Morning Word

NM Student Absenteeism Highest in the US

Scofflaws rejoice! City court schedules “safe surrender” day

Morning Word

NM student absenteeism highest in the US

Students across the country continue to miss school “at an alarming rate,” the New York Times reports, based on a chronic absenteeism data analysis released Friday by the nonprofit Attendance Works and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. And while preliminary data from the 2022 to 2023 school year shows some schools bouncing back after the COVID-19 pandemic, New Mexico’s chronic absenteeism barely budged from 40% to 39%—compared to 16% in the 2019-2020 school year, according to a presentation delivered to state lawmakers last week. Additional analysis from FutureEd of national data notes New Mexico’s chronic absenteeism rate—defined as “students missing 10 percent or more of the school year”—is the highest in the country. “Chronic absenteeism often signals that students are experiencing untreated health needs, transportation problems, mental health issues, or other significant challenges,” FutureEd writes. A report prepared by New Mexico’s Legislative Education Study Committee analyzes attendance and chronic absentee data by demographic groups and finds chronic absence rates for fiscal year 2023 are the highest for Native American students at 48.3%. A statewide attendance dashboard from the Public Education Department indicates Santa Fe Public Schools 2022-2023 chronic absentee rate is nearly 51%.

City schedules “safe surrender” day

Following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Santa Fe Municipal Court will be holding a Safe Surrender Day from 8 am to 4 pm, Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 2511 Camino Entrada. According to a news release, “community members who have forgotten to pay a traffic ticket or missed a court date will have an opportunity to clear outstanding warrants and receive favorable consideration from Judge Virginia Vigil for voluntarily coming forward.” Those who attend can request a new court date, payment plan or other options required to come into compliance with the court order. The Safe Surrender Day will be held in person, or via virtual hearings on Zoom, which can be scheduled by calling (505) 955-5070. Plenty of folks should have traffic tickets following the Santa Fe Police Department’s 34-day “Operation Fall Blitz,” which ended earlier this month. According to SFPD, during the operation, which focused on high-crash areas in the city, officers issued 472 traffic citations for violations including: speeding; seatbelt enforcement; use of cell phone without a hands free device while driving; racing; loud mufflers; and other traffic-related offenses.

Feds will monitor but not capture Asha the wolf for now

Federal wildlife managers tell the Associated Press they don’t have current plans to capture and relocate Mexican gray wolf F2754—nicknamed Asha—following her recent return to New Mexico at the beginning of the month. They do intend to keep monitoring her movements via her GPS radio collar. As environmental journalist Laura Paskus reported for SFR in January, the wolf left her pack—disbursed—last year and walked out of the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area and 500 miles to New Mexico, where Game and Fish employees tracked her via helicopter and captured her on private land not far from Angel Fire. FWS returned Asha to the wild in Arizona in June. Following her return, wildlife advocates released statements urging the government to let her be. They sent a formal letter to the US Fish and Wildlife Service and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish on Nov. 6 reiterating that request and describing Asha’s return to the state as “incredible,” noting: “We are inspired by her adventurous spirit and relieved that she’s surmounted the significant obstacles she’s already encountered. She’s a testament to the truth that wolves are individuals with their own hopes and desires.” Moreover the letter continues: “Asha is also a testament to the fact that the current 10j boundary is insufficient to meet the needs of this expanding population.”

NM unemployment rose slightly in October

New Mexico’s unemployment rate ticked slightly up in October, the Department of Workforce Solutions reported on Friday, with a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.8% versus 3.7% in September and up from 3.5% for the year prior. The national unemployment rate in October was 3.9% percent, also up from 3.8% in September and up from 3.7% in October 2022. Total nonagricultural payroll employment grew by 16,700 jobs, or 1.9%, between October 2022 and October 2023. New Mexico’s October figures place it in the middle of surrounding states—higher than Colorado’s 3.3%, but below Arizona’s 4.2%. Total nonagricultural payroll employment grew by 16,700 jobs, or 1.9%, between October 2022 and October 2023; the private sector grew by 7,800 jobs, or 1.2%, while the public sector was up 8,900 jobs, or 4.9%. The construction industry grew by 3,300 jobs, or 6.5% percent and leisure and hospitality increased by 5,300 jobs, or 5.6%. The state says additional analysis is expected Dec. 1 via a Labor Market Review.

Listen up

Exploration website Atlas Obscura’s podcast highlights “The Lightning Field” by sculptor Walter De Maria, maintained by the Dia Art Foundation and located in a remote portion of western New Mexico (Quemado in Catron County). The site, Atlas Obscura says, “is a bucket list destination for art nerds,” as well as “a testament to the extraordinary control the artist who created it was able to exert, even after death.” In this particular episode, Atlas Obscura Creative Director Chris Naka talks with Atlas Obscura co-founder and podcast host Dylan Thuras about his visit to “The Lightning Field” during a land art field trip when he was a graduate student.

Sounds like New Mexico

Music/writer and icon Patti Smith has spent time in New Mexico: In recent years, she gave a 2019 reading at the Lensic Performing Arts and performed at Ghost Ranch last year. Right now, she’s in Florida as an artist-in-residence at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in downtown Sarasota, where she recently performed and paid tribute to New Mexico icon Georgia O’Keeffe. Sarasota magazine reports Smith “plays a role in the gardens’ next…exhibition, “Yayoi Kusama: A Letter to Georgia O’Keeffe,” and acknowledged O’Keeffe’s influence during a recent performance partially honoring O’Keeffe’s Nov. 15 birthday. Smith reportedly discussed O’Keeffe’s relationship with husband/photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and how that influenced her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. “I always loved Georgia O’Keeffe,” Smith said, “and when Robert started taking photographs we wanted to try me as a model,” as O’Keeffe had been for Stieglitz. A friend of theirs who curated photography at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art allowed them, after closing, to see Stieglitz’ photos of O’Keeffe not normally viewable by the public, she said, which “had a great effect on Robert, seeing the trust and intimacy between the photographer and his subject. Meanwhile, I was trying to copy what she did with her hands.”

Sights (and more sounds) from New Mexico

Beirut frontman Zach Condon talks to American Songwriter about the band’s new album Hadsel, named after a remote Norwegian village where Condon sequestered himself for its creation. He held off releasing it in the post-COVID rush of albums and talks to American Songwriter about how his approach to songwriting grew out of his antipathy to what he experienced growing up in New Mexico: “My musical tastes and artistic interests never streamlined with the people around me in my city,” he tells the magazine. “I grew up in Santa Fe, and it’s a super hippie dippy New Age-y place. A mantra that everyone in that city has is, ‘Art is self-expression.’ It’s like they think that the entire purpose and the goal of art is just to express yourself. And I always had problems with that, to be honest, because I felt like the best music I did was when I disappear entirely, and I feel more like I’m channeling something else.”

Meanwhile, singer-guitarist Cody Waybenais from Wavelengths, a Navajo-Zuni powerpop band from Shiprock, tells The Guardian newspaper his band is “trying to inspire ordinary Native Americans that you can do more than stay at home. I feel we are reaching a point where all of us, all Indigenous people, are collectively worldwide, all directions; all tribes are finally reaching a world platform.” The Guardian reported from an open-air festival in Phoenix celebrating November’s Native American Heritage Month and highlighted numerous ways in which the “platform for Native voices is definitely expanding,” in music, the arts, film and television. One example: the Native Guitars Tour, created by Jir Anderson (Pueblo of Cochiti). “In the 60s and 70s it was hard for Natives to make a living,” Anderson tells The Guardian. “My parents were silversmiths, and I grew up right by the plaza, so I heard the thundery drums and my path became music.” As for film and television, Santa Fe International Film Festival Director Jacques Paisner—whose festival awarded Reservation Dogs creator Sterlin Harjo its top award this year—tells the newspaper “We’re seeing a lot of hot young film-makers coming out of the Santa Fe Institute for American Indian Arts and the University of New Mexico” programs, and the success of shows like Reservation Dogs and Dark Winds “is creating more and more opportunities for Indigenous people to tell their stories on the screen.”

A little snow might fall

The National Weather Service forecasts a 30% chance of snow showers today, mainly between 11am and 5 pm, with little or no accumulation expected. Otherwise, it should be partly sunny, with a high temperature near 42 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 mph.

Thanks for reading! In keeping with today’s inadvertent musical theme, The Word looks forward to listening to Joan Armatrading’s symphony when it’s released.

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