On Father’s Day and every day, families belong together

As a recent college graduate returning to my home state after four years, I feel grateful to be able to celebrate Father’s Day with my family this summer. We devote time every year to celebrate our parents and all that they do for us because, as Americans, we value family. But this Father’s Day, I cannot help but think about the current immigration policies that are tearing young children away from their moms and dads and ignoring the importance of family. Our family members ground us. They foster our development, they teach us resiliency, they offer immense support, and they shape us as individuals.

Climate change’s impact on our food

There was a time when wading waist-deep into the Rio Grande in the heat of the summer’s blistering solar rays was as common as finding a wild willow tree growing by the river. But as we observe this becoming a distant memory, a new reality is emerging. A farmer friend, on his way to the river with some friends, sent me a few pictures. In it were children enjoying the river, just ankle deep, grateful even for the small reprieve. I thought of Laura Paskus’ article and the fish trying desperately to escape impending death.

DOH should acknowledge cannabis’ legitimate role in addressing opioid abuse

The New Mexico Department of Health is placing political ideology above public health by refusing to recognize the reality that cannabis offers a viable alternative to opioids (“DOH: Reports on cannabis for opioid abuse are ‘poor in quality,’ May 20). This ‘Flat Earth’ position ignores a myriad of data generated from other states, as well as from New Mexico’s own experience with medical cannabis. Population-based studies find that medical cannabis access is associated with reduced levels of opioid use, hospitalizations, and mortality. Specifically, data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

A pair of studies published earlier this year further finds that medical access is linked to fewer opioid prescriptions. For instance, a longitudinal analysis of opioid prescribing trends among those eligible for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage determined “that prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year … when a state instituted any medical cannabis law.” In the second study, “State implementation of medical marijuana laws was associated with a 5.88 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing” patterns among all Medicaid fee-for-service and managed care enrollees – a high-risk population for chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and opioid overdose.

This acequia life

From the porch near the house, I see Papa in the distance, shovel on his shoulder, his outline as familiar as his presence. Egrets graze along the water that moves in and across the field, alfalfa plants brightening the morning with a welcoming green. The swallows — las golondrinas — fly down and across the water, grasping at food too small for me to see. And Papa walks his field, slower now with age, his boots soaking up water, wearing them as the only lovely he knows. This originally appeared at High Country News and is reprinted with permission.

Invest in kids now: It’s morally and fiscally responsible.

New Mexico has a jobs problem. We have high crime. We’re ranked 49th in the country for child well-being, showing how much our kids suffer. Our home was just ranked the second most stressed state in the nation. These are tough issues, but there are solutions.

Do what works to provide student success

Teachers and other educators across the nation say “enough” to chronic underfunding of public education. Here in New Mexico, educators await a positive outcome to the lawsuit against the State for failing to provide public schools the supports necessary for statewide student success. The National Education Association-New Mexico applauds every parent, school district Board of Education and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund who bring the lawsuit. Our state constitution mandates State government to provide a “uniform system of free public schools sufficient for the education of all the children of school age.”

New Mexican children possess the same potential, intelligence, and motivation as their peers across the country.  New Mexico has loving and supportive families, committed teachers and supportive communities, but the State is starving its public schools.

Imagine not being counted

If you’ve ever done much research on your family history, you’ve likely run across old census records. These yellowed documents—many hand-written with quill and ink by enumerators who went door-to-door to gather the information—were used to determine how many representatives each state had in Congress. Today’s Census is still incredibly important, but now it is much more high-tech. It involves cutting-edge technology, years of planning, extensive research, and thousands of Census workers across the country. Far from being a thing of the past, the decennial Census count that takes place every ten years determines crucial day-to-day realities for all residents in the U.S. It determines voting and school districts, political representation, and how billions in federal dollars are spent across the country—including $6.2 billion every year in New Mexico alone.

Institutional racism and early childhood education funding

In New Mexico, 90 percent of Native American 4th graders are below reading proficiency levels. Only 61 percent of African American high schoolers graduate in four years. Hispanic/Latino households have a median annual income $15,000 less than White households. These data are consistent with countless others that make clear that there is an epidemic of racial inequity in New Mexico. What is less clear to many is that addressing these inequities would benefit the entire population of the state not just communities of color.

Making progress for women’s equality at the Roundhouse

This past year across the country, we heard about countless stories of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. From the entertainment industry to big corporations – and yes, even in our own Roundhouse – this was a moment of reckoning for many. But for most women, this was nothing new. For too long, workplaces have protected those who have committed these acts through processes that don’t protect victims and further embolden the “that’s how it’s always been” culture. This year at the legislature, our voices ranged from #MeToo to #TimesUp, and together, we’ve changed the narrative.

Congress should not trade one injustice for another

President Trump created a crisis over DACA by rescinding the directive that protected from deportation thousands of undocumented immigrants brought here as children. Now he is holding them hostage, demanding that Congress give him $25 billion for border security, including his “beautiful” wall, in exchange for not rounding up Dreamers and sending them into exile. That’s a deal that Congress should not only reject, but condemn in the strongest possible terms for the sinister choice that it is. You don’t fix one injustice by creating another. Many people seem to think that the wall, although expensive and offensive, is harmless. “If this is what it takes to protect Dreamers,” they say, “just give Trump his wall.”

The truth is the wall is not benign.