Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Lt. Gov. John Sanchez speaks on education, Cannon

New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez was in Clovis on Thursday, part of a campaign swing through the state.

Sanchez sat down with the Clovis News Journal to answer a few questions:

Why are you in eastern New Mexico?

For any statewide candidate, it would be a mistake not to visit every county, especially the east side.

Curry County and Roosevelt, the entire eastern part of the state, is a big part of our state’s economy. Cannon Air Force Base, it’s footprint here in eastern New Mexico is a big part so we’re happy and proud to be here again.

You’re big on education. We’ve had an issue in Clovis. The schools lost about half their teachers and the superintendent has placed at least part of the blame on the new teacher evaluations. Your response?

We understand that anytime you try to change something as important as education in New Mexico...there’s always going to be some type of resistance.

The governor’s position as far as education reform, understanding that the status quo was not and is not acceptable... I think there’s going to be challenges along the way. There’s going to be some bumps on the road.

Most New Mexicans as I travel around the state, parents are coming to me saying, look we’ve got to do something to change education in our state. We don’t know exactly what it is but we’re glad that the governor is doing some specific things.

They support the idea that she’s trying to end social promotion. The idea of kids not being able to read by the time they enter fourth grade is a big concern. Because they can see it, I think from a generational perspective. We’re already starting to see another generation of kids who are not being able to read effectively. If you can’t read, you can’t learn properly.

On the issue of mandatory state testing..aren’t we just actually teaching our kids how to pass tests?

No, I don’t think so. I think that it’s a way to measure. There has to be some way for us to measure results in the classroom.

Look, I think the opportunities exist for those results to come. We’re starting to see some of those...I think the A through F (grading) system for schools is important.

In order for us to solve a problem, we have to admit to ourselves there is a problem. We have to have some baseline of where we are as a state. In this case with education, how do we measure it? We’ll continue to work forward. I think it’s a big part of her (Gov. Susana Martinez’s) reform that is starting to have results.

Graduation rates, they’re going up. They’re still not where they need to be but you see the trajectory. We’re starting to close the achievement gap, especially among Hispanic students. Hispanic students in New Mexico lead the nation in their test results on advanced placement courses. These are good things.

Another important issue here is water...the lack of it projected for the future...what can we look for from you and the governor in terms of help?

The Ute Pipeline Project is critical to the future of the entire eastern part of the state. But in particular, clearly, I think Curry and Roosevelt counties are at the epicenter of water issues in our state.

The governor is supportive of it (Ute). Obviously we’re going to continue to fight for those federal funding dollars that are going to be needed to come into place. It’s not going to happen overnight.

What can we expect in terms of support for Cannon Air Force Base?

We are working overtime to secure the mission for Cannon.

Again, several years ago around BRAC, you saw the state and the community rally behind Cannon. Today we see Cannon’s future as very bright. I work as lieutenant governor very closely with our Congressional delegation.

As a matter of fact, I visit the Pentagon at least two or three times a year on behalf of New Mexico and it’s Air Force bases. We talk and we hear good, positive things coming from the Department of Defense and the Air Force...particularly about Cannon’s future.

— Compiled by Projects Editor Robin Fornoff