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Education Loss as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic and What We Can Do Moving Forward

By Senator Pete Campos

New Mexico has once again been ranked 49th in the nation for education quality. As the
COVID-19 pandemic has continued to push students out of classrooms and onto computer
screens, the learning capacity and quality in schools have only decreased. Recent assessments
have shown that students' reading scores have declined between three and six percentage points,
and their math scores have declined between eight and 12 percentage points. Prior to the start of
the COVID-19 pandemic, students in New Mexico were about four months behind their peers
based on standardized learning benchmarks. Now that the effects of remote learning in the face
of the COVID-19 pandemic are being revealed, this deficiency has increased, showing that
students are now up to six months behind their learning progress benchmarks.

At-risk student populations are especially vulnerable to these education shortfalls. Native
American, Black, Hispanic, low-income and younger students have shown significantly lower
achievement gains during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that New Mexico has a large
proportion of both students of color and students from low-income families, uncovering solutions to education loss needs to be a top priority for our state. Quality education is the foundation of success for the upcoming generation, and it is our responsibility as residents of this state to ensure that our students have access to an education that will set them up for bright futures.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, New Mexico received a waiver from the United States
Department of Education that allowed schools to opt out of standardized testing requirements.
While this measure was intended to reduce strain on educators and students, it left decision
makers without the data needed to analyze student progress and the effectiveness of school
interventions. If we want to close the achievement gap, it is crucial that we have measurable
results for student success in addition to concrete mechanisms for holding schools accountable.
School districts across the state are in desperate need of resources and a strategy for tracking
student progress, as well as identifying, implementing and monitoring evidence-based
interventions to address lost instructional time.

New Mexico is in a unique position with ample funding to support the programs that have been effective at ameliorating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including extra
instructional time, tutoring options and innovative teaching methods. This funding has been
made available to school districts to address unfinished learning, but it has gone largely
underutilized. In 2020, for example, New Mexico public schools were given $1.5 billion to
respond to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. While some school districts
opted to devote large sums toward unfinished learning solutions, other school districts elected to
spend only the bare minimum required. Further, approximately one-half of New Mexico school
districts chose not to participate in an extended school year or extended learning programs, and
14 of the 89 school districts did not provide any plan to address unfinished learning. These
variances can easily increase the learning inequities that are already present in our schools.

Rather than allowing these vast differences in funding and program implementation to persist, we should be pushing for schools to implement extended learning time programs (ELTPs) to allow students that have fallen behind to catch up, and schools should be strongly encouraged to use more of the funds available to them to address unfinished learning. Moreover, at the state level, we must give serious consideration to providing teachers with seven percent salary raises. It is critical that we explore ways of attracting youth toward careers in education, where they can go on to influence future generations of New Mexicans.

The roadblocks that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed will impact how we educate our
students long into the future, but the negative effects of lost learning can be mitigated if we act
now to address these concerns. Thankfully, New Mexico is in an excellent position to
foundationally change the way that schools are educating our state's children. By using these
unprecedented levels of funding and gathering the data to inform effective solutions, we can
close the achievement gap and give students the resources that they need to learn to their fullest
potential.

"Legislative Victory a Win for the People"

By Senator Greg Baca (District 29-Bernalillo and Valencia), Senate Republican Leader

SANTA FE — Below is an editorial from Senate Republican Leader Greg Baca (District 29-Bernalillo, Valencia) following the monumental New Mexico Supreme Court decision handed down yesterday. For distribution questions please respond to this email.

During oral arguments this week, Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, Michael Vigil, asked Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's attorney, "Didn't you just rewrite the Constitution?"

Unfortunately, that is exactly what the Governor had hoped to do when she tried to unilaterally spend billions of dollars in public money without public input or legislative approval. It is no secret. For the past 18 months, Governor Lujan Grisham has exercised virtually unchecked power in New Mexico. Thankfully, some of that power was finally reined in on Wednesday when Justice Vigil and the high court ruled in favor of the Constitution and reaffirmed what the founders believed—that those closest to the people are best suited to represent them.

Enter the New Mexico Legislature, comprised of 112 volunteer members from around the state. We are accountable to our citizen neighbors and we are best suited to appropriate their money. Earlier this year, we earmarked hundreds of millions of federal recovery dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act to fix our roads, expand broadband access, and replenish our unemployment insurance program. Though we did not all agree on where that money was going, there was transparency and public input throughout the process, and the budget ultimately cleared the House and Senate with majority support. The Governor responded by vetoing these appropriations and others, claiming that she alone had control over the allocation of federal funds.

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Power The Future Slams Biden Administration Opposition to Line 5 Pipeline

Washington, D.C. - Today, Daniel Turner, founder and Executive Director of Power The Future issued the following statement in response to public reports about the Biden Administration's early efforts to shut down the Line 5 pipeline in Michigan:

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. The Biden Administration's stubborn and wrong-headed opposition to pipelines has, in less than a year, transformed America from energy independent to begging foreign cartels to produce more supply" said Daniel Turner, Executive Director of Power The Future. "From Keystone to Nordstream 2 to now Line 5, it is clear that this Administration will stop at nothing to keep the lunatic fringe left among their rapidly shrinking group of supporters. With leadership like this, it should come as no surprise that gas prices are hitting all-time highs at the same time Biden's approval sinks to 38 percent."

The Biden Administration's efforts to further undermine America's energy supply come as families pay the highest prices at the pump in years and the cost to heat homes is expected to rise as much as 50 percent this winter.

Two taboo political topics in NM

There are two political topics in New Mexico that are taboo to talk about. The first is that no state in the United States has had single party Democrat rule at the state level longer than New Mexico. The second is that there is even the possibility of a connection between single party Democrat rule and the tremendous problems the state has.

For those who are unaware, the last time that Republicans held a majority in both houses of the New Mexico state legislature at the same time was 1930. In the last 91 years, Democrats have held a majority in both houses of the legislature for 81 of the 91 years. In our court system, the last time Republicans held a majority on the New Mexico State Supreme Court was in the 1920s. Our Court of Appeals was formed in 1966 and has never had a Republican majority. Currently all five justices on our Supreme Court and 9 of the 10 judges on our Court of Appeals are Democrats. There are 33,178 days between January 1,1931 and November 2,2021 during which time Republicans held the governor's office for 11,694 days or just 35% of the time. Even when we have had a Republican governor during that time, that governor has never held a Republican majority of both houses of the state legislature while in office, greatly limiting his or her power.

And what has 91 years of Democrat stewardship brought New Mexico? Here are just a few salient examples.

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Governor Lujan Grisham to Double-Down on Failed Eco-Policies

Albuquerque – Today, Power the Future Communications Director Larry Behrens released the following statement in response to New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announcing she will seek to enact clean car standards and a renewable portfolio goal in the upcoming legislative session.

"The proposals put forth by the Governor today will do nothing more than increase the green tax on New Mexico's working families.

"It's incredible to hear the Governor and her eco-supporters celebrate policies that are causing energy prices to skyrocket both in Europe and here at home. Families are going to pay more to heat their homes this winter than they have in years and there is real concern about brownouts facing New Mexico next summer. Our families deserve ideas that are based in reality, not failed ideology."

Power The Future Statement on Governor Lujan Grisham's Junket to UN Climate Summit

Albuquerque – Today, Power The Future Communications Director Larry Behrens released the following statement regarding Governor Lujan Grisham's plans to attend the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow:

"New Mexico is a national leader in unemployment and rising electric bills so it's no surprise Governor Lujan Grisham wants to jet off to Scotland and leave her record behind. Additionally, it is the height of hypocrisy for the Governor to hop on a plane instead of appearing virtually. New Mexicans deserve better than a Governor who depends on fossil fuels to travel and for her budget but then undermines our energy workers at elitist resorts among her friends."

Power The Future is a national non-profit organization advancing America's energy interests. You can learn more at www.PowerTheFuture.Com

New Mexico is facing its own energy crisis

By Paul J. Gessing

Western Europe is facing an energy crisis this winter. Prices have skyrocketed. Natural gas is 400% higher than the start of 2021 while coal is up over 300%. As if high prices weren't enough of a problem, 40% of the natural gas that Europe uses comes from Vladamir Putin's Russia, an unreliable supplier to say the least.

New Mexicans should take heed. Thankfully, despite the Biden Administration's permitting ban on federal lands (since invalidated by a judge), New Mexico has steady supplies of oil and natural gas. Those supplies help protect us from wild price swings and supply disruptions like those that could cause massive economic pain and human suffering in Europe this winter.

While we'll be fine this winter, New Mexico's largest utility is facing serious challenges finding enough electricity by next summer. Due to the Energy Transition Act of 2019 which forms the cornerstone of Gov. Lujan Grisham's "Green New Deal" agenda, the San Juan Generating Station is slated to be permanently shut down next June during the hottest part of next summer.

PNM executives have stated clearly that the hunt for "renewable" power to replace San Juan Generating Station is not going well. Even in the best of circumstances "renewables" like solar and wind are inconsistent and require backup like batteries, but the pandemic has hit supply chains hard and projects are being delayed.

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Freedom is not free

This sounds like a cliché, because it is mentioned so much.

In actuality, freedom is not free, because of the blood shed by Americans and military members in wars ever since the American Revolution established the United States of America.

Americans, in general, are an independent lot. They believe that their rights as stated for them in the Declaration of Independence and secured in the Constitution are God-given and cannot be taken away by fiat by someone who simply thinks he/she is in a position of authority.

The U.S. government was formed to be "of the people, by the people and for the people," as President Abraham Lincoln so eloquently proclaimed in the Gettysburg Address.

The U.S. Constitution is the "supreme law of the land."

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