The Chamber’s 2020-2021 class of Leadership Albuquerque is in full swing! The cohort has now completed two program days: one focusing on the state of public education in New Mexico and education reform efforts, and one on crime and public safety.
One highlight of the education program day on November 16 was the Education Reform BIG Signature Event, which featured guest speakers Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales and Elizabeth Groginsky, the state’s first secretary of the newly created Early Childhood Education and Care Department.
Morales described his own journey as an educator and the need for teachers to meet students where they are, as students and as people. He described the damage the pandemic has done to our education system that already lags behind, but also expressed his commitment to high standards – kids will reach them, he said.
Groginsky reflected on the state’s long road to becoming one of the few states with a cabinet-level early childhood state agency, and what lies ahead. “Every system is perfectly created to get the results that it gets,” Groginsky observed, acknowledging that New Mexico had a long way to go in preparing its youngest children for success in the K-12 system. She shared her commitment to improving coordination and quality of 0-5 programming through data.
Other guests who talked with our class included Matt Pahl, Executive Director of Public Charter Schools of New Mexico, to introduce the group to charter schools and their contributions to quality school choice; and Amanda Aragon, Executive Director of New Mexico Kids Can, to discuss the broader education reform effort, with its emphasis on high standards for all kids. Deputy Director of the Legislative Finance Committee Charles Sallee offered an overview of the state’s public education funding formula and the framework the committee uses to evaluate programs, while Albuquerque Public Schools Interim Superintendent Scott Elder shared the district perspective. JoAnn Mitchell, principal and founder of MAS Charter Schools, rounded out the day with a presentation on the schools’ college prep-focused high school program that leads to some of the strongest student performance in the state and proves demography is not destiny.
You can watch the full virtual event here.
The public safety program day gave Leadership Albuquerque participants an equally eye-opening look into what drives record-breaking and sustained crime in the region, and what leaders in law enforcement and the justice system are doing about it.
The Chamber’s Scott Darnell kicked off the day with some important background information on recent developments in the criminal justice system. APD Interim Police Chief Harold Medina drilled down into the tactics and technology the department uses to improve public safety; US Attorney John C. Anderson gave a statewide – and even international – perspective on trends in crime that threaten our city and our country, as well as the critical partnerships in government and law enforcement that could turn the tide.
Later, the group heard from Chief Public Defender Ben Baur on the importance of fair trials and protections for the accused, heads of support programs designed to keep people from falling back into the justice system, and the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts Artie Pepin on the recent changes to pre-trial detention rules. Mike Gallagher of the Albuquerque Journal closed with some reflections on his career of reporting on crime in Albuquerque.
The day’s main event was the Public Safety BIG Signature Event featuring Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez as guest speaker – his CrimeSTAT briefing is described in more detail above.
We’re looking forward to our next program day in January when we’ll hear from yet another outstanding group of leaders, this time on the important topic of energy and water in the state.