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Community must see to attendance

RE: LARRY LARRANAGA’S Feb. 24 op-ed supporting the suspension of teen driver’s licenses who are truant from school:

Denying drivers licenses to high-schoolers who do not attend school is like closing the barn door after the horse has already escaped. Habitual absence from school among our students begins at a very early age.

A previous (column by Lance Chilton) in the Albuquerque Journal referred to a study conducted by the National Center for Children in Poverty and made the point (that high school dropouts had 60 percent more absences in first grade than high school graduates.)

The point is that social promotion, lax enforcement of truancy laws and community ambivalence means pervasive absenteeism and that many students who enter the high school are not prepared for high school work.

We need to hold families responsible to making sure their children receive the best education available. As a community we need to have a serious conversation without politics and commit to full attendance in school.

ALAN KORCE

Santa Fe

Show students the value of education

I READ REP. Larry Larranga’s op-ed with great concern. As a person who has been a teacher and teacher educator for nearly 40 years, often in urban settings, I find our reliance on and belief in punitive solutions to be both useless and naive. As a punishment or incentive, losing one’s license matters little, as we see with many DUI cases, because people often just drive without their licenses.

Second, the imposition of a punishment to students who skip school with great regularity is likely to be of little or no concern to them. Similarly, we have seen historically the failure of suspension as a corrective strategy. Most importantly, however, these penalties do not address the root causes of truancy: poverty, ill health, early parenthood and, most crucial of all, the fact that school as it’s currently structured does not meet the intellectual, practical and social needs of young people. They often perceive school as having no relevance to their lives or find it unchallenging and boring.

As educators, we need to step up to provide the type of education that today’s youth will find meaningful. Some of our alternative schools, with altered schedules, project-centered learning and options for young parents, are striving to do so, but their efforts cannot possibly meet the needs of all the truant students. Other options, such as schools-within-schools, building functioning advisory systems, having one team of teachers dealing with the same cohort of students for a year or more, collaborating with other agencies that address poverty and homelessness, are all things to consider.

We can preach all we want about what students should do, about jobs, college and the global economy, but until we show students the value of those goals and involve them in bridging the gap between their lives and talents and the culture of schools, we will not go too far in actually bringing young people back into school.

MARTHA TRUDEAU TUCKER

Albuquerque

No grounds for negative article

RE: THOM COLE (column on the) governor’s use of helicopter

Get a life Thom! Even one of the governor’s adversaries that knows the law has stated that the governor broke no law! Just because you and your liberal friends don’t like the governor and her administration’s success you must think it is your job to throw mud at any hint of a misstep !

KEITH DOTSON

Rio Rancho

Helicopter use excuse is ‘hogwash’

THE GOVERNOR’S explanation for her use of the state helicopter for her personal use is hogwash, to put it nicely. She only needed to use it to go to a political function and get there when she wanted to be there. There was no purpose of her leaving the finance committee meeting at 3:15 – which is part of the workday – except (for) personal use, nothing in it for the state of New Mexico.

She is using the “it’s not against the law” defense but what about ethical and moral issues. I think she must not have any ethics to have the N.M. taxpayers paying for this without any reimbursement from her or her political friends.

Is this what we want in a governor? I think not.

ROBERTA ADAMS

Placitas

Wildlife management reform needed

CHAIRMAN SCOTT Bidegain’s resignation from the New Mexico Game Commission for his alleged involvement in an illegal cougar killing is the latest sign that wildlife management in New Mexico needs reforming. He was already under fire for participating in a Nevada coyote-killing contest. Hopefully his seat will not be filled by yet another scofflaw who enjoys using animals for live target practice, but there is no guarantee.

New Mexico ranks fourth among the states in the number of plant and animal species within our boundaries. Yet we entrust stewardship of this extraordinary natural heritage to a seven-member Game Commission, whose members are appointed by the governor and who by law are not required to hold even a high school degree, much less any expertise in conservation.

Until the Legislature acts to take oversight of New Mexico’s wildlife out of the hands of a handful of political appointees, it will be up to local governments to step up and protect our state’s wildlife.

That is exactly what the city of Las Cruces did (recently). By a 6-0 vote, the City Council passed a resolution opposing coyote-killing contests, saying they “encourage the wanton and unnecessary killing of New Mexico’s wildlife.”

Hopefully other communities will follow suit, sending a message the Legislature can’t ignore. It’s time to take protection of New Mexico’s wildlife seriously.

KEVIN BIXBY

Executive Director, Southwest Environmental Center

Las Cruces

Removing trap from dog a nightmare

I WAS THE ONE hiking with two dogs when one was caught in a trap set about 50 feet from the Continental Divide Trail off Cottage San Road outside Silver City. It was a horrific scene as the dog went into a panic biting at the trap, biting at me and trying to free itself. I was able to grab the Jack Russell and wrestle him down with the trap on his leg and calmed him till he was in a state of shock. Then with one hand holding the dog’s head down I tried to release the trap. My clothes were full of blood from the dog attacking the trap and me.

N.M. Game and Fish produced a rescue video because of the high number of these instances. While I appreciate the video of how to release a dog from a trap as a guide; I wish I too had a “dummy” dog like in the video. It is actually quite horrific to try and take a trap off a terrified thrashing dog in the wild by yourself.

I contacted Game and Fish and they were not able to respond immediately because the officer was in Pinos Altos with a couple who also had a dog in a trap where the owner was bitten by her own terrified dog. Unfortunately I removed the trap from the location. I should have left it there so it could have been verified that it was too close to “The Continental Divide trail.”

I understand the trapper was cited for a technical violation regarding the closing mechanism. Anyway, what kind of person puts a trap next to a trail – not any old trail – but the Continental Divide Trail? What kind of state would allow this?

furious here in the Land of Entrapment.

STEPHEN TOWNLEY

Silver City

We should be concerned with fracking

IF OKLAHOMA’S recent earthquakes are any indication the short term effects of fracking can’t be good. Worse still, as the hypocrisy of Exxon’s former CEO Rex Tillerson demonstrates, big oil and gas shows zero concern for the long-term consequences of fracking and the mess they leave behind.

The toxic vacuum created by fracking below the level of people’s underground drinking water supplies can and has destroyed those resources.

When fracking compels folks to relocate against their will it’s time to go with solar and wind technology now and in the future.

ROBERT MOSELEY

Albuquerque

Wait for DOE to find plutonium source

DON HANCOCK, long-time WIPP opponent, darkly hints that the trace of plutonium detected by an air sampler half a mile away from the site must mean that there’s a lot of the stuff blowing around inside. Isn’t it a bit early to say that? No one knows where that plutonium came from. No one. Let’s wait for the DOE to re-enter and do a proper survey before attacking them.

FRANKLIN HALASZ

Albuquerque

Group’s opinions offered as fact

KUDOS TO DR. Vern Loose for his insightful critique regarding J. Paul Gessing and the Rio Grande Foundation and how their opinions are presented as fact. I, too, have been puzzled why they seem to dominate news space and taken precedence over other more reliable conservative sources.

Again, Gessing has every right to promote his views and ideas but so often his data and information is subjective and highly misleading. His opinion piece from the Feb. 17 Journal edition stating, “Unfortunately, there is no evidence that raising the minimum wage positively impacts inequality” is another one. I can point to any number of respected economists and think tanks that will easily and convincingly challenge that assertion. Readers deserve better from the Journal.

DOMINIC MANDEL

Santa Fe

Let’s talk about the cycle of abuse

ON THE FRONT page of the Feb. 19 Journal, the headline read, “Report: Omaree’s mom also abused.” I felt optimistic for just a moment as I thought to myself, “Well, they are stating the obvious and maybe now we will be addressing the real issue of abuse-family cycles!”

I understand the public outcry including the Legislature’s most quick response to fix a broken system that will help prevent another such tragedy that Omaree and countless others have succumbed to but, the real dialogue needs to start with the cycle of learned abuse passed down from one generation to the next. If we can start talking about where abuse begins, therein will lie the answer that can break the cycle.

The current system as we know it today and, possibly the system of tomorrow, is not going to be the perfect answer. Instead, let’s be bold and take the next big step together as a community and not let CYFD go it alone just so we can get on with our daily lives and brush this one under the rug until another child falls through the crack.

Let’s have a real conversation to help determine how we all can participate in strengthening our communities and redirect the cycle from abuse to one of health and well-being. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Or in this case, “It takes all of Albuquerque to raise healthy children so they can raise healthy children.”

TRISH COMER

Albuquerque

Preserve Organ Mountains for future

I TEND TO disallow party lines from swaying my opinion. It is unfortunate to see or hear people vote strictly based on a political affiliation. The same is true for pertinent issues that affect our beloved state directly. This is why I support the protection of our awe-inspiring Organ Mountains Desert Peaks, just outside of Las Cruces.

I am inclined to side with those who do not believe in big government intervention. However, what is worse? Our government protecting and preserving this beautiful place for future generations, or big business steam rolling it in the pursuit of money? What will our children say being born into a land where nothing is sacred and everything has a price? How will they develop without having places to go to experience the glory of God’s creations?

The solution is simple – designate this cherished land as a national monument. It worked for The Rio Grande del Norte. Ranchers still have grazing privileges. Hunters can still get permits for this area. Most importantly this land is still available to be used for the right reasons.

JOSE POMALES

Albuquerque

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