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blog posts for Megan

Clarification On NMiF December 6 Broadcast

By Gene Grant, NMiF Host

I’d like to make an important clarification regarding our discussion on the December 6, 2013 episode of New Mexico in Focus about the National Journal profile of Jay McCleskey. The writer was Daniel Libit, interestingly, a native of Albuquerque.

One of the points the article made was the amount of money paid to McCleskey Media Strategies by various candidates and two PAC’s, and during our discussion I proposed this point to one of our panelists, Tom Garrity:

“…the $850,000 this man has earned in about two and some years is extraordinary to me…from a New Mexico basis. It’s extraordinary. One person…”

Viewers could have inferred that Jay McCleskey has personally pocketed this amount, when the article clearly states otherwise.

From the article:

“…An analysis of campaign finance reports shows that, since Martinez’s election, the two political action committees have paid more than $850,000 in expenditures to McCleskey Media Strategies (which he at times lists under other trade names) and Public Opinion Strategies (where McCleskey’s wife is a partner). McCleskey says the setup is similar to “virtually every high-ranking elected official in the country…”

 Many of us in New Mexico work on contract. I have many times and continue to do so. The reality is that after all the expenses are paid, and in the case of political shops like McCleskey Media Strategies that can include television, radio and print media, mailers, postage, printing costs and the like, there’s a percentage left for the company. So to imply all the billings go to a firm’s owner is inaccurate.




U.S. Education Secretary Visits New Mexico

Arne Duncan and Otha Thornton
Otha Thornton, president of the National PTA, left, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan, right, talk to students at Emerson Elementary School in Albuquerque.

By Megan Kamerick, NMiF Producer

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a swing through New Mexico this week to promote President Barack Obama’s push for universal preschool.

Fewer than 40 percent of New Mexico’s 89 school districts offer Pre-K programs, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, and Duncan said that means 17,000 children in the state are not getting the kind of start they need to be successful .

Obama is pushing for $75 billion for his Preschool for All proposal, funded partially by a cigarette tax. States that want to participate would get matching funds. In New Mexico’s case, that would be $24.5 million in the first year and the state match would be $2.4 million, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Among Duncan’s stops was Emerson Elementary School in Albuquerque. In 2011, Albuquerque Public Schools selected Emerson for a major revamp. That included a new principal and all the teachers had to reapply for their jobs. They had to have an ESL (English as a Second Language) endorsement. That was one factor in the school showing gains in reading and math scores, said APS Superintendent Winston Brooks during a roundtable gathering that included Duncan, teachers, principals and community leaders. Emerson Principal Denise Brigman said another important part of improving student outcomes was the intensive professional training that teachers received in order to integrate Common Core standards into language arts and math.

Brooks said APS hopes to duplicate this model. Duncan reiterated the need for better teacher training as Common Core standards are rolled out nationwide. He went into more detail at a press briefing afterwards. That included Duncan’s criticism of how $2.5 billion in Title 2 dollars are spent each year for professional development nationally.

Duncan and Brooks also talked about the need to ensure early childhood development programs are quality programs.  Brooks added that one challenge in New Mexico is that there is no statewide systemic early childhood plan that would help ensure that quality.