New Mexico’s Legislature faces a plethora of duties during this year’s 30-day regular session. But a measure that should be a no-brainer, deserving of bipartisan support, permits dental therapists to practice in some rural and underserved areas of the state.
Dental therapists are trained to provide routine care, including drilling and filling cavities. Last year, a bill that would have allowed dental therapists to practice in New Mexico passed the Republican-held House, with Democratic support, only to fail in the Senate without so much as a floor vote.
However, a task force of legislators, along with supporters and opponents of dental therapists, came to a compromise late last year. The bill they’ve crafted, HB 191, isn’t perfect – the establishment of a state dental director isn’t necessary, and neither is a mandate that all children receive a dental exam as a prerequisite to school enrollment. Nonetheless, allowing dental therapists to work in our state would be a promising reform.
It is not a government mandate. It doesn’t involve taxpayer subsidies. It’s working in other states, including Minnesota and Alaska. And it’s a solid step away from the ugliness of professional protectionism through government licensing.
The Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) bond measures recently passed overwhelmingly, despite a slew of scandals and payouts leading to concerns from district leaders that voters might use the bond election to punish the district. With a total of $575 million at stake, this was not a trivial concern.
An outpouring of opinion pieces and editorials from community leaders urged voters to put their concerns about the district and its management aside and support the bonds “for the children.” This was seemingly effective, as turnout was nearly double what it normally is for similar elections (still low at 7 percent, but much bigger than normal).
There is no doubt that a rejection would have gotten APS's attention. It was a blunt instrument indeed, but it would have generated a swift reaction from district leaders.
Since the blunt instrument was rejected by voters, what means do voters have of keeping APS accountable? Locally, it pretty much boils down to electing the “right” people to the school board. Since the main job of the school board is to hire a district superintendent who ultimately oversees the schools, this is another weak and indirect method of accountability.
The situation at the state level is not much better. We elect a governor and legislators based on dozens of issues (and personality traits), with their stances on education among them. The governor then hires a secretary of education who is in charge of implementing that governor's education policies. This process is yet another indirect and slow means of holding our education system accountable. What if I like Gov. Martinez's policies on taxes and the economy, but don't like what Department of Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera is doing? Or, I might strongly dislike the governor, but appreciate what Skandera is doing. How do average people communicate their concerns to these people?
This is not limited to the current administration. Accountability, specifically its absence, is endemic to government educational systems.
If businesses think accountability in education is a trivial matter, they need look no further than New Mexico's worst-in-the-nation graduation rate, constant discussion of our “workforce preparedness/quality,” and the tremendous growth in education spending in recent decades.
Mr. Zubrin’s latest book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism; is the newest addition to the New Atlantis Books series.
Merchants of Despair traces the pedigree of the ideology that human beings are a cancer upon the Earth — a species whose aspirations and appetites are endangering the natural order — and exposes its deadly consequences in startling and horrifying detail.
It exposes the worst crimes perpetrated by this antihumanist movement, including eugenics campaigns in the United States and genocidal anti-development and population-control programs around the world. And it provides scientific refutations to antihumanism’s major pseudo-scientific claims, including its modern tirades against nuclear power, pesticides, population growth, biotech foods, resource depletion, industrial development, and, most recently, fear-mongering about global warming. The book’s official homepage is: www.MerchantsOfDespair.com.
In addition to his writing on the environment and public policy, Zubrin is the author of the critically acclaimed nonfiction books The Case for Mars, Entering Space, and Mars on Earth; the science fiction novels The Holy Land and First Landing; and articles in Scientific American, The New Atlantis,American Enterprise, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. He has appeared on major media including CNN, C-SPAN, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel, NBC, ABC, and NPR.
Robert Zubrin is a New Atlantis contributing editor and a fellow at the Center for Security Policy. For many years, he worked as a senior engineer for Lockheed Martin.
Earlier this week, the latest unemployment numbers were released and New Mexico remained stuck with the highest rate in the nation (6.7%). That's obviously not good news.
But, as we've pointed out in the past, unemployment numbers only tell part of the story. If people have dropped out of the workforce, they are not included in the unemployment rate. So, it is important to consider the workforce participation rate as well.
And, as the chart below which tracks US and New Mexico workforce participation rates dating back to 1976, New Mexico (finally) saw a rebound in 2015 after years of decline.
Before you get too excited, it is worth noting that New Mexico still trails every other neighboring state:
Is this just a "dead cat bounce" or is it a sign that more New Mexicans are getting back to work? It's hard to say. What we know is that New Mexico's economy needs some dramatic free market reforms that push our unemployment rate down and increase the numbers of New Mexicans who are "makers" as opposed to "takers."
COMMENTARY: “States may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory.” Justice Louis Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann
When it comes to economic policy issues, the states are supposed to be the dominant actors. This is the view laid out by Justice Brandeis. It flows seamlessly from the United States Constitution’s design which emphasizes “federalism.”
But this isn’t another article about how Washington is overstepping its bounds. Rather, it is about how New Mexico’s Legislature might want to keep closer tabs on policymaking activities of local governments.
Local governments derive their powers from the states within which they are located. In some states they are given broad latitude. In others, like Virginia, their power is strictly limited. Virginia’s minimum wage and other employment-related policies are set by the Legislature.
For simplicity’s sake, this is a good thing, regardless of your views on the minimum wage.
(Albuquerque) The Rio Grande Foundation (along with a host of organizations that support educational choice) is pleased to participate in School Choice Week 2016.
The Foundation is scheduled to participate in two New Mexico celebrations of School Choice Week, one in the Capitol in Santa Fe and the second
Said Muska, “Freedom of choice is at the very heart of the Rio Grande Foundation's mission. Given New Mexico's real struggles with educational attainment, it is high time we give parents and students the freedom to attain the education that makes sense for them.”
School choice is a broad term that includes, but is not limited to: magnet schools, inter-district transfers, charter schools, parochial and private schools, virtual schools, and home-schooling.
The Rio Grande Foundation is philosophically supportive of all forms of school choice, but approaches education policy from the bottom-up perspective. In other words, funding should follow the students giving them the power to make the educational choice that makes the most sense for them. After all, no one has a greater interest in the success of a particular student than that student's parent or guardian.
Watch “Joy in Our Town” with host, Ebony Romero, and guest, Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation, as they talk specifically about the MEDICAID expansion in New Mexico.
Posted by KNAT - TV 23 on Tuesday, January 19, 2016