By Bill Knief
NEW ENERGY ON THE SCHOOL BOARD
Stella Gallegos is from Arroyo Seco, and she now lives in El Salto. She is a graduate of Taos High School. She recently won a seat on the Taos area School Board.
I heard that she was also a graduate of UNM-Taos, so I asked her if she had gone to college right out of high school. She laughed.
“Oh, no,” she said. “I think it took me nearly ten years to start attending Northern. Back then we only had Northern. My son was in second or third grade and I started taking classes one or two at a time, and it took a long time to get my Associate’s Degree in Human Services. In ’93 I was ready to graduate but I had just one class I still had to take, and I was able to take it here at UNM-Taos, because they had just arrived. Then I was able to transfer that credit over to Northern, and I was able to graduate.
“I have always been deeply involved with my son’s schooling—he has a physical disability—and that kept me on the go. He was very involved in extracurricular activities; the chess team, going to basketball games, so I was on the go all the time. But I was able to get my Bachelor’s Degree in University Studies at UNM-Taos.
“Some students think that higher education is just for other people, not them. That’s not true. I could have been one of those people who said no, that’s not for me. I’ll tell you what, it wasn’t that easy for me, having to start way later. And to tell you the truth, in junior high I was serious about my studies, but once you get to high school…it’s tough.
“But by the time I went back to school I told my son I’m going to finish. There were times I wouldn’t sleep at night, but I did it.
“We’ve got to find ways to help kids stay motivated. We’re living in a time so different from when I went to school. Students need a lot of support from their teachers, the administration, and we need to listen to them and work with them. Things have changed so much in one generation. We need to expand broadband technology, and develop skills for those who feel that college is not right for them. I was one of those students that liked to ditch quite a bit, and I learned how to do it quite well,” she laughed.
“Extra curricular activities are a way to give students a sense of self esteem. Everyone needs that, and it saddened me to find out that stipends were being taken away from teachers. I know we’re facing shortfalls, but I don’t think we should cut from the students or the teachers. If we have to cut it shouldn’t be from the bottom. It has to be from above. A lot of people don’t want to hear that. A lot of people want change but a lot of people have fear, also. It’s not going to be an easy job; we’re not going to be able to make everybody happy. But we all have to stick together: the board, the administration, teachers, students, community if we are going to get through these hardships.”
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the economic stimulus package, is a boat anchor of a book. Think three ring binder three inches thick. It’s heavy and hard to haul around, and the writing style can and will induce short term memory loss, nervous tics and bouts of narcolepsy.
But consider this: at face value, each one of its 647 pages represents well over a billion dollars.
That alone makes it interesting reading; it puts a certain perspective on the size of our economic troubles, and what it’s going to take to fix them. You would do well to have a look at it, whether simply out of morbid curiosity or because the opportunities in those pages could very well have a profound impact on our lives and livelihoods right here at home in the months and years to come.
That’s why we have a copy on reserve at the UNM-Taos Library. And because we are a public library funded by public money (remember the general obligation bond for libraries last November?) you don’t have to be a UNM-Taos student or member of the faculty to use the library; all you have to do is walk in and ask to see H. R. 1, the stimulus package. The library is behind the administration building on Civic Plaza Drive.
The money will be allocated state by state, so that New Mexico municipalities, school districts and other interested parties must contact state and local representatives to have input in the disbursement. In the case of UNM-Taos, we report to the Department of Higher Education. Of utmost interest to the college, of course, are the sections on investing in education for the 21st century and helping workers retrain who have lost their jobs, but also sections on green construction and solar and wind technology, modernizing infrastructure and improving public transportation.
You can also get a great deal of information from their website, recovery.gov, but you should still thumb through the actual document. It’s like going to see a moon rock: uninteresting until you find out where it came from and how much it cost.