In May, just as schools were wrapping up the year, I met with students and educators all over New Mexico, slogging to finish off what many recalled as the most unpleasant year “in” classrooms. Students everywhere, whether learning in person or remotely, struggled to finish a year of uncertainty, anxiety and less-than-ideal schooling conditions.
Hearing from students over in rural, northeastern New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation and right here in Santa Fe clearly illuminated that, while online learning is painful enough, not everyone has an equal access to a quality education they’re entitled to. The discrepancies in our state’s educational landscape were glaring, even a year into the pandemic.
We brought readers the story of New Mexico’s belabored and insufficient broadband infrastructure, and highlighted the work of some in the state to bring all families up to speed. But the reality is, threats to New Mexico students extend beyond internet access (or lack thereof.)
It’s our mission to listen to the voices of our community and our state’s most vulnerable populations and to share their message with our incredible readers who have the ability to make the necessary changes.
We funded that project, documenting New Mexico’s digital divide, by partnering with the national educational media outlet, The Hechinger Report. But we can’t continue to produce honest, influential, human reporting without the support of our community at home.
I came to the Reporter after a half decade of teaching in public schools in New York City and in international institutions in Tanzania and Nepal. My passion for education led me to New Mexico, where I’ve had the opportunity to report on schools, students and policy, locally and statewide.
In Santa Fe, we’re lucky to have multiple newsrooms covering the state capital, but the Reporter provides coverage that no one else can. And through that coverage we help readers parse between what’s really going on in the government, schools and everywhere the public has a right to know.
Under the experienced leadership of the Reporter’s news and culture editors, we sustain our appetite for accountability off the crumbs that fall from the table of elected officials and monied influence. We stave off sleep to report the pieces of information that almost slipped through the cracks.
Working with the Reporter I’ve had the pleasure of tracking University of New Mexico’s graduate students’ effort to unionize, investigating small business owners whose questionable practices left tens of contributors and advertisers in the dark and holding city hall accountable for promises made to Santa Fe—and that’s all just in the last month.
Our independence, perhaps the single-most important characteristic of our newsroom, is powered by our readers. We can’t rely on grants from outside organizations to fuel our journalism, instead we need you and your support.
Without it, how can we continue holding authority to account? How can we continue asking the begging questions that need answering?
Like, how has the state addressed educational inequalities documented in the 2018 Yazzie/Martinez case? Or, how did Santa Fe Public Schools spend the millions of dollars awarded to the districts by the federal government?
The thanks and criticism that comes our way makes this work all the more satisfying to know that our readers engage with our work and it resonates with them. Please help us continue doing the work we love for our community by considering becoming a Friend of the Reporter.
Santa Fe Reporter
This letter from William Melhado is part of a series published this year about Friends of the Reporter, a new model for supporting our journalism mission. Visit sfreporter.com/friends, to make a one-time or recurring donation or via check at PO Box 4910, Santa Fe, NM 87502. Our website and weekly print edition each Wednesday remain free to all readers.