(Albuquerque, NM) – New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission (PRC) has been at the center of a number of momentous and controversial issues (particularly the Energy Transition Act) in recent years. But bi-partisan momentum exists for reforming the powerful regulatory body and a Constitutional Amendment will be on this November’s ballot which will transform the PRC into a three member body appointed by the Gov.
Is this a good move? What evidence exists from other, similar regulatory agencies? In his new Issue Brief “Should the Governor Appoint PRC Commissioners?” which analyzes the issue and brings evidence from other states into the discussion, the Rio Grande Foundation’s Adjunct Scholar Kenneth Costello discusses the issue and offer his recommendations.
Ultimately, Costello concludes, “While it was not a “slam dunk,” the finding of this brief is that a three-member PRC appointed by the Governor, with input from the nominating committee, would be best for New Mexico.
His arguments in favor of the Constitutional Amendment include: the current Commission size of five commissioners is too many, moving to an appointed model would lead to better-qualified members on the Commission, and appointed commissions have a bigger pool of applicants than the relatively limited number who would run for office.
At the Rio Grande Foundation we expect to disagree regularly with the measures taken by the PRC (the decision to adopt a 100% “renewable” electricity portfolio is only the latest). However, those are often philosophical issues handed down by the Legislature for the PRC to more fully vet and implement.
Ultimately, given the choice between a five member elected PRC and a three member appointed body, the three member commission is the most sensible.
According to the latest Wallethub report, New Mexico is the 34th-most open State in the nation as relates to COVID 19. So, relative to OTHER states, New Mexico continues to reopen somewhat.
The news from Wallethub is not all good as the new report lists New Mexico as a highly-restricted AND high death rate state. Of course, the “sweet spot” is the exact opposite: open AND low death rate. Utah, North Dakota, and Wyoming are three of the states in that enviable position. As the New York Times’ handy tracking site notes, New Mexico continues to see a rapid decline in the number of COVID 19 cases. The 7 day rolling average is a little more than half of what it was as recently as late July.
Trump issues an Executive Order to keep unemployment benefits coming. While Paul & Wally have serious concerns about the legality and precedent of the Order, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget the package would cost “just” $13 billion in additional debt. That is a small fraction of the proposed federal stimulus packages that have cost in the trillions.
The following appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on August 10, 2020:
The Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) recently released a study of the “inaugural cohort” of the state’s pre-K program, concluding that “prekindergarten remains a cost-effective way to improve student outcomes.” But the LFC’s own data shows that expanding pre-K would instead be a costly mistake.
The LFC’s study cites “statistically significant” improvements in children’s outcomes, which in real life are essentially meaningless. Children who attended pre-K scored barely higher on the six kindergarten-entry readiness domains measured — just a couple of percentage points at most. In the crucial areas of literacy and mathematics, only about 60% were kindergarten-ready, whether they attended pre-K or not.
Differences in third-grade PARCC proficiencies, too, were tiny. Almost three-quarters of both pre-K and non-pre-K groups failed to meet third-grade PARCC proficiency in English: 70.3% of pre-K attendees and 71.9% of non-attendees. Roughly two-thirds of both groups failed to meet standards in math: 65.9% of children who went to pre-K compared to 68.1% of children who did not.
If pre-K were affecting children’s achievement, New Mexico’s National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) scores would be rising as pre-K attendance goes up. From 2011 to 2019, however, while the percentage of fourth-graders who had attended pre-K almost tripled, the percentage scoring at or above Basic on the NAEP reading exam remained precisely the same at 53%. In math, that percentage actually declined from 75% to 72%.
The largest outcome differences the LFC reports are for chronic absence — missing over 10% of school — and high school graduation within four years. Twelve percent of children who went to pre-K were chronically absent compared to 16% of those who did not attend. Eighty percent of the 1,540 students in the inaugural pre-K cohort graduated within four years compared to 74% of the roughly 25,000 students who had not gone to pre-K 14 years prior.
Both these differences are likely caused by parents, though, not by children starting school when they’re 4 instead of 5. Parents who voluntarily send their 4-year-old to school for an entire year also probably try harder to make sure their child attends school regularly and graduates on time.
That is, children who attend pre-K have exactly the parents most likely to ensure their success throughout schooling. And the influence of a child’s parents greatly outweighs a single year of school, whether that’s pre-K or fifth grade.
Finally, the LFC study concludes that pre-K is a cost-effective use of taxpayer dollars. But compared to what? “Cost effectiveness” means comparing various programs to determine which yield the biggest results for the same expenditure of limited resources.
Policymakers can’t decide if spending $100 on Program X makes sense if they only know it yields an eventual benefit of $106. How does $106 compare to the benefit of spending $100 on other programs with the same goal? In the case of improving school achievement, the LFC itself has identified approaches far more effective than pre-K.
In a 2017 study, the LFC found that teacher quality had the “most impact on a student’s academic achievement” of all school-related factors, reporting positive effects which were orders of magnitude larger than any associated with pre-K. Children’s PARCC scores in math and reading varied by up to 49 percentage points over three years, depending on whether they had effective or ineffective teachers. Low-performing schools that participated in “Teachers Pursuing Excellence” peer mentoring increased the percentage of students scoring at proficient or above on the PARCC exam from 24% to 35% in reading and 16% to 27% in math, over just two years.
Policymakers should be seeking the most effective use of resources to improve student outcomes and help children who need help the most. Based on the LFC’s recent study, adding a pre-K grade to the public schools seems like more of a “cost-effective way” to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic.
As an alternative to returning a significant portion of per-pupil spending to families, how about the District sends out a survey to parents and teachers to figure out who wants in-person learning (with basic COVID modifications) and which teachers are interested in teaching in-person as opposed to online. The Unions oppose-in-person learning and they have the loudest megaphone, but a fair vote would likely show many teachers who WANT to teach in-person.
Depending on the results it would seem that a significant portion of parents AND teachers could come together to educate children in-person while others could teach and learn in an online or “blended” setting.
The “one-size-fits-all” concept of K-12 education has never worked particularly well. This has been laid bare by COVID 19. It would seem that trying some innovative solutions like this one would be superior to forcing ALL students into a virtual model through the end of the calendar year.
The Rio Grande Foundation has repeatedly expressed concern about Gov. Lujan Grisham’s overreach in addressing the Covid19 situation in New Mexico. Once a public health emergency has been called, the ability for anyone to hold the Gov. accountable is pretty limited.
A small group of legislators have responded to calls from their constituents to put a stop to Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive orders with an unprecedented attempt.
They are using a provision in the New Mexico Constitution to call for an Extraordinary Session of the New Mexico Legislature. You can see their website here.
That provision allows for 3/5ths of the legislators in the House and Senate to call a legislative session without the permission of the Governor or the Speaker of the House.
It may be a long shot, but it’s probably the only shot that legislators have at curbing MLG’s executive power.
To succeed, they’ll need 42 Representatives and 26 Senators.
I hope that this movement succeeds, but for success it will take every Republican legislator signing on, as well as Democrat defectors.
You can find out if your legislator as signed onto this effort and get their contact information by clicking on the logo below:
The best argument her Administration could come up with to justify her argument in support of soccer and against football was “One is a business and the other is not. One is a job and the other is not, professional sports teams don’t exist on a college campus like school teams do, where viral infection would affect a great many people beyond the team.” wrote Press Secretary Nora Meyers Sackett in an email.
That sounds plausible, but it completely ignores any innovative solutions (like those being implemented by the United) to prevent the spread. Finally, what do the players think? Shouldn’t they have a say in the matter? In pro sports like baseball players who have concerns have been able to sit out if they have concerns.
EVCA is part of the Barney Charter School network which was put forth by Hillsdale College. It has a bent to classical education with an emphasis on using original texts and the Socratic method in learning. With everything going on in the K-12 sector these days we wanted to get Jennifer on the show to talk about her school and the many challenges it is facing in the COVID 19 pandemic. If you are concerned about New Mexico’s future as a state, education reform, or are in need of educational options, you won’t want to miss this episode.
Not to be outdone in its effort to harm the local economy, Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley is introducing a “Project Labor Agreement” bill to the County. You can read more here under agenda item 8. PLA’s essentially hand public works projects over to unions in ways that increase costs to taxpayers. The bill will be introduced at the County Commission meeting on Tuesday, August 11, at 5:00pm. Here are a few choice portions of the proposed ordinance: