In Memoriam: Rob Dean 1954-2020
January 13, 2020
Rob Dean was an ardent journalist and a gentleman, in a business that doesn’t always favor gentlemen. His job title at Searchlight New Mexico was executive director, but in truth he was our captain.
When he died suddenly on Jan. 5, our world shifted.
Rob was a big bear of a man who radiated instant warmth, putting people at ease and making them feel recognized. To use an old-fashioned Yiddish phrase, he was haimish: unpretentious, homey, welcoming. He genuinely cared about other people and they knew it; he was the guy you actually hoped to run into at the water cooler. Me, I was the lucky one who got to work at his side.
Rob was, and I speak for all of us (including myself, his peer in terms of age) a father figure, someone whose judgment was routinely solicited and whose praise was dearly treasured. We unconsciously sought his approval, hoping to elicit one of his “well done” notes. Those notes were keepers. They could be flowery in an old-fashioned way, but one never doubted their sincerity.
Recent stories from Searchlight
January 14, 2020 | By Stephanie May Joyce
In Chaparral, one of dozens of 'colonias' in southern New Mexico, undocumented residents live in the shadows out of fear of being detained. An ICE detention facility on the edge of town keeps that fear top of mind.
January 8, 2020 | By Ike Swetlitz
Governor Lujan Grisham shared her dismay over restraint and seclusion practices in New Mexico schools, in a Q&A session with reporter Ike Swetlitz. Searchlight spoke to the Governor about her priorities moving into a new year and a new legislative session.
December 31, 2019 | By Sara Solovitch, Images by Don J. Usner
Executive Director Sara Solovitch and Photographer Don Usner sat down to talk about the best photos from Searchlight New Mexico. The images selected best captured the work that we do. Here's what they chose.
December 17, 2019 | By Nick Pachelli
Eva was among the thousands of human trafficking victims targeted and exploited in the U.S. every year, of whom only 10 percent or so are ever identified. In New Mexico, only 160 cases have been opened since 2016, and while Native Americans make up about 11 percent of the state’s population, they account for nearly a quarter of trafficking victims.
December 10, 2019 | By Ed Williams
Ryan Stewart, a 39-year-old Harvard graduate with a background in education reform who previously worked with school districts in Philadelphia and Palo Alto is the "man for the moment" to lead the Public Education Department of New Mexico.
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December 3, 2019 | By Ike Swetlitz
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's campaign promise of transforming early childhood education in New Mexico is taking shape. After a nationwide search, Gov. Lujan Grisham nominated Elizabeth Groginsky as secretary-designate for the newly-formed Early Childhood Education and care Department.
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November 19, 2019 | By William deBuys and Don J. Usner
November 13, 2019 | By April Reese
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OCTOBER 22, 2019 | By Lauren Villagran and Stefanie Dodt
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OCTOBER 15, 2019 | By Ike Swetlitz
Jamari Nelson's mother pulled him out of his first-grade class at a public school in Albuquerque after he was screened in a "threat-assessment." Nelson, who is diagnosed with autism, is one of many children in special education swept up into a system originally intended to identify those who might commit mass-violence.
OCTOBER 8, 2019 | By Ed Williams
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OCTOBER 1, 2019 | By Christian Marquez
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SEPTEMBER 24, 2019 | By Ike Swetlitz
About three dozen New Mexicans are currently incarcerated for 30 years or more for crimes they committed as minors. However, a growing body of science argues that young brains are not fully developed — and, by implication, that children should be held to a different standard than adults.
SEPTEMBER 18, 2019 | By April Reese
SEPTEMBER 4, 2019 | By Sara Solovitch and Anthony Jackson
Leaders in education share their perspectives
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AUGUST 27, 2019 | By April Reese
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AUGUST 20, 2019 | By Nick Pachelli
The problem of teen suicide
In 2017, Aurra Gardner was among 46 New Mexican youths between 10 and 19 who ended their own lives, and one of 16 who did so with a firearm. New Mexico has the fifth highest youth suicide rate in the country — approximately 16 per 100,000 residents, double the national average.
AUGUST 13, 2019 | By Maria Garcia
There’s a phrase in Spanish: “tener educación antes de todo” which roughly translates to “being educated above all things.” The saying refers not to formal schooling but to a strict adherence to politeness, to keeping harmony, to shunning rudeness, and to opening your home. That’s the social ethos that guides the city.
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Two years ago, the county jail in this small town shut its doors because it didn’t have enough inmates to lock up. Hundreds of jobs evaporated, and the town lost a million dollars in tax revenue and other payments. Then in May, Torrance County landed a contract with the federal government to re-open the jail - mostly to house detained migrants.
JUNE 11, 2019 | By Ed Williams
In New Mexico, reports of child abuse or neglect are routinely referred to law enforcement, regardless of whether CYFD believes the allegation to be true or false.
With no system in place to track and prosecute malicious calls, those who make such reports rarely face any consequence. But their action comes with a price.
JUNE 6, 2019 | By Lauren Villagran
In tough enforcement climate, immigrant victims of crime in New Mexico shy away from a visa that could protect them. Meanwhile the wait list for the "U visa" has skyrocketed to over 100,000 pending cases.
Over the past seven years, hundreds of wells have risen amid the small houses and hogans scattered across this remote piñon-and-juniper-flecked stretch of high desert and pastel badlands a few miles northeast of Chaco Culture National Historical Park — and reports of health ailments have risen with them.
MAY 7, 2019 | By Ed Williams
With the right support, Sebastian might have been on his way to a career as an electrician or even an engineer. Instead, he became another special needs student swept up in the school-to-prison pipeline. Cases like these aren’t supposed to happen.
APRIL 24, 2019 | By Alisa Valdes
Of the 136 seniors who entered Socorro High in 2015, only 86 are left. The lives of these students are, if anything, the norm, according to principal Mario Zuniga. He says that every one of the 437 students at Socorro High has suffered some form of abuse or neglect. "I’ve worked in a lot of schools, but I’ve never worked anywhere like this."
APRIL 16, 2019 | By Ed Williams
The mountain-rimmed village of Questa, just south of the Colorado border, is home to one of the worst performing districts in the state, its schools earning multiple F’s from the Public Education Department.
APRIL 2, 2019 | By Amy Linn and Alysa Landry
Nearly everyone in the Sanostee Chapter has a story about Indian Service Route 5010, a seven-mile corridor that connects as many as 2,500 residents to the outside world — or denies them access altogether.
MARCH 26, 2019 | By Lauren Villagran
From the outset, local residents had questioned Cyrq’s assertion that it could pump geothermal water from thousands of feet down and reinject it at similar depths without tainting the shallow, freshwater aquifer. Like many places in New Mexico, the health of the local farm and ranch economy is rooted to the water. So are the lives of the scattered people who live in the Animas Basin.
FEBRUARY 19, 2019 | By Amy Linn
Groundwater contamination devastates a New Mexico dairy – and threatens public health.
Toxins, collectively known as PFAS, have caused rampant pollution on military installations, something the Department of Defense has known about for decades but routinely failed to disclose. Now the state’s dairy industry is ground zero in an unprecedented crisis. For the first time ever, PFAS is threatening the U.S. food supply.
MAY 5, 2018 | By Ed Williams
Treatment foster care is meant to be a specialized program for youth with especially high behavioral health or emotional needs. But as rising numbers of children flood the foster system advocates and attorneys say youth are cycling in and out of treatment foster care at much higher rates than the companies are equipped to handle.