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The KUNM news team's coverage of the 2020 legislative session and its impacts

No More Normal: This Will Be On The Exam

Photo by Nani Chacon
Muralist Nani Chacon and students at Washington Middle School in collaboration with Working Classroom created this 6,000-square-foot mural "Resilience." It was completed in 2016. The image is used here with permission of the artist.

In the old days—like last year—mid-August was a time when students prepared to get back to class. A time to reconnect with friends and compare summer vacation stories and to show off the fashion of your new school outfits, if you were so lucky. In 2020, instead of students worrying about who has a crush on who, they’re thinking about who has COVID and who doesn't. Parents are concerned with how their kids will get a quality education. Teachers are not only focused on the adjustment to teaching remotely but on the health risks of being called back to campus. In Episode 6, we hear from a panel of teachers, students in three different levels of school, a union rep for college instructors, Khalil’s mom Olufemi Ekulona, as well as renowned anti-racism educator Jane Elliott. Break out your notebooks. There’s a lot to learn, and what is covered today will be on the exam.

Jane Elliott has led trainings all over the world, exposing racism for what it is. Fifty-two years ago, she created the Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes exercise to show the impact of prejudice and bigotry in our society. She talks on the show about teachers leaving their biases at the door of the classroom. 

Credit Photo by Nani Chacon
Detail from "Resilience," a mural by Nani Chacon and students at Washington Middle School in Albuquerque.

Israel Reyes is a senior at Atrisco Heritage Academy High School and a member of Voices in Action, a youth group that aims to make student voices heard by school administrators. He speaks about defunding police in schools and his position that 16- and 17-year-old people should be able to vote in school board elections.

Even before the pandemic, there was already a scarcity of educational resources on tribal lands. The lack of access to the internet and technology are only a couple. People are working to make the situation better. Jasmine Yepa is the coordinator for the Tribal Education Alliance and senior analyst for the Native American Budget and Policy Institute. She sheds light on what kids are facing—even her own.

Olufemi Ekulona, host Khalil’s mom, was a staunch advocate for her kids in school. She explains why she took such an active role

Antonio Granillo is the community advocacy manager at Partnership for Community Action. He describes some of the barriers parents in New Mexico face as they try to get involved—including schools not providing required translators when parents don’t speak English. He also talks about Abriendo Puertas, a network aiming to connect parents so they can take the lead in advocating for their kids.

College football is a big moneymaker for colleges and universities. But is it safe to play? ESPN’s John Brickley breaks it down. 

Credit Photo by Nani Chacon
Detail from "Resilience," a mural by Nani Chacon and students at Washington Middle School in Albuquerque.

KUNM’s Ty Bannerman interviews his 9-year-old daughter Bronwyn Bannerman to get her take on elementary school during a pandemic.

A group of educators from Albuquerque High School converse about the school district’s decision to keep distance learning for the whole fall semester, what their health concerns are, and unforeseen technical challenges for students. Plus, how they are evolving their teaching methods every day. We hear from: Lisa Gillett, Jewelry and Art; Elena Maietta, Choir and Piano; Liz Alvarado, Math; Forrest Agee, English and Creative Writing; Elsie Stocks, Band Director and AP Music Theory; Veronica Medina, Culinary Arts and Chicano Studies.

Credit Photo by Nani Chacon
Detail from "Resilience," a mural by Nani Chacon and students at Washington Middle School in Albuquerque.

Lee Montgomery is an art professor at the University of New Mexico and a member of United Academics of UNM, a new union for instructors at the school. The union worked with the university’s administration to come up with a plan for the Fall semester. Montgomery walks us through the process.

Daily Lobo reporters Cameron Ward and Andrew Gunn talk about the COVID case count at UNM on the first day of school and rising tuition rates even though classes are online and many of the university’s extracurriculars—funded by steep student fees—are on pause.  

Ryan Lowery is an award-winning independent journalist who covers a lot government transparency issues. He tells the opaque story of the Las Vegas City School District.

Next week: It’s back to the basics. We look at food access, shelter and surviving the pandemic.  Tune in Sunday, Aug. 30, at 11 a.m.

Special thanks to:

  • Muralist Nani Chacon for giving us permission to use an image of "Resilience."
  • Jazztone the Producer, Cheo, Dahm Life, Fresh Air, A. Billi Free, Flo Fader and Oh Lawd Records for providing music to our show. Khaki, Pope Yes Yes Y’all and Bigawatt composed some of the show’s themes.
  • Bryce Dix and Hannah Colton for the editing help. 
  • Ty and Bronwynn Bannerman for their contribution.
  • And always, all of our guests for sharing their stories, lives and perspectives.

Reading list assigned by Jane Elliott:

No More Normal is brought to you by Your New Mexico Government, a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, and the Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage comes from the New Mexico Local News Fund, the Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners like you, with support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.

Credit Photo by Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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