Alibi V.28 No.45 • Nov 7-13, 2019

Newscity

State Pressured on Education Plan

The News Monkey

A lawsuit alleging that the state of New Mexico isn't doing enough to provide students with a sufficient education is requesting that a plan be put in place by March.

A judge ruled in 2018 that the state failed to meet New Mexico constitutional requirements to provide students with a sufficient education. According to KOAT, lawyers involved in that case say the state is still failing to help at-risk students—despite recent improvements, including teacher pay raises and increases to school funding.

“We have to approach this differently and provide our students with a very different type of education that's grounded in their culture and in their language … That's not happening now,” said Gail Evans, lead council for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit is asking that a judge force the Public Education Department and legislators to make a specific plan to improve education for at-risk students by March 15, 2020.

According to the latest Nation's Report Card, New Mexico's fourth-grade and eighth-grade students' math and reading proficiency ratings are far below the national average.

GOP Sues to Stop Absentee Voting

The Republican Party of New Mexico is threatening to sue the New Mexico Secretary of State and the Doña Ana County Clerk to halt the counting of absentee ballots in Las Cruces.

The Associated Press reports that state Republican officials are accusing the secretary and county clerk over allegations that they are not following a 2019 law that requires absentee voters to provide their names, addresses and years of birth. The GOP claims that improper ballots submitted in the Las Cruces mayoral race have been counted by officials and is demanding that the counting process be halted. Republican leaders say Doña Ana County officials were required to contact the voters and clarify the missing information but failed to do so.

Absentee ballots are usually mailed in before an election by voters who aren't able to make it to the polls.

State Agency Spent $12K at Arcade

Earlier this year, a state agency spent nearly $12,000 of taxpayers' money on a mandatory meeting that included laser tag, bowling and arcade games.

According to KOB, more than 100 state employees from the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration met for their annual day of training and team-building on Sept. 26. This year, the agency's “All Hands Event” took place at Main Event—an arcade and entertainment venue—and included food, a keynote speaker and access to arcade games, bowling, billiards and laser tag. The state reportedly paid nearly $12,000 for the meeting. Agency services were shut down for the day.

Reporters asked WCA Deputy Director Verily Jones—who was acting director when plans were made for the meeting—why she chose this particular venue, and she said it “gave us the best bang for our buck.” She also said there isn't a room at the agency's building that's big enough to accommodate the entire staff, so they have to hold their meetings off-site. KOB investigators pointed out that renting a ballroom at state-owned UNM buildings starts at around $460.