Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A proposal to overhaul New Mexico's social studies standards has stirred debate over how race should be taught, with thousands of parents and teachers weighing in on changes that would dramatically increase instruction related to racial and social identity beginning in kindergarten. New Mexico officials say they hope their standards can be a model for social studies teaching that is culturally responsive as student populations grow increasingly diverse and states around the country look to update course offerings.
- TEACHER SHORTAGE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is asking National Guard troops and state bureaucrats to volunteer to serve as substitute teachers as preschools and K-12 public schools struggle to keep classrooms open amid surging COVID-19 infections. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday announced an unprecedented effort to reopen classrooms in the capital city of Santa Fe and shore up staffing across the state. Her administration says school districts and preschools are seeking at least 800 substitute teachers and day care workers for shifts ranging from one classroom period to the entire day. School districts will decide whether military personnel appear in uniform or casual dress.
- SMITHSONIAN-AMERICAN INDIAN MUSEUM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Indigenous New Mexico woman has been named to lead the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. Cynthia Chavez Lamar will be the first Native American woman to serve as the museum's director when she takes over Feb. 14. She's currently the acting associate director for collections and operations. Chavez Lamar is an enrolled member at San Felipe Pueblo and an accomplished curator, author and scholar whose research has focused on Southwest Native art. The museum's collection includes more than 1 million objects and photographs and more than 500,000 digitized images, films and other media documenting Native American communities, events and organizations.
- SLAIN SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — An Air Force airman convicted of kidnapping and killing a Mennonite woman was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison. Mark Gooch was convicted of kidnapping Sasha Krause from northwestern New Mexico, fatally shooting her and leaving her body in a forest clearing outside Flagstaff, Arizona. The 22-year-old was sentenced almost exactly two years from the day Krause went missing. The two didn't know each other but both grew up in Mennonite communities — Krause in Texas and Gooch in Wisconsin. Krause joined the church, but Gooch rejected the faith.
- THUNDERBIRDS-TRAINING SITES
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) — The Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force's aerial demonstration squadron, have begun a monthlong training trip to New Mexico and Arizona in preparation for their 2022 show season. The unit based at Nellis Air Force Base in metro Las Vegas arrived last week at the New Mexico Spaceport near Truth or Consequences for two weeks of training and will then shift to Fort Huachuca, an Army base in Sierra Vista, Arizona, for the trip's second training leg. The training is not open to the public. The team will next train with the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels at Naval Air Facility El Centro in California.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is sending free COVID-19 home tests to low-income and underserved neighborhoods. The state Health Department announced this week that more than 400,000 tests have been secured so far. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's goal is to procure 1 million rapid tests every two weeks to ensure residents have access to tests. A nationwide shortage of testing kits has put school districts in a bind as they look to meet state requirements to keep students and staff in the classroom amid high case counts. The Santa Fe school district noted that it cannot meet the testing mandate if the state cannot provide tests.
- EDUCATION CYBER ATTACK
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque Public Schools officials have confirmed the nature of a cyber attack that forced the district to cancel classes for two days, affecting 75,000 students. Superintendent Scott Elder says that ransomware extortion was the issue that shut the school out of its student information system. He says that the district has found a workaround that allowed schools to resume classes on Tuesday. He says that student information, while compromised, isn't at risk. Many details of the attack are being withheld citing an ongoing investigation into the hackers. When asked if a ransom has been paid, Elder said that would be a "public process."
- LEGISLATURE CONVENES-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico legislators are preparing to tap into an unprecedented windfall of state income to shore up resources for public education, policing, health care and more in a 30-day legislative session. The session started Tuesday amid a resurgent coronavirus that has prompted nearby school closures in Santa Fe. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is calling on the Legislature to support new investments in teacher salaries, tuition-free college, the expansion of police forces and care for aging military veterans — while slashing taxes on sales and Social Security benefits. Republicans who have consistently supported tax cuts and cracking down on crime noted that the Democratic governor is campaigning for reelection to a second term.