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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

New Mexico 135 Years Ago: The Problem Then Is The Problem Now, Plus: Cattle Country News, More Spaceport Promises And Our License Plates Don't Peel 

Talk about the more things change the more they stay the same. . .Way back in 1882 when New Mexico was a territory and not yet a state, the condition of public education was a major worry--as it is today. And that brings us to Sister Blandina Segale, the missionary who became known for her work on the American Frontier, especially in our state.

Among her many works was assisting in passing a bill out of the 1882 Territorial Legislature that established the first public schools in New Mexico. 135 years later, supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment that would tap the state's $15 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund for very early childhood education, have dug up the language of that bill, and its relevance to today is a bit eerie:

Whereas, The advancement and property of this Territory are largely dependent upon the education of its people; and, Whereas, There are within its limits numerous orphans and other indigent children without home, influence or moral protection and destitute of the means of education and decent livelihood; and, Whereas, The same children, who, if left to ignorance, destitution and misery, would become elements of serious evil in our midst and entail great public expense in the prevention and suppression of crime, will, if protected and fostered. become a source of wealth, intelligence and moral support to the commonwealth, therefore, Be it Enacted by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of New Mexico: There shall be created a Board of Charities and Industrial Schools in this territory. . .

This year the state House approved the constitutional amendment that would let voters decide if they wanted to use a portion of the Permanent Fund for very early childhood (about $140 million a year for 10 years), but it again stalled in the state Senate. In the 2015 Quality Counts rankings New Mexico ranked 49th in the nation In the quality of its public education.

As for Sister Blandina, she will soon become more widely known. Filming has begun of a television series telling the story of her life. The Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe has begun the process to canonize Segale.

CATTLE COUNTRY

Reader Mark Padilla writes:

Joe, My family has been in the cattle business since the late 1700s. The cattle industry plays a key role in the New Mexico economy and the recent discussions on trade pose a risk to our economy if poorly negotiated. I have attached a short column for your publishing consideration to raise awareness of the upcoming trade talks.

REALLY?

Here we go again:

Richard Branson has announced plans to launch people into space in 2018, with the first test flights beginning this year. The Virgin Galactic boss said he would be 'very disappointed' not to go into space himself in 2018 and hopes his space tourism programme will be up and running in the same year.

The NM Spaceport has been waiting for Virgin to launch for well over a decade, with past deadlines falling by the wayside. Maybe this time is different? Well, don't buy your $225,000 ticket quite yet.

CONSOLIDATION PLEASE

Geez, what has to happen before Santa Fe gets serious and starts cutting down or consolidating these broken and expensive campuses:

State Auditor Tim Keller released a caustic audit of Northern New Mexico College, whose former president took off 40 days to attend conferences and then used 45 more days for vacations, even though only nine days were approved. These findings followed Keller’s recent conclusion that Northern is lax in accounting practices for handling cash and that $200,000 probably was stolen from the college by a former employee.

NO PEEL HERE

A reader from Texas complained here that our state's relatively new turquoise colored license plates are peeling. We haven't seen any signs of that and neither has reader Peter Ives:

Haven't seen any quality problems with my beautiful turquoise NM plate yet and I've put 79k miles on my car in lots of sun. And by the way, they got a design award back in 2010 from a plate collectors organization. The balloon license plates are the ones in deteriorating condition. They are really frying under the sun--many are quite faded and barely legible. The state should offer free replacements. The "patriot" plate is the ugliest with swirling US and NM flags and black alphanumerics over. Someone's cousin at MVD probably did that one--totally amateur.

THE BOTTOM LINES

When President Trump made one of his New Mexico stops as a candidate, he referred to ABQ's Kirtland Air Force Base as "Kirkland." Maybe it's catching on, or we missed the renaming, because we saw this in the newspaper the other day:

Wilson also told Heinrich she strongly supports moving directed energy and laser systems, some of which are being developed at Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico, onto “the war fighter.”

Well, Costco would like that.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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