 8 percent a year doubles each nine years, quadruples each 18, and so on. At that rate, the budget for the parks department would soon eclipse the national debt.

Name-calling, bad data and bad math. And that’s why I didn’t vote Republican.



Here’s a New Job for Republicans

REGARDING THE latest Republican budget fix, announced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Jan. 3, to defund a Forest Service hot air balloon: first Big Bird, now Smokey Bear. Who’s next?

Is this the declaration of a new Republican war on children’s icons?

Who would replace them? Would Rush Limbaugh greet visitors to Disneyland for Mickey Mouse? Grover Norquist pal around with Tigger and Roo in place of Winnie the Pooh? David and Charles Koch inhabit Sesame Street instead of Bert and Ernie?

The party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan could, with little prompting, become the party of Peter Pan, Donald Duck and Elmer Fudd.



Deny Illegal Immigrants Licenses

RE: SEN. Pete Campos on the REAL ID Act

Campos needs to stop wasting everyone’s time with his “idea” about another way to patch a broken and nationally embarrassing driver’s license system. Maybe he and his fellow legislators should just fix the driver’s license system that we have instead of attempting to add more bureaucracy and complication to the process. If this is too difficult for our esteemed legislators to comprehend and craft, then perhaps they could “borrow” the system used by another state that actually complies with the Real ID Act. Would that be so difficult? Hopefully we’re not going to see more partisan politics get in the way of progress for yet another legislative session.

During the past year, the Albuquerque Journal cited numerous instances of abuse by groups seeking to provide licenses to illegal aliens. Campos fails to acknowledge that type of activity but it continues to exist and it’s rampant. It won’t stop until the Legislature enacts a responsible solution for our current dilemma.

Campos’ declaration that “New Mexico wisely decided a decade ago to issue driver’s licenses to New Mexicans regardless of their immigration status” exposes more flawed thinking; how can an individual whose “immigration status” is illegal be a New Mexican?

When will Campos and the rest of our legislators come to the reality that people who are in the state illegally — regardless of nationality — should not be able to get an N.M. driver’s license?



Where Are Our Health Priorities?

YOU HAVE to be kidding me! My tax dollars supporting 1,600 pounders who sit on their butts eating Twinkies while I pay for a gym membership and healthy food? I’ll think twice before I ever make a donation in a firefighter’s boot again.



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