Next Meeting
Next CCIA Meeting: 27 June 2024, 6PM;
Guest Speaker: Susan Greenwald-Cabello
(Director, Downtown Las Cruces Partnership)
@ Kitchen Kraft (980 N Telshor Blvd)
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SarahJune 18, 2024Action AlertDear Las Crucens, Although there are many improvements in the newly revised zoning code proposal, it still severely limits how much parking businesses are allowed to have. Will you please submit a written comment about the new code? See below for more information and potential talking points. REVISED Zoning Code Proposal A newly revised version of the Las Cruces development code has been released. Improvements in the new draft include: No longer allowing cannabis dispensaries, bars, restaurants, retail stores, or grocery stores in some of the neighborhood districts (the previous version would have allowed cannabis, bars, etc with no buffer in residential neighborhoods)Added provisions for allowing livestock/animal keeping in the more rural/less dense housing areas (the previous version neglected to allow any livestock keeping at all)Restricting apartment complexes to specific neighborhood districts unless there is a Special Use Permit (the previous version would have allowed apartments in all neighborhoods) However, there continue to be issues with the proposed changes to the parking code. With the way the code is currently written, businesses will not be allowed to have enough parking for their customers. This will be especially problematic for restaurants and bars. For instance, a mid-sized 3000 square foot restaurant could have 100-120 customers with ~20 staff, yet they’d only be allowed 15 parking spaces, which would not even be enough for their employees. NOTE: City Council is having a work session about this new proposed zoning code on Monday June 24 at 1pm. PLEASE SUBMIT A COMMENT TO THE CITY Please submit comments here : https://freese.mysocialpinpoint.com/realize-las-cruces-comment-wall/ideas#/ CLICK to leave a comment at the City website Scroll down if you need more info or potential talking points. Please be respectful in your communications for the maximum positive impact. Make sure to Click on the box that says “3 Zoning Regulations” and then you will be able to make your comment. NOTE: The comment form only allows short comments. Feel free to LEAVE MULTIPLE COMMENTS in order to make your voice heard. DOWNLOAD Redline Version of Updated Proposed Code There will now be a cap on how large parking lots can be at businesses. (Existing businesses would be grandfathered in.)The required minimum number of parking places has been reduced for many types of businesses.Where the minimum allowed parking spaces is 20 or less, no more than 50% over the minimum of parking spaces will be allowed.Where the minimum allowed parking spaces is over 20, no more than 10% over the minimum of parking spaces is allowed (unless there is a parking demand study and approval up to 50% additional parking by the Community Development Director).If you want to see what minimum parking is allowed for different types of businesses in more detail, click the Blue button above to download the draft code and look at pages 196-204. POTENTIAL TALKING POINTS Here are some potential talking points about the updated proposed Zoning code. Please do NOT copy-paste these verbatim. Your communications will be most effective if you add in your own words as well. Please be respectful to make the most positive impact. Thank you for listening to the community’s concerns by ensuring we will not have retail, restaurants, bars, and cannabis in some neighborhood zones. Please do not add in a parking lot size cap. Businesses need to have the flexibility to determine their own parking needs. As written, the maximums imposed for parking will make it impossible for restaurants and other businesses to operate sustainably. [...] Read more...
WebservantJune 6, 2024Knowledge Boxhttps://www.nbcnews.com/health/cancer/cancer-patients-say-new-mexico-hospital-turned-them-away-rcna147184 Cancer patients say this hospital turned them away New Mexico’s Memorial Medical Center says it doesn’t turn away patients. Thirteen cancer patients said they met with denials of care or demands for up-front payment. June 5, 2024, 10:30 AM UTCBy Gretchen Morgenson For almost three decades, Barbara Quarrell cared for patients as a nurse in Las Cruces, New Mexico, working for many years at Memorial Medical Center, a nonprofit community hospital owned by the city and the county. So when she received a devastating cancer diagnosis in 2022, she headed to Memorial for treatment. “That’s my hospital,” she told NBC News. “My people are there.” Memorial is now operated as a for-profit facility by Lifepoint Health, a hospital chain backed by private equity, and it had other plans for her, Quarrell said. When her doctor called to schedule chemotherapy, the facility asked about her health insurance. She was covered by True Health New Mexico, a marketplace plan under the Affordable Care Act for which she paid $800 a month. No go, Memorial said, according to her doctor’s contemporaneous notes, which Quarrell provided to NBC News. Quarrell and her husband quit their jobs and relocated to Albuquerque, more than 220 miles north, where she received treatment at a facility that took her insurance. Barbara Quarrell, a former nurse who worked for Memorial Medical Center for many years, at her home in New Mexico.Paul Ratje for NBC News “They didn’t even try to make it work,” she said of Memorial. “What happened to being humane and taking care of each other?”Quarrell is not alone in being turned away for care at Memorial. Eleven other cancer patients and seven current and former Memorial clinicians described a facility in which both insured and uninsured patients requiring an array of treatments were regularly met with denials of care or demands for up-front payments. Doctors’ contemporaneous notes confirmed some of these allegations, including those of an additional patient who subsequently died. Three patients gave Memorial permission to discuss their cases with NBC News. The impact of the practices is especially pronounced among oncology patients because the nearest cancer center in the state is a four-hour drive away. Options in El Paso are at least 45 minutes away, and some plans do not cover care in other states. The denials do not occur in Memorial’s emergency department, say the people who spoke with NBC News, which would be illegal. Although Lifepoint runs the 200-bed hospital, the facility and the land it sits on is owned by Las Cruces and Dona Ana County. Denying care to patients could violate Memorial’s lease, lasting 40 years and struck with the county and city in 2004. It says the facility must generally continue providing care to “those unable to pay the full cost of healthcare services rendered to them.” Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces, N.M.Paul Ratje for NBC News Moreover, New Mexico law states: “A qualifying hospital shall accept every indigent patient who seeks health care services from the qualifying hospital,” a provision that includes undocumented residents. The state defines indigent patients as those who are at specified low-income levels and unable to pay. Hospital documents produced under open records requests show Memorial’s indigent care policy directed it to provide care to patients who were unable to pay the full costs of their treatments and discussed discounts or cost-sharing arrangements for people who met income criteria. For years, the hospital’s written indigent care policy covered cancer treatments. That changed in 2023, five yearsafter Apollo Global Management, the private-equity giant co-founded by Leon Black, bought Lifepoint. The lease requires Memorial to notify the city and county of changes it makes to services. The hospital said it notified them about excluding cancer from its indigent care policy verbally in 2016. Previously, documents show, it had always notified the city and county of changes in writing. “When a hospital denies and delays needed health care services, it is harming residents it’s supposed to serve, creating imminent danger to life and safety,” said Yolanda Diaz, founder of CARE Las Cruces, a nonprofit that receives money from the city to help patients pay for care. Diaz, who has been alerting local officials to reports of denials of care at the hospital since 2021, said the hospital, the county and the city are failing residents. Yolanda Diaz, founder of CARE Las Cruces, at her office in downtown Las Cruces.Paul Ratje for NBC News NBC News provided Memorial with the names of nine patients who spoke on the record about being turned away or having to pay up front for care. (Three other patients with similar stories asked not to be identified and another is deceased.) Some of the patients have spoken at public and recorded city and county commission meetings about being turned down for care at Memorial.Laura Thomas, Memorial’s chief financial officer since January 2023, contends that the hospital does not turn away patients and Lifepoint said “many of the assertions being made about Memorial’s practices, conduct and communications with patients are factually inaccurate.” Neither Memorial nor Lifepoint would identify specific inaccuracies or discuss the experiences of the nine patients described above, which were shared with the hospital. While Memorial says it does not deny care, two of its top officials called to apologize to two patients who had told NBC News they’d been turned away for care. Asked about these apologies, Thomas said in an email: “If a person’s takeaway, from an interaction with us, was that their care was delayed or denied, we are going to do what we can to fix that.” An Apollo spokeswoman did not provide a comment for this article.  The Radiation and Oncology Center at Memorial Medical Center.Paul Ratje for NBC News Memorial is just one facility, but the changes there underscore a nationwide trend of for-profit entities taking over nonprofit hospitals’ operations. According to the American Hospital Association, 1,219 former community hospitals now operate as for-profits, or 24% of the total, up from 729, or 12.5%, in 1981. In Las Cruces, all three hospitals are for-profit.These takeovers can change the facilities’ operations, raising questions about access to care for residents, especially those of limited means. For-profit entities can also mean higher patient charges. Data from the federal government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shows Memorial charges 6.7 times its cost of care, double that of the average nonprofit nationwide, according to research from Johns Hopkins University. A Lifepoint spokeswoman said in a statement: “Lifepoint Health is committed to a mission of making communities healthier, and we are proud of the entire team at Memorial Medical Center for the integral role they play in supporting the Las Cruces community.” In 1989, when Memorial broke ground on the cancer center, city officials said the center “will be well serving the community,” minutes from a council meeting show. That community focus continued for decades; in 2010, five years after for-profit Lifepoint began operating the center, the indigent care policy explicitly included cancer care, a Memorial document states. Other documents, also on Memorial letterhead and produced under open records requests, show cancer care was first listed as an exclusion in August 2023. Veronica Hernandez told NBC News she tried in 2019 to get treatment for breast cancer at Memorial but was repeatedly denied because she was uninsured. Although she ultimately got insurance, and help from CARE Las Cruces, to receive treatment at Memorial, the experience still rankles.  Veronica Hernandez told NBC News that Memorial turned her away for breast cancer treatment.Courtesy Veronica Hernandez; NBC News Lifepoint Health oversees the nation’s largest chain of mostly rural hospitals — 62 acute care facilities in 16 states — and is a subject of two U.S. Senate inquiries along with other health care companies owned by private equity, NBC News has reported. The investigations aim to assess the profits reaped by Apollo and other firms in the deals and whether they harmed patients and clinicians. Apollo has said it is cooperating with the inquiries. One of those investigations was launched last year by Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who is the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Democrat who chairs the committee. Grassley did not respond directly when asked about allegations that Memorial denies care, but said in a statement, “Every patient is deserving of the highest quality of care, including those in rural and underserved communities. Senator Whitehouse and I are taking a close look at how shifts in ownership may impact hospitals’ care. We’re fighting to ensure the medical system operates with positive patient outcomes at top of mind.” Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, left, and Chair Sheldon Whitehouse during a Senate Budget Committee hearing May 1.Francis Chung / Politico via AP Memorial’s longtime CEO, John Harris, declined multiple interview requests. On behalf of the hospital, another Lifepoint spokeswoman, Elizabeth Harris, (no relation) said Memorial has not received information requests from Senate investigators and that any changes to hospital policies “have always been done in close partnership with local government and community leaders.”Hospital documents do not paint such a clear picture. While Harris said Memorial notified the city and county in July 2016 that it had begun excluding cancer care from services provided to indigent patients at a discount or shared cost, a September 2016 memo on hospital letterhead detailing the policy made no such exclusion. No further policy changes were documented in the public records reviewed by NBC News until 2023 when a memo on hospital letterhead noted the cancer care exclusion. Becky Corran, a Las Cruces City Council member, said in an interview that the hospital has violated the terms of its agreement with the city and county about services it agreed to provide. The City Council has invited Memorial’s CEO to meetings over the past year to get answers, she said, but he has not shown up. “It’s a very clear sign they don’t care about the community,” she said. Asked about Corran’s comments, Harris did not respond. Private-equity firms like Apollo have taken over numerous health care companies in recent years. These firms typically load debt into the companies they buy, then slash costs to increase earnings and appeal to potential buyers in a few years. Almost one-quarter of New Mexico’s hospitals are controlled by private-equity firms, according to a study by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a nonprofit that analyzes the industry’s impact. The American Investment Council, the private-equity lobbying organization, says the industry improves health care. But independent academic studies show private-equity firms’ involvement in the industry results in significant cost increases for patients and payers, such as Medicare. A lower quality of care has been associated with the firms’ investments in health care, research shows, including 10% higher mortality rates at nursing homes owned by private equity and greater incidents of infections, blood clots and falls at hospitals. At Memorial, patients say the focus is on money. Jose A. Garcia told NBC News he had to pay $7,000 last year before he could receive treatment for kidney cancer because he was uninsured. Deborah Minser, who appeared at Memorial on May 1 for a follow-up appointment after cancer surgery, said she was turned away because her Medicaid coverage had temporarily lapsed that day. “They didn’t even say, ‘Let me call someone to work with you,’” Minser told NBC News. “They just said, ‘We can’t see you today.’” Barbara Quarrell received a cancer diagnosis in 2022. She said she had to relocate to from Las Cruces to Albuquerque, more than 220 miles north, to receive treatment at a facility that took her insurance.Courtesy Barbara Quarrell The federal government defines indigent care as services provided to “patients whose health insurance coverage, if any, does not provide full coverage for all of their medical expenses.” Memorial’s promotional materials say such care is central to its work. “Delivering care to all of our neighbors, regardless of their ability to pay, is foundational to our mission and our commitment to our community,” the hospital says. That is not the experience Cynthia Arreola said she had when she approached Memorial in 2021 after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. She had insurance, but the hospital demanded she pay her deductible up front, she said, before she could get an appointment. “It came down to, ‘If you don’t have money, you cannot have the scans or MRI,’” Arreola, 41, recalled in an interview. “I had to have my family help me come up with that money and get my testing done so I could start my chemo.” She said dealing with Memorial was “always a hassle, a battle.” So, she found a cancer clinic in El Paso that offered a financial assistance program and let her pay what she owed after she received care. “I ended up moving somewhere else because I had the pressure of cancer and the monetary pressure,” she said. She also said the charges for treatments in El Paso were roughly one-quarter of what Memorial charged. Memorial’s financial results are not public, but data from CMS supports Arreola’s view of its costs. In 2021, the most recent figures available, Memorial charged 6.7 times its costs for care. The average among for-profit hospitals across the U.S. is less than five times, according to Ge Bai, professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Washington, D.C. The CMS hospital comparison site confirms Medicare costs per beneficiary at Memorial are both higher than the national average and almost 20% higher than the state average. Even so, Memorial received two stars out of a possible five in overall quality, the site said. Not surprisingly, Memorial has been profitable, CMS data shows. In 2021, it reported $28.5 million in net income on service to patients, a 9.3% profit on net patient revenues of $305.6 million. That’s well above the median 6.5% margin reported at a sample of more than 4,000 hospitals during the period.  Lifepoint spokeswoman Harris said it would be “more fitting” to compare Memorial’s charges with other hospitals in the region levying similar or higher costs. Across the state, there are 12 hospitals serving communities like Memorial’s and six of them lost money in the period according to data from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, a nonprofit that advocates for improvements in health care payment and delivery systems. Of the other five that made money, their profit margins averaged 14.5%. Even as Memorial charges patients well over its costs, it ranks low in community benefits, according to the Lown Institute Hospitals Index — a measure of a hospital’s contributions to the population it serves. Memorial received one star out of five in financial assistance programs for the indigent or underinsured and ranks 28 out of 32 hospitals in New Mexico for benefits to the community, according to Lown, a nonprofit. Harris did not comment on the Lown ranking. Dona Ana County, the urban and rural region Memorial serves, has a population of 225,000 and almost 15% have no health insurance, recent census figures show. Some 23% of county residents live in poverty, compared with 11.5% nationwide. Memorial said it has donated more than $150 million in health care services to benefit the community from 2020 through 2023. In a 2021 report, Memorial said it donated more than $32 million “to those in need.” Asked for a breakdown, Memorial told NBC News that $1.7 million was charity care, defined as health care provided without any attempt to receive payment. A far greater amount — $18.3 million — consisted of forgiveness for bad debt, or health care for which Memorial had tried unsuccessfully to receive payments. Another $11.1 million consisted of “uninsured discounts,” or unpaid amounts for care based on what the hospital charges above its costs. “For indigent care patients, charity care is the more relevant number,” Bai of Johns Hopkins said, regarding Memorial’s contributions. “Uninsured discounts is a bogus number that just discounts off the hospital’s charges,” such as the $670 Memorial charges for care that costs it $100 to provide. CMS does not consider bad debt forgiveness to be charity care contributions, she said. Health care experts assess charity care by comparing it to a facility’s total expenses, and under such a calculation Memorial’s $1.7 million in charity care is low, research shows. The average for-profit hospital in the U.S. provided charity care equal to 3.8% of its expenses, according to research published in Health Affairs in 2021. At Memorial that year, charity care totaled just 0.54% of its expenses or about one-half of 1%.  Harris, the Lifepoint spokeswoman, said comparisons to national levels of charity care are “difficult” because more of Memorial’s patients are on Medicare or Medicaid. Memorial does not authorize collection agencies to sue patients with past due balances and does not report balances to credit bureaus, she added. Barbara Quarrell lets her dogs out at her home in Las Cruces. Paul Ratje for NBC News In 2022, Nancy Skinner’s doctor ordered a biopsy to assess a growth in her left leg. A longtime Las Crucen, she went to Memorial for the service but because she had only Medicare Part A insurance coverage, the hospital balked. “They said, ‘You have to come up with $2,000,’” she said. “’Pay that and we’ll do the procedure.’” She said she had to take out a bank loan. After receiving the results, she needed a PET scan. Memorial said it would schedule her if she paid $1,600, she recalled. “I said, ‘Can I make payments?’ They said no,” she said. A friend paid the cost. Skinner said she received excellent care at a University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque that had no problems with her insurance. But she wanted to have radiation treatments closer to home. She signed up for Medicare Part B as soon as she could in 2023. Delays in cancer care can jeopardize a patient’s life. Still, she said, Memorial refused to treat her until its computer systems showed her Part B application had gone through. “I don’t know who’s making these decisions but they’re not looking out for our best interests,” she said. “I spent four months begging them, but they didn’t seem to care.” Robert Garza, a former Las Cruces city manager, sat on the board of Memorial for 16 years beginning in the early 2000s. After he retired, CEO Harris invited him to rejoin the board representing the community, he told NBC News. Garza stayed for three more years, becoming board chairman.  Garza said the hospital’s indigent care program was working well under a program with funding from the county and federal government. That changed after the Affordable Care Act passed, he said, and government money disappeared. The hospital had to eat what he said was $6 million a year in indigent care costs. He said he thinks the hospital is not violating the lease, which requires the facility to continue providing services as long as there is “no major adverse change in funding” at the facility. Garza said he thinks the ACA represented such a change.Others aren’t so sure. A July 2023 memo from the Las Cruces city attorney that noted patients had been alleging denials of care says a determination that the hospital was violating the lease “would depend upon a number of factors and require an analysis.” Garza predicted the matter will likely end up in court. Such an outcome has occurred at two other formerly nonprofit hospitals far from Las Cruces. Last year, the North Carolina attorney general sued HCA Healthcare over its 2019 acquisition of Mission Hospital in Asheville, and in 2022, The Foundation for Delaware County sued Prospect Medical Holdings, owner of Crozer Health Systems, a four-hospital chain in the Philadelphia area. Both facilities were accused of failing to provide the care they promised when they converted to for-profits.  HCA is fighting the case and Prospect, owned by private equity until 2021, is trying to sell the Crozer hospitals to a nonprofit. Corran, of the Las Cruces City Council, said city attorneys are looking at the hospital agreements to evaluate next steps. To Diaz, of CARE Las Cruces, Memorial, the city and county have betrayed the community. “Everybody has turned their back,” she said. Hernandez told NBC News she felt betrayed when Memorial turned her away for breast cancer treatment. Then, in mid-May, a few weeks after NBC News told Memorial about her experience, Hernandez received a surprising phone call. Two women were on the line — Memorial’s director of admissions and the head of the cancer center. What did they want? To apologize, Hernandez said. Minser, another patient, also received a phone call from the women apologizing. “Because we are making noise that they don’t like,” Hernandez said. “That’s why they apologized.” [...] Read more...
SarahMay 27, 2024Action AlertDear Las Crucens, Recently, Congressional Representative Gabe Vasquez (District 2) voted to allow illegal immigrants to vote in Washington DC. This is an affront to the integrity of our elections! Will you please email and/or call Representative Vasquez to express your concerns? See below for more information and potential talking points. THE SITUATION On May 23, the US House of Representatives voted on a Bill that would have prohibited illegal immigrants from voting in Washington DC. Although this Bill passed, our local Representative Gabe Vasquez voted against the Bill. In essence, his vote was the equivalent of saying that it is okay for illegal immigrants to vote in USA elections. Links for more info: Vote tally: https://clerk.house.gov/Votes/2024232Read the Bill: https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-bill/192 HOW TO TAKE ACTION PLEASE EMAIL/CALL REPRESENTATIVE GABE VASQUEZ Email: [email protected] Cruces office: (575) 323-6390Washington DC office: (202) 225-2365 POTENTIAL TALKING POINTS Please do NOT copy-paste these verbatim. Your communications will be most effective if you add in your own words as well. Please be respectful to make the most positive impact. Voting is a right for those who are citizens of this country, and not for those who do not have citizenship.Your vote to allow illegal immigrants to vote in Washington DC undermines the integrity of our elections.As your constituent, I am appalled that you voted to continue allowing noncitizens to vote.I disapprove of your recent vote to allow noncitizens to vote in Washington DC. As your constituent, I am asking you to stand up for fair elections and vote against any allowance for noncitizens to vote. [...] Read more...
Rob WoodMay 26, 2024Sound-OffIt just blows my mind how many professed Christians have never taken the time to read the book Christianity is based on. Over and over I have asked for the Biblical passages that support the physical Church offering anything about politics. To me it is obvious that if they have to have their pastor speak on voting with regards to morality the congregants should go home and read the book so time is not wasted doing their homework for them.In the letters section of the WSJ 24/05/2024: The Bible According to Trump Franklin Graham’s (son of Billy Graham) support for the Donald Trump-endorsed Bible is nothing short of blasphemy (“Evangelist Confronts Politics in Religion,” U.S. News, May 13). The inclusion of U.S. founding documents lends itself to the exaggerated charges of Christian nationalism now leveled by progressives. The appearance of adding non-canonical books to scripture cheapens the sanctity of the entire text. REV. MICHAEL P. ORSI Naples, Fla. Having at one time worked with the Billy Graham Crusade and now reading over the handbook we used for evangelism I found this thinking to be totally out of line with Franklin Grahams fathers. No where in any of Paul’s letters to all the first Churches is political involvement or nationalistic viewpoint supported or suggested. This idea of Christian nationalism is an absolute distortion of the Truth as found in The Word Of God. There is no such thing as a Christian nation offered in the New Testament especially in light of one thinking God will save America. Any Christian should already know this. Rob [...] Read more...
Rob WoodMay 19, 2024Sound-OffOn Being RightFor years I felt less than because of a school system that makes anyone that attends it feel that they are flawed or deficient if they get answers wrong. I am sure you know the feeling.Later in life I chose to start reading even though a slow reader (which affected my performance in school) so that I would not so much have the correct answers but be more informed on the many problems that plague us so that I could, instead, sort out not the answer but the flaws in the questions being asked. By being better informed I hopefully could come up with more pertinent questions that were not being asked so that a path to a right or more correct answer could be pursued.Every time I post something of controversy or email out a commentary I am looking for feedback. I am not looking for the thumbs up or the thumbs down or worst of all the ones that can only say they agree or disagree. If they do not explain why in either response all that they have done is offer a baseless opinion that I guess provides them with the ego stroking they desire. I think it is because they fear exposure of how little they know on the subject. That’s why I always offer resources so possibly they may choose to be better informed.Here’s one: “Decision Point” by GW BushLife and issues are all about dialogue. We must stop this insanity and be willing to risk so that we can get feedback so we better evaluate our position. We must be willing to be wrong. If we are unwilling to fail or be wrong we can never grow emotionally and intellectually. Obviously throughout my life I have been wrong a lot, but I learned when it is pointed out to look deeper into the subject so in the future I can be less wrong.Two people really opened my eyes to this. One was the President of Raytheon Corporation who in an interview said he had just competed a two year study of every major decision he had made and he claimed he was wrong more times than he wanted to admit. The other was the President of The American Bar Association also in an interview who said the American Justice system is horrible, however what was second place was so far down the scale that we of course are seen as the best.I write a ton on education reform and send to a broad base. I can only assume I am at least more right because all the ones that say I am wrong never come back when asked with anything that says why. The same goes for the ones that agree. I guess they all have the mentality taught in 1st grade of T or F.Why are we so afraid of being wrong when all success is based on failure and then recovery? A ski instructor told me that if I was not falling I was not learning because I was not pushing the envelope of what I was comfortable with.Rob [...] Read more...
Rob WoodMay 14, 2024Sound-OffI sent the following to School Board Member Ed Frank.Good Morning Ed,My youngest brother is the manager of world wide sales for IBM’s Quantum Computer. He sits with many PhD’s and it is not uncommon for the talks to turn to the lack of American scientists and computer engineers needed to advance the technology of today. I sent him the following which as a school board member I hope you might also take to heart and share with others. The Board can crunch untold volumes of funding numbers but in the end the question still remains. “Are we preparing our children to be able to prosper in their lives and at the same time add value to the nation as a whole?” Attn: Kenneth WoodI hope you can find the time to think about what I am writing here for understanding the quandary we are in and you as an industry leader are facing.The following is out of the 48 page report “A Nation At Risk” written in 1982. I encourage anyone with the slightest interest in preparation of children and regaining the lead America once held read it because this quote from it is far more sobering today than it was 42 years ago: If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have even squandered the gains in student achievement made in the wake of the Sputnik challenge. Moreover, we have dismantled essential support systems which helped make those gains possible. We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament. From page 11 of “A Nation At Risk” Indicators of the Risk The educational dimensions of the risk before us have been amply documented in testimony received by the Commission. For example:  x International comparisons of student achievement, completed a decade ago, reveal that on 19 academic tests American students were never first or second and, in comparison with other industrialized nations, were last seven times. x Some 23 million American adults are functionally illiterate by the simplest tests of everyday reading, writing, and comprehension.   x About 13 percent of all 17-year-olds in the United States can be considered functionally illiterate. Functional illiteracy among minority youth may run as high as 40 percent. x Average achievement of high school students on most standardized tests is now lower than 26 years ago when Sputnik was launched.   x Over half the population of gifted students do not match their tested ability with comparable achievement in school.  x The College Board’s Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) demonstrate a virtually unbroken decline from 1963 to 1980. Average verbal scores fell over 50 points and average mathematics scores dropped nearly 40 points.   x College Board achievement tests also reveal consistent declines in recent years in such subjects as physics and English.  x Both the number and proportion of students demonstrating superior achievement on the SATs (i.e., those with scores of 650 or higher) have also dramatically declined.   x Many 17-year-olds do not possess the “higher order” intellectual skills we should expect of them. Nearly 40 percent cannot draw inferences from written material; only one-fifth can write a persuasive essay; and only one-third can solve a mathematics problem requiring several steps.   x There was a steady decline in science achievement scores of U.S. 17-year-olds as measured by national assessments of science in 1969, 1973, and 1977.  x Between 1975 and 1980, remedial mathematics courses in public 4-year colleges increased by 72 percent and now constitute one-quarter of all mathematics courses taught in those institutions.   x Average tested achievement of students graduating from college is also lower.   x Business and military leaders complain that they are required to spend millions of dollars on costly remedial education and training programs in such basic skills as reading, writing, spelling, and computation.  The Department of the Navy, for example, reported to the Commission that one-quarter of its recent recruits cannot read at the ninth grade level, the minimum needed simply to understand written safety instructions. Without remedial work they cannot even begin, much less complete, the sophisticated training essential in much of the modern military. These deficiencies come at a time when the demand for highly skilled workers in new fields is accelerating rapidly. For example: x Computers and computer-controlled equipment are penetrating every aspect of our lives–homes, factories, and offices. x One estimate indicates that by the turn of the century millions of jobs will involve laser technology and robotics. x Technology is radically transforming a host of other occupations. They include health care, medical science, energy production, food processing, construction, and the building, repair, and maintenance of sophisticated scientific, educational, military, and industrial equipment. Oh sure we can look at our own kids and say they are doing ok but the nation at large absolutely isn’t. This is where the book I sent you “Thank You For Being Late” comes in. The covid shutdown of schools was the most glaring example how far education has slipped behind. The educational system could not figure out how to implement technology developed in 1970, the personal computer. This tech has been left out because it threatens the teachers up front of a class who have no idea how to integrate it anywhere near the level its capabilities provide. There is no other reason. From what I am reading those covid chrome books were shelved back in the coat closet as teachers once again took control. I wrote the following to the New York Times back in 2017: Why do we keep kicking this dog down the road? If anything homework needs to be done at school where the learning facilitator can help the students in the process. Quit trying to change education while at the same time trying to maintain the 150-year-old “does not work anymore” model just so we do not disrupt teacher jobs. A must read is Sal Khan’s “The One World Schoolhouse, Education Reimagined”. The ultimate of frustration is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. This is where Clayton Christensen’s writing in 2007, “Disrupting Class” and his co-author, Michael Horn’s book in 2022, “From Reopen to Reinvent” should be coming to the forefront of any discussion on what to do next. The paradigm shift at this late stage of the game has no other choice than to majorly affect entrenched societal norms like public education being the free daycare for all and even the 8-5 work/school day.I hope this is being discussed at IBM.Rob  [...] Read more...
WebservantApril 21, 2024Education / Knowledge BoxDear Las Cruces area parents, Many parents are unaware of some important issues and policies affecting students in Las Cruces schools including: New state laws that allow children of any age to access abortion and transgender healthcare without parental consent or notification (Reference: HB7 Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Care) o  These laws also impose fines of $5,000 on school nurses or teachers who do not facilitate access to this healthcare Transgender affirmation in Las Cruces schools (Reference: LCPS Regulation JBD – Gender Inclusive Schools) o  Biologically-male transgender students are allowed to use girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms o  Transgender students are allowed to participate in sports in their chosen gender identity, thereby potentially displacing girls by requiring them to compete with biological boys who are naturally stronger and faster o  “Comfort closets” at several schools are being used by students to change their gender appearance at school Age-inappropriate sexually explicit books in school libraries o  Adult “erotic romance” books are listed in LCPS middle and high school library catalogs o  Such books contain graphic descriptions of sex acts, anal sex, and bondage, including illegal sex acts between adults and minors o  Three examples are Jack of Hearts and Other Parts book in Mayfield High School library. Push book at Organ Mountain High School, and Court of Silver Flames book listed in Sierra Middle School and 3 high school libraries We have a working group of concerned citizens and parents who are working to increase parent awareness of these issues and push for improvements in LCPS policies.  Three questions for you: 1.  Would you be interested in attending a parents’ forum where you can learn more about these issues in LCPS? If so, which of the following are best for availability?  Weekday evening or Saturday afternoonCurrent semester, summer, or next semester 2.  Do you want to receive updates about these issues? 3.  Are you potentially interested in getting involved in these efforts?  Thanks for your time. Feel free to share this with other parents who may be interested. Please let me know if you want to be removed from this email list.  Sincerely,Sarah Smith Las Cruces, NM [...] Read more...
SarahMarch 29, 2024Action AlertDear Las Crucens, The City is updating their Zoning code and this could potentially impact ALL people living and working in Las Cruces. The City is accepting comments on the draft of the new code until April 5th. UPDATE: The City is still accepting comments as of April 25. Will you please submit a written comment about the new code? See below for more information and potential talking points. Updated Zoning Code This 9-minute video explains the changes in the new proposed Zoning code: IMPORTANT UPDATES: The City has confirmed that the new proposed code will REMOVE the 300-foot buffer requirement between cannabis dispensaries and homes.There is currently no mention in the code of what areas will allow livestock. They have completely removed the zoning that previously allowed for livestock in certain areas. Please submit comments here: https://freese.mysocialpinpoint.com/realize-las-cruces-comment-wall/ideas#/ Scroll down if you need more info or potential talking points. Please be respectful in your communications for the maximum positive impact. Make sure to Click on the box that says “3 Zoning Regulations” and then you will be able to make your comment. NOTE: The comment form only allows short comments. Feel free to LEAVE MULTIPLE COMMENTS in order to make your voice heard. More Info About the Zoning Changes Download proposed Zoning Code Download proposed Zoning Map The proposed new Zoning code for Las Cruces includes some significant changes. There will no longer be single-family residential zoning in Las Cruces.In general, existing residential areas will be re-zoned to Neighborhood Districts (NH1, NH2, or NH3), which will all allow for a mixture of single family homes, duplexes, apartments, and mobile homes. See the map below that shows the proposed zoning for each area of Las Cruces. All neighborhood districts (NH1, NH2, and NH3) will allow some types of businesses to be present as well as schools, city facilities, museums, andprofessional offices (allowed in NH2 and NH3, special-use-permit required for NH1)medical clinics (NH2 and NH3)hotels (NH2 and NH3)banks (NH2 and NH3)grocery/retail stores/restaurants (allowed in NH2 and NH3, special-use-permit required for NH1). Gas pumps are allowed in neighborhood district NH3. Special-use-permit required for gas pumps in NH2 and NH3.Liquor stores are allowed in neighborhood district NH3.Bars are allowed in neighborhood districts NH2 and NH3. Special-use-permit required for NH1. Cannabis dispensaries are allowed in ALL neighborhood districts (NH1, NH2, and NH3). Cannabis indoor agriculture is allowed in NH3, but special use permits would be required for NH1 and NH2.The new code will REMOVE the 300-foot buffer requirement between cannabis businesses and homes. There will now be a cap on how large parking lots can be at businesses. (Existing businesses would be grandfathered in.)The required minimum number of parking places has been reduced for many types of businesses.Where the minimum allowed parking spaces is 20 or less, no more than 50% over the minimum of parking spaces will be allowed.Where the minimum allowed parking spaces is over 20, no more than 10% over the minimum of parking spaces is allowed (unless there is a parking demand study and approval up to 50% additional parking by the Community Development Director).If you want to see what minimum parking is allowed for different types of businesses in more detail, download the draft code above and look at pages 194-202.There is currently no mention in the code of what areas will allow livestock. They have completely removed the zoning that previously allowed for livestock in certain areas. Potential Talking Points Here are some potential talking points about the new Zoning code. Please do NOT copy-paste these verbatim. Your communications will be most effective if you add in your own words as well. Please be respectful to make the most positive impact. The new code removes single family residential zoning altogether. This is wrong. There are many people and families who want to live in neighborhoods with only homes (with no businesses, apartments, etc). There need to be some areas of town that maintain the ability to have homes only, without businesses, apartments, etc. Cannabis needs to have at least the same restrictions as liquor. Please make the cannabis dispensary zoning restrictions consistent with those for liquor by not allowing dispensaries in Zone NH1. The new Code allows bars in neighborhood zones NH2 and NH3, as well as NH1 with a special use permit. Families need to have the option to live in neighborhoods without bars. Please do not add in a parking lot size cap. Businesses need to have the flexibility to determine their own parking needs. 2 [...] Read more...

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