Fewer High School Grads Need Remedial Courses, 'New Mexico True' Brand May Expand Under New Governor

Nov 15, 2018

Data Shows Fewer New Mexico Graduates Need Remediation In CollegeAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

State officials say the number of college-bound students taking remedial  courses in college has steadily declined since 2012.

The Albuquerque Journal reports data from the state Public Education Department says half of all New Mexico high school students entering a state higher education institution enrolled in remedial courses in 2012. Public Education Department Secretary Designate Christopher Ruszkowski says 33 percent of students took those courses at the end of last year.

Ruszkowski said Wednesday that the decline is a sign that the state's educational system is improving.

Ruszkowski described the decrease in remediation rates as a "culmination" of PARCC (standardized tests) implementation and rising proficiency rates, increased teaching standards, New Mexico's Common Core standards and other factors.

But the data only counts students who attended in-state institutions.

Managers Report Rock Fall At Underground Nuclear Waste DumpAssociated Press

Managers at the federal government's nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico have reported a rock fall in an area of the underground facility that is off-limits to employees.

The U.S. Energy Department says the fall happened Wednesday evening. Workers heard a loud thud while doing inspections underground so they left the area and all work was stopped.

Officials said there were no injuries.

Rock falls are not uncommon in areas where crews have been unable to perform regular maintenance to shore up the walls and ceilings of the salt caverns that have been excavated for disposal of radioactive waste.

This week's rock fall happened in a disposal room that does not contain any waste.

A team is planning an inspection before operations resume at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

New Mexico Governor Elect Names Transition TeamAssociated Press

New Mexico Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham has selected a panel of experts to help identify potential cabinet leaders and make other recommendations as she prepares to take the top office in state government.

The Democrat on Thursday announced the leaders of seven committees that will focus on separate areas of government. The committee co-chairs include a former governor who most recently led New Mexico State University as chancellor and a former state police chief.

Lujan Grisham said Thursday she will work with the bipartisan group as she focuses on the economy, education, public safety and improving access to healthcare.

The education committee will be headed by former Gov. Garrey Carruthers, a Republican; Kara Bobroff, founder of the Native American Community Academy; and Everett Chavez, a councilman and former governor of Santo Domingo Pueblo.

Andrew Hsi, a pediatrician and professor at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center will co-chair the health and human services committee with Jennifer Ramo, an attorney who is the executive director of New Mexico Appleseed, a nonprofit organization that works with the poor and underserved.

Mattis Compares Border Mission To One Against Pancho VillaAssociated Press

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is comparing today's use of American troops along the southern border to the deployment a century ago that sought to counter Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.

Mattis told reporters Wednesday that using troops along the border dates to the early 20th century. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson sent tens of thousands of National Guard and active duty troops to the border after a Mexican military raid into the U.S.

Mattis noted that two more recent presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, also sent troops south for border missions.

In defending the border mission ordered by President Donald Trump, Mattis said it provides good training for war in some ways.

About 5,800 active duty troops and 2,100 National Guard troops are providing border support.

Albuquerque Open Space Agency To Be Led By WomanAssociated Press

Colleen McRoberts has been selected as Albuquerque's first female open space superintendent.

McRoberts' appointment was announced Tuesday. She'll oversee more than 45 square miles (117 square kilometers) of major public open space in New Mexico's most populous city.

McRoberts served as an open space coordinator for Bernalillo County for more than a decade. She also was a Peace Corps volunteer for three years and a research assistant for the World Wildlife Fund.

McRoberts' appointment comes as communities around the state look to attract more visitors and expand New Mexico's multibillion-dollar outdoor recreation economy.

Organizers already are planning for next year's New Mexico Outdoor Economics Conference in Silver City and a push is underway for New Mexico to join other western state in creating an Office of Outdoor Recreation.

New Mexico's Next Land Boss Puts Out Call For Resumes -Associated Press

New Mexico Land Commissioner-elect Stephanie Garcia Richard has put out a call for resumes as she works toward building a new leadership team for the State Land Office.

The Democrat announced a new website this week where people can submit their resumes or request a meeting.

The State Land Office , one of the most powerful agencies in New Mexico, oversees oil and gas drilling, renewable energy projects and other development on millions of acres of state trust land. Revenues from monthly oil and gas lease sales and other activities help to fund public schools, higher education, hospitals and infrastructure projects.

Garcia Richard said Wednesday she wants to make New Mexico the leader in renewable energy, a goal that has eluded many over the years given the challenges of exporting electricity to larger western markets.

'New Mexico True' Brand May Expand Under New Governor - By Russel Contreras, Associated Press

The "New Mexico True" tourism brand developed by outgoing Republican Gov. Susana Martinez may be expanded under Democratic Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The expansion may come amid pressure for New Mexico to join other western states in creating an Office of Outdoor Recreation.

As a candidate, Lujan Grisham promised to seek efforts to attract more visitors to the Southwestern state and strengthen the "New Mexico True" brand.

The Martinez Administration has credited the "New Mexico True" for "record-breaking" tourism during her first seven years in office. The brand uses images of New Mexico's popular tourist attractions in billboards and commercials in Texas, Arizona, New York and Illinois.

The campaign encourages visitors to tag New Mexico photos on social media with the #NewMexicoTrue hashtag.

The travel show New Mexico True Television has earned three Regional Emmy Awards.

Report Cites Weak Reporting On Missing, Killed Native Women - By Mary Hudetz, Associated Press

A study released by a Native American nonprofit says numerous police departments in cities nationwide are not adequately identifying or reporting cases of missing and murdered indigenous women.

In a report released Wednesday, the Seattle-based Urban Indian Health Institute says researchers found some 500 missing persons and homicide cases involving Native American women in 71 cities. The cases were identified through limited police data that researchers obtained through public records requests and media reports.

Researchers say they expect their figure represents an undercount because some police departments in cities with substantial Native American populations, including Albuquerque, did not respond to their requests for figures, and because Native American women are often identified as belonging to another race.

The report recommends measures for better data collection training and requirements.

Native Women's Safety Measure Clears Committee -Associated Press

A U.S. Senate committee has approved a bill aimed at addressing the high number of missing and murdered Native American women.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved Savanna's Act on Wednesday, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.

The measure would expand tribal access to federal crime databases and establish protocols for handling cases of missing and murdered Native Americans.

It also would require annual reports on the number of missing and murdered Native American women amid concerns that inadequate data collection has stifled efforts to measure the full scope of the problem.

The bill is named for 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was slain in 2017 while eight months pregnant.

Its sponsor Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, lost her bid for re-election last week.

Prison Group Faces Lawsuit Over Immigrant Wages - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The operator of one of the largest private prison systems in the United States is facing a class action lawsuit from formerly detained immigrants who say they were paid as little as $1 per day as part of "volunteer" work programs.

A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Maryland says three detained men from Cameroon who came to the U.S. seeking asylum were paid the low wages at the CoreCivic-run prison at the Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan, New Mexico.

Attorney Joe Sellers says the men were not facing criminal charges and were being held while they sought asylum. Sellers says the men, who are now U.S. residents living in Maryland and Ohio, should have been paid prevailing wages.

The Nashville, Tennessee-based CoreCivic did not immediately return an email from The Associated Press.

US Warns Travelers Of Long Waits At Some Border Crossings - Associated Press

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection office that oversees New Mexico and West Texas is warning travelers that wait times at ports of entry in the region could get longer.

Officials said Wednesday that specially trained officers from New Mexico's Santa Teresa port and the El Paso and Tornillo ports in Texas are being deployed to California and Arizona in preparation for the arrival of an approaching caravan of migrants.

El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha says the deployment will have an effect on the agency's travel and trade operations in West Texas and New Mexico.

Some lanes at the ports will close and processing times are expected to increase.

Thousands of Central American migrants are speeding their journey to the U.S. border. The first group reached Tijuana on Tuesday.