Are Higher Ed Mission Statements Mere Window Dressing in New Mexico?

(Albuquerque) Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently made headlines around the country when he argued that institutes of higher education in his state of Florida should prioritize funding for the study of science and technology in the his state’s institutes of higher education.

Said Scott, “If I’m going to take money from a citizen to put into education then I’m going to take money to create jobs…so I want the money to go to a degree where people can get jobs in this state. Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don’t think so.”

One may agree or disagree with Scott’s statement, but prioritization of limited resources is essential. In order to better understand how those resources should be allocated in higher education in New Mexico, the Rio Grande Foundation undertook an effort to survey members of the boards of regents of the state’s six public senior universities on their views of their schools’ mission statements. Unfortunately, poor returns – only 26.7% of the regents responded – seem to indicate that many of the people responsible for leading these institutes do not take their mission statements seriously.

Said Pat Leonard an adjunct fellow with the Foundation and the lead author of new Rio Grande Foundation report “Are Mission Statements Mere Window Dressing in New Mexico?,” The regents are political appointees charged with the guidance of New Mexico’s public universities. As such, we expected far more enthusiastic participation and willingness to share views on their institutes’ mission statements. Unfortunately, this was not the case.” Rio Grande Foundation president and co-author of the report noted that, “Without a clearly-stated mission, policymakers are left to judge for themselves whether New Mexico’s higher education institutions are achieving their goals or not. In times of constrained budgets, it is more important than ever to have a clear understanding of what these schools are attempting to achieve.”

The full report is available online here.

A sample survey containing the questions that were sent to each regent can be found here.

Rio Grande Foundation Shows APS NAEP Scores nothing to be “ecstatic” About

(Albuquerque) Recently, a report called the “Trial Urban District Assessment” (TUDA) was released (see charts here). The report compared student scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 21 urban school districts including Albuquerque. The Rio Grande Foundation and others have used New Mexico’s poor performance on the NAEP to argue for education reforms.

APS Superintendant Winston Brooks, upon release of the report, was quoted in the Albuquerque Journal as being “pretty ecstatic” about data showing that APS was “about average” compared to the 20 other cities in the report.[1] Brooks went on to say, in a press release on the report that, “These results are encouraging because they show that APS is doing at least as well, and in several cases better, than many of the nation’s urban school districts facing similar educational challenges.[2]

But how similar are they? According to a Rio Grande Foundation analysis of the data (using US Census numbers), the families of students in APS are wealthier than 17 of the 20 districts analyzed in the TUDA report. In some instances, districts mentioned in the report had poverty rates more than two times that of APS.[3] “Interestingly-enough,” noted Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing, “students in Miami-Dade, which of course has followed the ‘Florida Model’, brought to New Mexico by our Foundation, out-performed APS despite having higher poverty numbers.”

Gessing continued, “Poverty should not be a deciding factor in whether a child is educated or not. That is we have long argued for educational choice and reforms emphasizing accountability. Nonetheless, the worst possible conclusion to draw from the TUDA data is that administrators, parents, and legislators should be pleased because APS students are performing as well as their peers in other major cities, when in reality the students in these cities are in a state of poverty far worse than our own.”

This chart shows where APS is in terms of poverty relative to the other school districts mentioned in the report and which ones outperform APS on 4th grade reading.



[1] Hailey Heinz, Albuquerque Journal, December 8, 2011,

[2] APS Test Scores Comparable to Big Cities, December 7, 2001,

[3] US Census Bureau “Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates”:

Government Drives Up Health Care Cost

In the Journal of Nov. 28, economist Robert Samuelson claims that health care costs are “out of control.” Quite the opposite: They are totally in control – by the government.
That is a problem.

Health care refers to goods and services delivered by hospitals and providers to be consumed by patients. Costs to providers and institutions are driven more by government regulation and bureaucracy than by labor costs or MRI machines. Meanwhile, payments to providers and institutions – what Samuelson calls “costs” – are controlled by government.

"Sick & Sicker" Film Screening - Albuquerque

What's next for American Health Care?

Screening of the film "Sick and Sicker" and discussion led by Dr. Deane Waldman, author of "Uproot U.S. Healthcare"

About the event:

The Supreme Court has decided to hear the case against the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," more commonly known as "ObamaCare," which, if not overturned, will have dramatic implications for Americans' health care.

  • What will be the end result of "ObamaCare" if it is fully-implemented?
  • How will your health care be impacted?
  • What is next for the future of health care in the United States?
  • Can we get "free-market health care" if part or all of "ObamaCare" is overturned?

Come and learn more about the pitfalls of government-run medicine and the possibilities ahead.

  • Who: You're invited
  • What: Screening of film "Sick and Sicker" followed by ...
  • Open Discussion: With Q&A on the future of health care in the U.S.A.
  • Where: The Albuquerque Museum (Art Museum) auditorium
  • When: 6:00 to 8:00PM on Thursday, December 8, 2011
  • Cost: $10 payable at door includes light beverages and snacks

About the film:

Logan Darrow Clements shows what happens when "the government becomes your doctor" using licensed news footage from Canadian TV, interviews with doctors, patients, journalists, a health minister, a Member of Parliament, a doctor who went on a hunger strike as well the producer's own Canadian relatives. Clements even rents a hospital to show the mismatch between supply and demand in a medical system run by politicians. Sick and Sicker puts "ObamaCare" on ice with cold hard facts from Canada.

About the speaker – Dr. Deane Waldman:

Deane is passionate about fixing our sick healthcare system. On both the professional and personal levels, Deane has been exposed to every aspect of health care: practicing medicine, administration, research, teaching, as well as being a critically ill patient himself. Combining this first-hand experience with his MBA knowledge and his research in management and business, Deane shares valuable insights into the root causes of why the healthcare system continues to fail patients, nurses, doctors, and our country, and most importantly, what you can do about it.

Deane has been a practicing pediatric cardiologist for over 35 years. He has authored more than 300 articles on both the practice of medicine and healthcare strategy and is an Adjunct Scholar for the Rio Grande Foundation. His first two published books were "Uproot U.S. Healthcare" and its translation into Spanish: "Cambio Radical al Sistema de Salud de los Estados Unidos." His third book – "Not Right!" – explores the controversy over a right to health care. It will be available in June 2012.

2011-12-08 18:00 - 20:00

Putting Teeth in Transparency


“Transparency,” when it comes to government, it is certainly the ideal. Taxpayers – the ones who pay government’s bills – deserve nothing less. The good news is that New Mexico governments have made great strides in recent years.

To name just a few improvements, records of legislative floor sessions are now online, as are all floor votes. New Mexico’s new “Sunshine Portal” includes an expanding collection of payroll data, revenue lists and contract amounts. A growing number of cities, counties and school districts across New Mexico now post complete or at least partial payroll information online. Albuquerque Public Schools recently joined the fast-growing list.

Robert Bradley's Presentation in Albuquerque

Energy expert Robert Bradley recently spoke at a luncheon sponsored by the Rio Grande Foundation, Energy Makes America Great, and the New Mexico Utility Shareholders Alliance. Although we did not get full video of this event, check out the interview that Rob Nikolewski of Capitol Report New Mexico did with Bradley below:
Bradley's informative powerpoint presentation is available here.

The EPA’s Shocking Power Grab in New Mexico

The Washington, DC-based Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the New Mexico-based Rio Grande Foundation have released a new report on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s)rampant abuse of power in enforcing the “Regional Haze Provision” of the federal Clean Air Act.

Full text of the new report is available online.

The specific target of the EPA in this unfolding debacle is the San Juan Generating Station in the Four Corners region of New Mexico. Author William Yeatman, Assistant Director, Center for Energy and Environment, at CEI, describes in detail how the EPA ran roughshod over New Mexico’s rightful authority under the Clean Air Act, at a cost of almost $340 million to New Mexico ratepayers.

As Yeatman writes in the paper, “New Mexico proposed a plan in full compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. In a contortion of logic, the EPA is rejecting New Mexico’s cost-effective analysis for a plan that achieves the EPA’s own target for cost-effectiveness. It is the only state subject to this bizarre reasoning.”

While overreach on the part of the EPA is not uncommon, Yeatman explains in detail that “New Mexico is being treated differently than every other state, in order to justify $700 million in costs beyond what the EPA’s own rules stipulate are necessary.”

Said Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation, “In New Mexico, we care deeply about both clean air and economic growth. Our own policymakers in the Environmental Department came up with a cost-effective solution that fully-complied with the EPA’s own guidelines, but that was completely ignored by the out-of-control federal agency.”

Concluded Yeatman, “New Mexico lawmakers should send a strong message to the EPA that its actions are unacceptable. They should enact a resolution condemning the EPA’s arbitrary regulations and demand that New Mexico be treated like its peers. In so doing, they would be governing in the best interest of the nearly 500,000 New Mexicans who face a $120 per year electricity tax to pay for invisible benefits.”

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