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Morning Word: Me Can Read

July 25, 2017, 7:30 am

Underwhelming PARCC results
PARCC is the standardized test New Mexico public school students take to show if they're reading and doing math at grade level. They're not. Fewer than 29 percent of the state's students are reading at grade level—which is actually a slight improvement—and only about 20 percent are proficient in math. The Word isn't sure if that's underwhelming or overwhelmingly bad. Little of both?

Surprise!
Unfortunately, this is the bad kind. New Mexico outpaces national trends when it comes to surprise billing for out-of-network health care costs. The Office of the Superintendent of Insurance says a study in New Mexico shows 31 percent of patients have been unexpectedly billed at higher out-of-network rates for medical care they thought was covered in their network. The office is convening a panel to consider options for consumer protection legislation, though a measure that would have done that didn't get enough attention from legislators last session.

City ponders preventing 'oops'
After stucco crews slapped tan goo over a decades-old mural on City Hall recently, councilors on a city committee wondered openly Monday how to stop it from happening again. The general consensus seemed to be better communication, though some councilors said it should take place at a staff level instead of bringing every project to the committee's or council's attention. Staff pointed out such a mistake rarely happens, but admitted it was embarrassing.

Overworked, underpaid
That could describe a lot of people, but it seems to be especially true of prison guards. Despite a pay hike meant to attract more people to the business of corrections, the state's vacancy rate for guards is at 22 percent. Legislators and the governor are busy pointing fingers at each other. The second phase of a pay increase plan has been shelved due to the state's tight budget. 

Justice denied?
The state Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow as it considers the pleas of public defenders who say their office is too cash-strapped to handle the number of cases sent its way. The issue came to a head in Lincoln County recently, where a judge held the state's chief public defender in contempt of court after he turned down cases, citing the inability to provide a competent defense for those accused of a crime who cannot afford an attorney.

Arnold-Jones in for CD1
Former state representative Janice Arnold-Jones is running for the congressional seat in Albuquerque that's up for grabs after Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a run for governor. Arnold-Jones served four terms in the House, earning a reputation for supporting transparency laws. She faces Michael Hendricks, an attorney, who is the other Republican who has declared a run for Congress.

New homes for Four Corners pets
An anonymous donation to the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter covered the cost of adoptions last week, which meant 277 pets were adopted out to new homes. The shelter said it opened for business this week with just 12 animals in house, none of which were in the shelter last week.

Buyer beware?
Back in November, 40 percent of the state's voters chose Donald Trump as their pick for president. Today, the president's job approval rating in New Mexico is 37 percent. That's according to Gallup, which says that number is the 11th-lowest in the country and trails the president's national approval rating by three percentage points. Fifty-six percent of polls respondents were unhappy with Trump's performance as leader of our country.

Thanks for reading! The Word wonders how many consecutive non-breakfast meals of Asian food is too many.

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