Analysis on New Mexico finishing 50th in child welfare survey: Where are the parents?

By Rob Nikolewski on June 24, 2013
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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.

BRINGING UP THE REAR: A study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation puts New Mexico in last place for overall child welfare in the country.

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

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7 Comments For This Post So Far

    8:12 am on June 25th, 2013

    Sam Bregman, the man with no morals no ethics how dare he. The parents are the fault here not the Gov. As a democrat Bregman does not understand that the government is not in the job to parent children.

  2. 9:53 am on June 25th, 2013

    I have been to “books and balloons” events where Governor Martinez spoke to children, teachers and administrators. While such events aren’t the total answer, it is safe to say children love her, and administrators and teachers I have listened to respect her.

    Perhaps Bregman should attend something in addition to his puffed up media events.

  3. Jason M
    11:56 am on June 25th, 2013

    What to do? What they usually do, of course: THROW MORE MONEY AT IT.

    As long as Democrats continue to control New Mexico, we will sit at the bottom of the list.

    And Bregman? That ambulance chaser will continue to shoot his mouth off at every opportunity, regardless of the truth. He lies by reflex. He fits right in with the Democrats here.

  4. 12:09 pm on June 25th, 2013

    Good parents are very helpful, but as the article notes we are spending plenty of money to educate our kids. If the system can’t make a significant difference in improving the outcomes of our children then what good is the system or how can we make the system work? It is easy for educators and bureaucrats the throw parents “under the bus” and excuse the failing system.

  5. Geddy L.
    12:40 pm on June 25th, 2013

    As with so many things wrong with New Mexico the mantra of “give em a check and they will vote for us”, still wins. With democrat pols loving abortion as they do and Hispanics keeping the Albuquerque abortion industry going strong there is no bottom to the moral pit dems will crawl into. Drugs, gangs, crime and a sick fantasy of what a “man” really is have destroyed the immigrant community. DSS see’s daily the pregnant 14 year old’s yet you never see the 25 year old men prosecuted. Santa Fe is a cesspool and the state is sinking into it. New Mexicans traded God’s blessings and protection for drive thru abortion and mayors that believe they are smarter than God’s law. Elections have consequences and the Richardson legacy is destroying the last of any morality that was left.

  6. Ron
    1:43 pm on June 25th, 2013

    This is what happens when we don”t fudge the numbers like the Liberals have been doing for eighty years.

  7. Linda M
    2:15 pm on June 25th, 2013

    I was an analyst for Republicans in the NM House in the mid-80′s. While covering the Education Committee, I had reason to research some budget and income numbers. As a group, government employees, and the sub-group of teachers, were BY FAR the “wealthiest” demographic group in the state. NM was hovering in our customary 48th and 49th spots in child welfare and education stats, and the “wealthiest” were asking the group that earned HALF their per capita income to pay more for less, including raises for teachers and bureaucrats. We were then, as now, spending more per student than more half of our sister states. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? Here’s a clue . . . the Democrat stranglehold on government and the courts!

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