Should New Mexico End Summer Break For Children?

desert-rainbow

Apparently NM Senator Joseph Cervantes (D) was never a child. He must have miraculously appeared in adult form one day and skipped a human experience known as “childhood.” You may think I have finally lost my mind, but I beg you to read SB 256 and come to a different conclusion.

Senator Cervantes sponsored SB 256, which is designed to increase school days for New Mexico’s children. He isn’t just calling for another week of school…he wants the children to go to school for 27 more days! That is 5.5 more weeks of school.

SB 256 will increase the required number of hours per school year for kindergarten through fifth grades from 990 hours per year to 1127 hours per year. (It also removes half day kindergarten)

The bill also includes a minimum requirement of 205 days of instruction per year. Let’s put that in perspective. In school year 2016-17, the Albuquerque Public School calendar included 178 days of instruction. The school year began August 11, 2016 and ends May 25, 2017. By my calculation, the extra 27 days of school would make the last day of school in early July.

Wait…that’s not all. There is more fun to be had with this kid-friendly bill. Jolly Ol’ Senator Cervantes included the following restrictions:

“ Days or hours when no instruction is given due to lunchtime, recess, weather-related school delays or cancelations, in-service training, teacher planning and preparation or other events that are not educational programs…shall not count toward the calculation of minimum instructional hours or days.”

I know that schools have built-in school days for weather related cancelations. It just seems a little overboard to include this type of harsh language in this bill.

Lastly, the bill requires that, “School breaks shall be scheduled as evenly as practicable.” Really? How does propose that the schools do that with so few “off” days?

Obviously this is a “year-round” school proposal. I cannot stand the idea of any child, especially children in kindergarten through fifth grade, being required to be in school so much. I have a child and I want her to cherish fall, winter, spring and summer breaks as much as I did.

Hopefully I am wrong and Senator Cervantes was a child at some point. Maybe he will remember that your youth is only temporary and you never get it back. Let’s not take these moments away from our children just because we want them to be “competitive.” For the sake of the inner child in all of us, please do not let SB 256 pass.

Organizing Does Work! Progressives Win APS School Board Elections

Albuquerque has a lot to be proud of this morning. All of the progressive candidates won seats in their respective APS School Boards Districts! What makes it even better is the fact that they defeated a highly organized Tea Party attempt to take over APS.

According to the Albuquerque Journal the winners of each district were:

District 3: Lorenzo Garcia

District 5: Candy Patterson

District 6: Elizabeth Armijo

District 7: David Peercy

In addition, the voter turnout has been estimated to be 6%. That may not sound like much, but it is almost twice the average turnout!

So…organizing does work. Keep up the hard work and continue the fight. We will win the Albuquerque Mayoral election this year!

Veterans Don’t Matter? According to NM SB 103 & HB 108 they don’t

voteno2

The New Mexico Legislature ignores Veterans again. Politicians love to use us during their campaign, but abandon us when we really need them. SB 103 & HB 108 are both silent on Veterans issues concerning the transfers of college credit gained from military experience. As a matter of fact, the proposed changes in the definitions of the Act may make it more difficult for Veterans to transfer credits.
SB 103 & HB 108 are identical bills that seek to amend the Post-Secondary Education Articulation Act. This Act is designed to create a unified method of transferring credits between New Mexico Institutions of Higher Education. Arguments exist for and against certain aspects of the bills, but both sides seem to miss the impact the measure will have on Veterans.
Currently, there is no unified system of determining how many credits a Veteran will be awarded for military training. According to the Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC) Bill Analysis for 2016 SB 153, military credit is transferred “solely at the discretion of the college or university.”
That may not seem like a big deal to most people, but for Veterans it is a headache. My wife & I can attest to that first hand. We are not new to college life as military Veterans.*

We have experienced the difficulties of transferring military credits between universities. Despite the fact that my wife had completed multiple years in the military and had an associate degree, UNM did not recognize all of her military education that was included in her Associate Degree. They only awarded her 3 credits for physical education. She had to take more credits to finish her BA than she should have needed. It was a waste of time and money, which could have been easily avoided.
Last year Senator Craig W. Brandt sponsored SB 153, which required the New Mexico Higher Education Department to “work in coordination with institutions of higher education to study, create and implement a policy and single articulation agreement regarding the award of academic college credit based on military training and experience.” Unfortunately, it was only a temporary provision that required HED to present a report to the Military and Veterans Affair Committee (MVAC) and the LESC on November 1, 2016.
The official minutes of the November 1, 2016 MVAC meeting are not available, but the November 16, 2016 LESC minutes are. At that meeting the HED Financial Aid Director, Dr. Harrison Rommel indicated that the department wants “military credits to apply towards a degree”, but as my wife and I both experienced, “the department has not seen that happen in the past.”
The changes to the Post-Secondary Education Articulation Act may make implementing a unified military credit policy more difficult. The bills both propose changing the definition of “articulation” from “the transfer of course credit from one institution to another” to “the transfer of courses that fulfill a graduation requirement for a student’s chosen degree program.”
HED admitted that they have not seen institutions apply military credits towards a degree. This means that even if one institution grants military credits there is no guarantee that another institution will accept them unless they “fulfill a graduation requirement.”
In addition to this change, the HED was quoted in the LESC Bill Analysis stating that “the development of a comprehensive, statewide transfer policy for military credit reflected on JST could be developed in parallel with the department’s existing work on articulation, transfer, and common course numbering.” The key word here is “could.” Why didn’t they use a word such as “will?” They used “could” because that gives them an out and leaves them uncommitted to the plan.
SB 153 did not have any substantive requirements for HED, nor did it have any implementation timeline. If our legislature truly cared about Veterans, they would require SB 103 and HB 108 to include language that requires HED to develop a “comprehensive, statewide transfer policy for military credit reflected on JST that will be developed in parallel with the department’s existing work on articulation, transfer, and common course numbering.”
They should also change the definition of “articulation” back to its original meaning or include another provision that excludes military transfer credits from these requirements.
The legislature is rushing HB 108 and SB 103 through without taking into consideration so many variables, including Veterans issues. I ask that you call your representatives and ask for them to vote “no” on HB 108 and SB 103.

* I served 15 years in the military and my wife served 12 years. We both gave up our careers to use of G.I. Bills and get an education. I was able to complete an Associate Degree in General Studies from Central Texas Community College, a BA in Business and Management from St. Martin’s University, start a MBA at UNM and get my Juris Doctor from UNM School of Law. My wife completed her Associate Degree in General Studies from University of Maryland University College, was the first student in UNM history to earn a BA in Chicano Studies, is in the process of finishing her MA in American Studies at UNM, and has started her PhD in Visual & Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester.

Is High School Pointless?

Hi Friends,

I am doing some research on high school and education from a teenagers perspective for a book that I am writing called Lit! Really Bad Advice for Teenagers. I have created a survey with 10 simple questions. I would really appreciate it if you could share the survey link with any teenager that you know. Just cut and paste the link to share it with them (or you can have them visit this site and take the survey below!) Thank you so much. Here is the link to share:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TBV3KYX

Why Dr. Jill Stein Must Be President #Itsinourhands

jill-stein-1

Should Dr. Jill Stein be elected as the first female President instead of Hillary Clinton? Is Dr. Jill Stein the best option for Bernie Sanders supporters? The Daily Loco believes that the answer to both of these questions is: Yes! (The Daily Loco also thinks that Socialist Gloria La Riva is a great option. More on her next week)

Today is officially #DemExit and people are leaving the Democratic Party en masse. They are fed up with the lies and corruption that permeate every crack and crevice of the Party. Hillary failed to win them over and they want another alternative. The mainstream media and Hillary supporters love to say, “If you don’t vote for Hillary, Trump will win. Do you want that?” During the Democratic Conference, a reporter told a young Bernie supporter that she had to choose between Hillary and Trump…she only had two choices. The young woman looked at the reporter and said, “I have more than two choices…I will vote for Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party!”

What does Dr. Jill Stein stand for and does she really have a chance? Here is a quick breakdown of her Power to the People platform from her website:

  • The Green New Deal: Create jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 and by investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, and conservation
  • Create living-wage jobs for everyone ($15 minimum wage)
  • Strengthen and form unions.
  • Guarantee economic human rights: access to food, water, housing and utilities.
  • Single-payer health insurance
  • Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude.
  • Tuition-free public education (K-University)
  • School privatization
  • Democratize the Federal Reserve
  • End fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, and uranium mines.
  • Demilitarize the police. “Ensure communities control their police rather than police controlling our communities.”
  • Legalize marijuana
  • Abolish corporate personhood

These are just a few of her ideas, check out more at the Jill2016 website.

 

I absolutely love her platform. It is a very “feel good” utopian dream. It is an amazing ideal of what America should and could be.

A lot of people will point to her lack of political experience as a reason why she will not get their vote. If that is you, you should take a moment of your time to learn about her. She has dedicated her life to the People…she is a fighter. (Read her bio here)

Others will say that you are hurting Hillary Clinton and wasting your vote if you vote for a third-party. Dr. Jill Stein and the Green Party do not have a chance! The will say…look at what Ralph Nader did to Al Gore.

This is America and everybody has the right to vote for the person who they support! The reason why third parties struggle is because the People are afraid to vote for them. The mainstream party followers and the media use scare tactics to convince people to use their vote for the mainstream candidates.

This is a political revolution and we must continue what Bernie started. We need to show the mainstream party and the media that we are not sheep. If the People really supported the candidate of their choice, third-party candidates would be the norm. It is time to say that we have had enough! If you supported Bernie, you should really consider supporting Dr. Jill Stein (or Gloria la Riva)

Strategically speaking, at least 13.2 million People voted for Bernie during the primaries. That does not include all of the independent voters who were unable to vote in the primaries. If the Bernie supporters move over to Dr. Jill Stein and the independent voters follow suit, Dr. Stein can beat Hillary and Trump. We need to remember that there is another third-party candidate for the Libertarian Party who is going to steal votes from Trump. (read more here)

Dr. Stein has the ability to win this and become the first woman elected to be the President of the United States! The only thing that stands in the way is us. If we ignore the scare tactics and unite behind her, she will be unstoppable. So, visit her site, sign up, share the message and let the Revolution continue! #JillnotHill #DemExit #GoGreen #VoteGreen @DrJillStein

 

Is Gary Johnson Worse Than Donald Trump?

Gary_Kiss

For those of you jumping on the Gary Johnson bandwagon, you may want to think twice. In some regards he may be just as bad or worse than Donald Trump.

I will admit, at first glance, Gary Johnson seems very appealing to voters who do not like Clinton or Trump. If you take a few moments to read through the “issues” section on his campaign site, you may find yourself shaking your head in agreement with most of his ideas. For instance, he proposes:

  • Cuts to military spending and to use more strategic means to “neuter” extremist organizations.
  • Legalization of marijuana
  • Lowering/ eliminating taxes and simplifying the tax code through a “single consumption tax” (VAT tax)
  • Create jobs by eliminating business income taxes. This will make America a “tax haven”
  • People should be free to do as they choose, marry who they want to marry and personal freedom should be protected at all costs (as long as no harm is done to others)
  • Reform the Justice system. Too many things have been criminalized in an attempt by politicians to look “tough”
  • Drug rehabilitation and harm reduction are more acceptable and successful than incarceration and arrests.
  • Immigration: Simplified system of work visas. (which sounds like a good plan until you read his other ideas in combination with this idea)
  • Eliminate Common Core and standardization in the school system (Eliminate the Federal Department of Education)

These are just a few of his talking points. Many of these ideas will appeal to voters who supported Sanders and those who dislike Clinton and Trump. Unfortunately, Gary Johnson’s website conveniently omits some of his (and the Libertarian Party’s) more controversial ideas. For instance:

  • Elimination of Federal minimum wage. Gary says that minimum wage is “much ado about nothing.” He wants to “let the marketplace function.”
  • He wants to privatize public education. The Libertarian Party believes that “parents should have control of and responsibility for ALL funds expended for their children’s future.”
  • The end to all laws prohibiting discrimination. Their platform states, “Members of private organizations retain their rights to set whatever standards of association they deem appropriate, and individuals are free to respond with ostracism, boycotts and other free-market solutions.”
  • He calls for a privatized Healthcare system and the phase out of Social Security. The Libertarian Party believes that “retirement is the responsibility of the individual.”
  • Remove all barriers to “Free” trade.
  • Require all States to accept “Right to Work” to dismantle unions.
  • End government regulations on employer/ employee relationships.

Let’s soak these items in for a moment. Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party want to ease immigration to allow more workers, end minimum wage, allow employer discrimination and remove all regulation on hiring practices, destroy Unions, privatize Healthcare, which will decrease access, and dismantle the financial safety net of the elderly.

His plan would basically legalize slavery and throw us back into the Dark Ages. These ideas are ridiculous. Does he or the Libertarian Party actually believe these ideas are a good idea? (This may be a silly question considering a candidate danced in a thong onstage at their Convention and another walks around with a boot on his head.)

Gary Johnson has moved away from some of the Libertarian Party’s more extreme ideas, but he is still representing their platform. Don’t forget, his VP choice is Bill Weld. Governor Weld actually joined the Libertarian Party 2 weeks before he was selected as Gary Johnson’s VP choice. Mr. Weld stated that 98% of the Libertarian Party’s platform is “music to [his] ears.” Really…98% of it? Has he actually read the platform? Governor Weld even mentioned that he is not a fan of Gary Johnson’s “single consumption tax.” He believes that it is regressive.

I realize that the two main party candidates are less than optimal choices. They are hard to support and a lot of people refuse to vote for them. That doesn’t mean we should jump on Gary Johnson’s bandwagon. Reinstating slavery, allowing sweatshops and child labor, abandoning the elderly and supporting segregation/ discrimination are horrible ideas. That platform sounds just as bad or worse than Donald Trumps! Would you vote for Gary Johnson?

NEXT WEEK: Would you vote for Dr. Jill Stein?

Loco Friends: Humans of New Mexico, Dr. Annette Rodriguez and Learners Chess Academy

New Mexico is full of amazing people and community organizations. Today the Daily Loco is going to take a few moments to recognize some of our friends: Humans of New Mexico, Dr. Annette Rodriguez and Learners Chess Academy.

 

Humans of New Mexico ( www.HumansofNewMexico.com )

 

For those of you who have not heard of Humans of New Mexico, I suggest that you take a moment to visit their site, follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook (they have already eclipsed 1000 likes!). They are a “Community project collecting oral histories from everyday New Mexicans.” I find it fascinating to read (or listen to) the stories of everyday people from our community. Everyone has a story to tell and Humans of New Mexico seeks “capture the complex issues that affect our communities and offer a platform to voice everyday practices of resistance to societal pressures.” This is an amazing project that deserves our support and recognition.

 

Dr. Annette Rodriguez

 

The Daily Loco would like to congratulate Dr. Rodriguez for winning the 2016 New Mexico Foundation for Open Government William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award (Education). The award is given “to individuals and organizations that advance transparency in the areas of law, journalism, education, government and business.”

Dr. Rodriguez fought the administration of Northern New Mexico College by using the Open Meetings Act and the Inspection of Public Records Act to expose widespread corruption and poor management at the College. The information was published on The Northern New Mexico College Study Group blog and the Daily Loco.

Dr. Rodriguez is a true champion of the People and proved that she truly cares about the students of Northern New Mexico. Thank you for all that you do Dr. Rodriguez!

The Awards Lunch will be held at the Embassy Suites on October 5, 2016. Tickets are still available. Visit their website for more information or to purchase.

 

Learners Chess Academy

 

Where to begin? Learners Chess Academy is a community blessing. The organization was founded in 2010 by Victor Lopez and has grown into a non-profit organization that provides after-school programs and chess camps for youth in Albuquerque. Visit their website to learn more (www.learnerchess.org)

Learners Chess Academy has had an amazing year so far! Coach Victor was honored as a  White House as a Champion of Change. He (and Learners Chess Academy) is definitely deserving of such high praise.

In addition, the organization just launched Learners Without Borders. The project just recently sent a group of high school students (with coaches) to teach chess in El Salvador. What a great opportunity for those teenagers!

Most importantly, Learners Chess Academy provides Need-based Scholarships. Here is the statement from their site: “At Learners Chess Academy, we charge a fee, when we can, for many of our classes, camps and programs. But we also strive to bring the joy of learning chess to those who cannot afford it by offering need-based scholarships for our camps and after school programs.”

Please take a moment and visit their site to make a donation. Any amount can help a child learn chess and provide an enriching after school program and camp opportunity. DONATE (you will be redirected to their donation page)

 

Thank you taking the time to read about the amazing accomplishments of some of my friends. Albuquerque and New Mexico are full of amazing people and organizations that seek to build a better world. I am proud of you all and proud to be a New Mexican!