In a recent letter to the editor, Ms. Marvel Harrison mischaracterized my comments concerning the First Born Program. She was not present at the time, giving rise to the distortion.
My comments were in response to statements made by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard during the League of Women Voters forum. She stated that her “dream legislation” would be to fund a Universal Home Visit program.
Rep. Garcia Richard stated, “No matter who you are, no matter your education background, no matter what your economic status is, you have a visitor come in when you have your first child. And that really has been shown to make a difference when you have that first child.”
After comparing it to pre-K programs she goes on to say, “Now we’re taking a step back further to when you have that first child to really get you on the path to success.”
Most importantly, I strongly believe it does matter who you are and whether you want such a visit.
Let me be perfectly clear. I support the First Born program. It is a private/public program that offers free assistance to families who have just had their first child. It is funded by 14 private foundations, 22 local community groups, and state government. The program offers varying levels of assistance depending on what a family requests and needs. It is truly a grassroots, community based effort.
However, in contrast to this successful program, Rep. Garcia Richard espouses one more “we know what is best for you” government program.
Given that our educational system all too often fails to prepare students for a global economy and state agencies entrusted with ensuring child well-being often fail at this task, adding another state funded program to the mix will not reverse this trend.
This is just one more top-down approach used for decades in New Mexico and why our state is on the wrong end of just about every list.
Before we look to more government programs, we must first fix some of our current problems. There are numerous areas demanding attention. As a state, our educational spending per student is about mid pack when compared to other states. But, our classroom results lag behind the rest of the country.
The difference between us is simple. I believe the people who live in New Mexico need to get the state on the path to success and not the other way around.