All posts by admin

Impact of Early Learning

Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. on Ch. 5.1


This month, PUBLIC SQUARE continues the discussion on how to improve child well-being in New Mexico, with a look at the impact of early learning, on Thursday, November 20 at 7:00 pm on Channel 5.1, hosted by Megan Kamerick. Funding for PUBLIC SQUARE is provided in part by a new, 2-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Numerous studies indicate that there are many long-term effects on children who attend quality preschool or pre-kindergarten programs (Pre-K). Those include gains in achievement and social emotional development, less grade repetition and special education, and increased high school graduation rates.

New Mexico was ranked 25th in access to pre-kindergarten programs by the National Institute for Early Education Research. Nationwide, New Mexico has been one of the most aggressive states in boosting funding for early childhood programs.

However, advocates say there are still big gaps, with a little over half of eligible children not in Pre-K or preschool programs. Will they fall behind and stay behind?

In this program, PUBLIC SQUARE brings together parents, teachers, advocates and people who run early learning programs. Community and state leaders include Pat Dee with U.S. Bank, who is convening business leaders on this topic, as well as State Senators Linda Lopez and Craig Brandt, and Jami Jacobson, executive director of curriculum and instruction, Albuquerque Public Schools.

Quotes From PUBLIC SQUARE Participants:

“The needs are so great, the poverty is so high we are in a dire situation. If we’re talking about protecting the future, the future is going down the tubes.”
Veronica Garcia, executive director, New Mexico Voices for Children

“Brain development starts in the womb and we need to have students — who are coming into school so that we can help them be successful — who have healthy brains.”
Jami Jacobson, executive director of curriculum & instruction, Albuquerque Public Schools

“I think people don’t understand the connection between economic development and early childhood learning. It’s probably the wisest money we can spend early on in a child’s life.”
Pat Dee, community relations executive, U.S. Bank

“There’s consensus that we do need and should be focusing on early childhood. But the devil is in the details.”
Linda Lopez, State Senator

“Our community, and our state, is not organized from a child- and family-centered perspective.”
Lois Vermilya, director, University of New Mexico Family Development Program

Community Participants

Marisol Atkins
VP Operations and Program Development – United Way of Santa Fe County
Former CYFD Deputy Secretary

Annittra Atler
Adobe Acres Elementary School Principal, Early Childhood Educator

Dr. Veronica C. Garcia, Ed.D.
Executive Director, New Mexico Voices for Children
Former Cabinet Secretary of Education

Betty Lansdowne
Consultant, Center for Development and Disability, Preschool Special Education, Christina Kent EC Center Board Member
Preschool Special Education Consultant to School Districts in New Mexico

Joy Losey
Director, Covenant School of Rio Rancho President of New Mexico Child Care & Education Association

Karina Munoz-Ramos
Mother of two

Raquel Roybal
People for the Kids Board Member
Mother of 4

Dona Sosa
Pre-K Teacher at Bel-Air Elementary School
Taught kindergarten for 10 years

Lois Vermilya
Director, UNM Family Development Program
Co-Chair ECAP (Early Childhood Accountability Partnership)


Senator Craig Brandt
Rio Rancho School Board (4 yrs)
Member Senate Education Committee

Pat Dee
Community Relations Executive, U.S. Bank
Volunteer – Albuquerque Reads (Kindergarten reading tutoring program)

Senator Linda M. López
Single mom

Jami Jacobson
Executive Director, Curriculum & Instruction, Albuquerque Public Schools

Welcome Letter from Megan Kamerick

Welcome to the debut of our 4th season of Public Square, where civic dialogue takes center stage. We continue our focus on one of New Mexico’s most important issues: How to improve conditions for our vulnerable children.

PSq 401 Improving ChildWell-Being

Our first program, broadcast on October 30 at 8 p.m., tackles this critical issue head on. I invite you to see how families, community organizations, and state leadership engage in a very candid and challenging conversation about how we can improve child-well being in the Land of Enchantment.

Public Square Host Megan Kamerick interviwews NM Senator John Sapien (D)

We do considerable research on our topics and thought you would appreciate seeing some of the key information we have found. Over the years New Mexico has had consistently low rankings for child well being according to research done by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and found in their Kids Count report. In 2014 New Mexico was ranked 49th up from 50th last year. Here is a link to the report:

One study we discuss in our program was done by Kay Johnson of Johnson Group Consulting under contract to the Department of Health. That report, Serving New Mexico’s Young Children: Recommendations and Opportunities, was presented to the New Mexico Children’s Cabinet on June 11, 2014. This informative report can be seen here:

Bill Jordan, Senior Policy Advisor, NM Voices for Children speaks with Jennifer Padgett, Deputy Secretary, Children Youth and Families Dept.

I also invite you to participate in the conversation on our feedback section on this page. Please share your insights as to how best solve this problem. We also encourage you to share your thoughts about this program and potential topics for future programs. So join the conversation right here.

Also on this page you will find information about our participants and community partners. Each program we work closely with a community group who becomes part of the production process. This community producer helps us determine topics for programs, the approach to topics, and help identify potential participants. They are invaluable in providing accuracy and depth to the Public Square programs.

Public Square Improving Child Well-Being Participants

Stay tuned for our next program which looks closely at the promise of early childhood education as we consider universal Pre-Kindergarten, also called preschool. Please check our archive of previous Public Square programs many of which are very relevant to the issues we are currently discussing.

Please join the conversation and share your voice!

Megan Kamerick
Producer & Host