Swickard: The future of schools and students

© 2012 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Many people hate working. They go to work grudgingly each day and watch the clock to be able to go home. It is sad. They have jobs which they can do but do not like in the least. In our society we almost expect that people will not like their jobs and that the real interesting things will be at home or play.
Now there are others, myself included, who have jobs which we like. Monday does not depress me in the least; rather, I look forward to walking into work. While doing my job is not swell all of the time (like pulling myself out of bed at four a.m.) but overall I like what I do. And, it would seem that I am suited for my job.
I started writing newspaper columns in the 1970s and continue to this day but the move into radio talk shows which I do three hours a day; five days a week was somewhat a surprise. There was no one in my past who anticipated me becoming a radio talk show host. Well, my parents did call me “Little Filibuster” at times because of my conversational ability. But public school beat any conversation out of me quickly. So I was like all other kids in the 1950s going to school.
Sputnik was launched by the Soviets while I was in Second Grade. This focused the schools on the need to prepare me for competing with the Soviets (who no longer exist) and every day in school they had designs on me getting a college degree. And I did. But the degree, the piece of paper, has no bearing on my career in talk.
The college degree really was a place for me to mature each time I went to school. Early on and throughout my life I have been a self educator. Public school never had my attention. By high school the worn out old textbooks were rarely opened but I reveled in the thousands of books I had in my bedroom. I could get books at Second Hand Stores for a nickel and did.
Fast forward to our educational system today: we now see schools where most students pump data and ideas into their heads daily from their social websites and from the media. They have several data devices and attend to them even at wrong times like when they are driving. Then they go sit in class.
While I am painting with a large brush here, the intense data world many students live in bears little resemblance to the factory model of education in schools where it is not the individual interests that drive the moment; it is the group learn method of teaching done in schools. Individually each student follows their interest on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter - exactly to their interest. They have data mining and harvest techniques that are robust.
It asks the question: are the schools really preparing students for what the next decades will bring? That is a daunting task to anticipate the needs of a workforce decades in advance. Of course the next workers must be literate and numerate. They must be able to communicate and to do math. What else? Therein lies the rub.
The public schools are inculcating the culture of America on students while the same students are deeply immersed in their own culture out of school. The out of school curriculum does not resemble that in school. Which do they need for the future?
Thirty years from now workers will still have to communicate and do math. But what will be the things that allow students to get jobs? Perhaps it will be attitudes and a lot of stuff not learned in school, rather, learned at home. What will our future parents teach our future students about getting up and doing a job? It may be the most important things those students learn or not learn, unfortunately.
What students needed when I was growing up, what they need now and what they will need in the future is the ability to self-teach themselves what they, themselves, want and need to learn. User on demand self-education is still the future of education.

NM Chile Conference coming in February

The 2013 New Mexico Chile Conference is set to take place Feb. 4 and 5 at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces.

The annual conference is hosted by New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute and features practical solutions for chile growers, processors and producers.

Conference speakers will also address genomics, including information about unraveling the chile pepper genome, the potentials of biotechnology, fungicides, curly top virus, food bio-security, direct marketing, social media and laws governing food safety and labeling.


Bank error delays unemployment benefits

A banking error led to problems with thousands of New Mexicans receiving their unemployment benefits this week, according to Gov. Susana Martinez. 

For the past two days, 150,000 calls have poured into the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions because money was missing from the accounts of unemployed New Mexicans.

 Martinez said there was a glitch with the bank. The bank had changed an account number and did not advise the other business that they do where the actual receipt of the money goes into the debit cards.


Roswell police post mug shots on Facebook

Roswell police are using Facebook to post photos of all those arrested each day.

Roswell Deputy Chief Brad McFadin said Wednesday that the department is posting the daily mug shots as a deterrent and to let the public know that Roswell officers are busy.

He says Roswell police have long used social media as a tool for investigations but lately have been posting daily mug shots of arrestees.

Other law enforcement agencies in New Mexico also use social media to distribute images of wanted suspects. 

 McFadin says the department has to monitor the Facebook page since some users post "inappropriate comments" under arrestees' photos. He says police also post photos of wanted suspects and "persons of interests" linked to pending investigations.


State court will intercept tax refunds

Officials with New Mexico's magistrate court system are warning defendants who have failed to pay court-ordered fines and fees that their tax refunds will be intercepted. 

The courts have asked the state Taxation and Revenue Department to intercept the refunds of more than 10,000 defendants who failed to pay their fines and fees during the past year.

The uncollected debts total more than $3 million. 

Officials say defendants can avoid having their income tax refunds intercepted by paying their judgment in full.


Legislative committee recommends salary increase for state workers

State workers would receive a 1 percent salary increase next year — their first raise since 2008 — and state police officers would get a 3 percent pay hike under a legislative committee's budget recommendations.

The Legislative Finance Committee released budget proposals Wednesday for spending about $5.9 billion on public education and government programs in the 2014 fiscal year starting July 1. That's an increase of about 4 percent or $232 million. 

The panel's recommendations serve as a foundation for budget decisions during the legislative session that starts next week. The salary increases would cost about $32 million.


Gov. expands Medicaid program

Gov. Martinez
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez says New Mexico will follow provisions of a federal health care law to expand the state's Medicaid program to potentially provide medical services to 170,000 low-income adults. 

New Mexico will join at least 15 other states and the District of Columbia in broadening eligibility for the health care program under terms of a health care overhaul championed by President Barack Obama. 

Martinez made the announcement Wednesday during a speech in Albuquerque. 

The expansion in 2014 will make adults eligible with incomes of about $26,000 for a family of three or $15,400 for an individual.