Recent stories from Searchlight
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.
Searchlight spoke with Groginsky to get acquainted.
November 19, 2019 | By William deBuys and Don J. Usner
November 13, 2019 | By April Reese
Stephanie Baker recently reunited with her three sons after serving 3 years in prison. Now that she is out, she is determined to create a new life and rebuild her relationships with her children -- but it won’t be easy.
OCTOBER 22, 2019 | By Lauren Villagran and Stefanie Dodt
Approximately 10,000 Mexicans cross the border each week to sell blood plasma in the U.S. Mexican donors can make more money crossing the border to sell their plasma, than working at a full-time assembly plant job, but the easy money comes with a physical toll.
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
Albuquerque Public Schools District claims that the behavior management practices of restraint and seclusion do not occur in its classrooms, according to reports to the U.S. Dept. of Education. Data collected by Searchlight said otherwise.
OCTOBER 1, 2019 | By Christian Marquez
Hopewell Mann is the poorest neighborhood in Santa Fe, but for Manuel Sandoval it is home. As housing costs increase and incomes fall, some fear that the neighborhood changes could push out longtime residents like him.
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
For the start of the school year, Searchlight New Mexico is publishing interviews with four leading education activists. The conversations span the gamut from language immersion to teacher shortages, child trauma and what it takes to finally reform New Mexico’s schools. Here's what they said.
AUGUST 27, 2019 | By April Reese
Multiple studies support the notion that exposure to nature can be beneficial for the mental and physical well being of youth. The Outdoor Equity Fund - first of its kind in the nation - aims to introduce troubled New Mexico youth to the great outdoors by funding outings through programs like Families and Youth Incorporated.
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.
As the oil wells multiplied, the influx of heavy vehicles strained existing infrastructure and exacerbated risk for those who live along the route. Locals have a new name for this section of US 285: Death Highway. In 2018, there were 49 crashes (20 involving a heavy truck), up from 31 crashes (15 truck-related) the year before.
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.