Those bloomin’ abstentions

It’s time for a clearance sale. All transactions are final, and there are to be no refunds or exchanges on the information. However, any comments you may wish to submit are entirely welcome.

• • •

Those bloomin’ abstentions: Only recently, as the Luna Community College Board of Trustees was taking a vote on long-time President Pete Campos’ future, two members abstained. Members of every policy-making board are elected to represent the public. Their job is to vote, not to abstain.

Abstentions have often been cast when a yea or nay vote might affect the members themselves, possibly to avoid a conflict of interest, or at least the appearance of such. But let’s not be abstaining through the length of the term.

Vote! The public expects it.

• • •

OK, I’m on my soapbox again, but it’s been months since I have mentioned those expensive electronic message boards near several Las Vegas schools. Yes, I’ve lamented that the messages often are days old and that the boards contain egregious errors, like “scooer” for “soccer” and “schol” for “school” or the gratuitous apostrophe that attaches itself to so many plural’s. (Like this.)

Once I mentioned Sierra Vista’s lack of proofreading on one of its messages, and the very next day the sign went off. And since then, other such signs have gone blank.

Coincidence? I think not.

• • •

Highlands students must be ancient, some of them well over 100 years old.

Let me explain: Each morning KFUN runs a Highlands commercial that begins with something like “Founded in 1893 as a teachers’ college . . . The next phrase fails to complete the thought. It continues (and I’m paraphrasing now), “Today, Highlands students excel in . . .”

So we have a college that was founded in the 1800s and students today who are extremely bright. But syntactically, the year of the founding refers to the students, not the college. My junior high school teacher at Immaculate Conception, Sister Mary Danglando Modifiadora, would have cringed.

• • •

Notice there have been radio spots seeking support for Gov. Susana Martinez’s quest to end “social promotion.” Even the term “social promotion” smacks of granting privileges to spoiled, undeserving kids whose parents apparently have clout. In this context, the governor wishes to retain third-graders who can’t read at third-grade level.

Fair enough! Many people can argue convincingly that the ability to read at grade level by then is crucial to pupils’ success.

But the prospect of retention — presumably for the entire year following — looms menacingly. In the elementary grades, when we’d mess up, there was a thing called summer school, an intensive program, taught during the Dog Days, aimed at bringing children up to speed. That might work for today’s third-graders who simply can’t cut it. Yet, my concern is that proponents of retaining students for a year offer precious little regarding ways to fix the problem.

To offer another year of third grade, likely with the same curriculum, isn’t bound to remediate anything. How will an extra year of being fed the same lessons, possibly with the same teacher, catapult the slow learners into academic whizzes?

The governor-endorsed radio spots cite statistics germane to the increased probability that socially promoted students will eventually quit school.

Hmmm. Wonder what the data show regarding kids who repeat third grade.

• • •

A recent column mentioned the temerity of some Denver Bronco boosters who posited the idea of giving sacks of Colorado green chile to the Seattle Seahawks, should the northwestern team win the Super Bowl. Well, the idea brought heat from New Mexicans, whose red chile from Chimayo and green chile from Hatch, are in a league of their own.

Colorado can’t claim anything like our native products — unless they smuggle it across our northern border. In that column, I mentioned that our youngest son, Benjie, enjoyed roasting New Mexico green chile for customers during his summer employment at Lowe’s on Seventh. He liked it because the effect the roasting had on customers’ olfactory systems made them generous tippers.

Meanwhile, Alma Gregory, of nearby Cañoncito, thought she might have photographed my son roasting the green chile at Lowe’s. She mailed me a photo card showing a young man doing the honors outside the store.

Was it my son? Alma wondered. Unfortunately, Ben’s tenure at Lowe’s was some 15 years ago. She took the photo about a year ago and mailed some 60 copies to friends all over.

Wrong young man. But it’s still great that Alma thought she might have photographed Ben.

And one look at the green chile in the photo she sent me obviously energized my salivaries again.

• • •

Ah, the power of the judiciary. Just recently, a New Mexico judge, Nan G. Nash, said terminally ill persons may be allowed to die with dignity.

A state court in New Mexico said Monday that terminally ill residents have a constitutional right to obtain “aid in dying,” a ruling that could make New Mexico the fifth state to allow doctors to prescribe fatal drug doses that suffering patients can use to end their lives.

Much of the reportage referred to giving immunity to doctors who might provide fatal drug prescriptions to a patient. Whether such action will become law in New Mexico, based on a single case, is iffy.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and an advocacy group called Compassion & Choices, argued in court that competent terminally ill patients who wish to hasten death should be assisted rather than hindered.

Why suffer needlessly when there’s little to no hope for recovery?

Were I ever in that situation, I believe I’d opt for an assisted death.

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