- HUMAN TRAFFICKING-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A jury has found a New Mexico father guilty after he forced his children to panhandle and use the money to buy drugs.James Stewart Sr. was convicted of three counts of human trafficking in state District Court Wednesday.The 39-year-old man said in his trial that he doesn't do drugs and denied the charges.Authorities say all three of Stewart's children testified against their father.Stewart's attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.Stewart faces up to 51 years in prison.Authorities say Stewart and his wife Teri Sanchez remain in custody in multiple other cases including charges of sex trafficking their then 7-year-old daughter.Authorities say that case is on appeal following a mistrial.
- NATION'S REPORT CARD-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's fourth-grade and eighth-grade students' test scores in math and reading on the latest Nation's Report Card remain well below the national average.Results released Wednesday on the National Assessment of Educational Progress show fourth-graders in the state scored 12 points below the national average on math and 11 points below the national average score in reading.The report says about 29% of the state's fourth-graders are proficient both in math, and only 24% in reading. About 21% of eighth-graders proficient in math.Nationwide, a little more than a third of eighth-graders are proficient in reading and math. About a third of fourth-graders are proficient in reading, while more than 40% of fourth-graders are proficient in math.The nationwide test is given to a sampling of students in those grades every two years.
- AIR FORCE CRASH-NEW MEXICO
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AP) — The Air Force says a pilot successfully ejected from an F-16 before the fighter crashed in southern New Mexico during a training flight.Holloman Air Force Base officials say the F-16 assigned to the 49th Wing at the base crashed Tuesday night about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southeast of the base.Officials said in a statement that the pilot was taken to a hospital for treatment, but it did not provide information on any injuries to the pilot, whose identity was not released.The statement said a board of officers will investigate the crash and that its cause wasn't determined immediately.
- TEACHER SHORTAGE-NEW MEXICO
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Teacher vacancies in New Mexico have dropped, but school districts are still struggling to fill open positions.KVIA-TV reports a 2019 New Mexico Educator Vacancy study recently found that teacher vacancies have declined around 13%. However, the report also found that school districts in Las Cruces, Gadsden, Deming and Hatch Valley saw a 59% jump in vacancies.The report was compiled the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation & Policy Center at New Mexico State University. Researchers collected data from public schools throughout the state.The state currently has a total of 1,054 educator vacancies, including the 644 teacher vacancies. Last year's report found 1,173 total educator vacancies.
- SKATE PARK SHOOTING
GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors say they intend to try a 15-year-old linked to a New Mexico skate park shooting as an adult.The Gallup Independent reports the McKinley County District Attorney's Office gave notice this week it will seek an adult sentence for the teen suspected of firing a gun during the Oct. 14 Gallup Skate Park shootings.Police say the shooting left three people with non-life threatening injuries.The 15-year-old suspect is facing charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and unlawful possession of a handgun.Police say 18-year-old DeShawn Yazzie is still wanted for his alleged involvement in the shootings.
- VETERANS-AGRICULTURE TRAINING
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Groups dedicated to tribal conservation and helping veterans transition from military to civilian life are getting federal funding to provide training in agricultural practices.Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation announced the awards Wednesday.The Not Forgotten Outreach organization will receive just over $200,000 for training and the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance will get more than $224,000 for outreach programs to improve access to tribal grant assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.U.S. Sen. Tom Udall says supporting veterans when they come home from deployment is a priority that often lacks the proper financial resources.He says tribes also face significantly greater barriers to accessing federal resources, so the effort will help bridge that disparity.
- CLIMATE PROTEST-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — At least a dozen protesters voicing concerns about climate change have been cited for criminal trespassing and escorted out of the Capitol by New Mexico State Police.Environmental activists thronged the entranceway to the governor's office at the Statehouse on Wednesday afternoon. It was the latest in a series of protests by the group Youth Unified for Climate Change Crisis Action urging Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to declare a climate emergency and place a moratorium on fracking for oil.Group spokesman Josue Martinez said younger protesters left to avoid arrest as the building closed. Mostly elderly and middle-aged protesters declined to leave when instructed by police and were declared to be under arrest.They were escorted out of the building without force and given trespassing citations at the exit.
- EDUCATION LAWSUIT-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — School districts and parents are reviving litigation that accused the state of failing to provide a sound education to vulnerable children from minority communities, non-English speaking households, impoverished families and those with disabilities.Two groups of plaintiffs filed motions Wednesday to revive a dormant lawsuit more than a year after a district court judge ruled that lawmakers and state education officials failed to ensure an adequate education.The Democrat-led Legislature and first-year Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham have authorized a nearly half-billion dollar increase in annual spending on public education. They raised teacher salaries, channeled money toward at-risk students and extended academic calendars.Center on Law and Poverty attorney Gail Evans says the money missed the mark and was soaked up by salaries without a long-term plan for transformation.