Analysis on New Mexico finishing 50th in child welfare survey: Where are the parents?
Print This Post
New Mexicans have sadly become accustomed to finishing 48th and 49th in various national surveys and on Monday (June 24), the Land of Enchantment finished a disenchanting dead last — 50th in the nation — in a combined measurement of child welfare.
Now the question is, what to do about it … and whether political leaders will work together to fix things.
The – a nonprofit organization based in Baltimore — looked at a number of statistics including poverty, reading scores, the economic and marital status of parents and teen alcohol/drug abuse and ranked New Mexico at the bottom of U.S. states in its annual report.
Last year, the foundation’s ”Kids Count” study ranked New Mexico 49th. This year, the state dropped below last year’s worst-ranked state, Mississippi.
The Casey Foundation is but regardless of one’s political stripe, their numbers aren’t surprising. Anyone who’s surveyed the problems facing New Mexico are familiar with the stats by now.
But Monday’s ignominious distinction had people across the political spectrum talking about what to do next.
On Monday evening, the blamed Gov. .
“Once again, the Governor’s response is more photo-ops, with balloons, reading books to children, which is hard to listen to when you’re hungry and worried because your parents have no job or health care,” a by party chairman declared. “Then she departs to anywhere outside of New Mexico, to raise $100,000+ for her re-election from wealthy, selfish Republicans looking for ‘what’s in it for me’ instead of ‘what can we do to help our children.’”
Bregman has been a harsh critic of Martinez and is, at the very least tangentially, connected to a series of allegedly stolen from an online account belonging to the governor.
tried to talk to Gov. Martinez about the rankings Monday morning after she spoke at the honoring Santa Fe native Sgt. First Class but her press secretary said she was unavailable for comment.
Paul Gessing of the free-market think tank, the , fired right back at Democrats.
“It is interesting when so-called ‘progressives’ complain about the status quo in New Mexico as if they had no part in making our state 50th,” Gessing wrote . “After all, outside of the office of governor (which has flipped back and forth in recent years), New Mexico has been controlled from top to bottom by politicians of the liberal/progressive mindset … As I’ve , the Legislature has been controlled by one party for nearly all of New Mexico’s existence with the exception of just a few years. The Courts and legal system have been under the control of the same people. And yet we are 50th in so many things that these very same liberal/progressives claim to want to change!!!”
True, the depressing array of statistics have a long history in the state but aside from the Democrats vs. Republicans meme, getting things turned will be a daunting task.
Hearing the obligatory calls for “frank and honest discussions” won’t change things.
“Unless we get sufficient funding, then I think we just continue to stay at 50 for a long time and that’s terrible for our future,” Bernice Garcia Baca of the Aspen Community Magnet School in Santa Fe, Monday.
But an inconvenient fact is – the largest teacher’s union the country — had New Mexico ranked 25th in the nation — right in the middle — for per-pupil expenditures for public K-12 schools in its most recent year studied, 2011-2012. (
It would seem that better educational results would lead to improvement in poverty numbers but a “frank and honest” discussion would also include why teen pregnancy rates are so high and why kids are abusing alcohol and drugs in the first place.
And there’s an even more nettlesome question: Where are the parents?
Their responsibilities (or the lack of those taking that responsibility) have to be a major part of the equation too.
But it’s dangerous to a politician’s future to antagonize potential voters by bringing up such a subject so it may not come up from members of the Legislature or the executive.
Regardless, though, the parental question needs to be addressed — constituencies and political allies be damned.
Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Annie E Casey Foundation, Democratic Party of New Mexico, Kids Count, KRQE-TV, Leroy Petry, New Mexico Watchdog, Paul Gessing, Rio Grande Foundation, Sam Bregman, Susana Martinez