As a grant writer I live for newly published data. The data I can use to supplement the section of my grant where I must share the need for the program. Statistics that say New Mexico is the most in need. We’re almost always 49th or 50th in just about every social issue. Times when a social issue is decreasing throughout our nation, we’re not decreasing or not decreasing as fast as other states. Life is hard in this state that is #1 in poverty and affected by all that poverty touches.
There is real value in knowing these statistics, knowing where we are and setting a plan for where we can go. It helps us bring money into the state to work on improving the issues and creating opportunity and access for change. But, our sensationalize everything culture is using the statistics to distract us from what is real.
I received a packet of statistics in the mail recently. The report was titled, The Best States to Raise A Child. Of course with that title I want to read it immediately and place my state on the list. Where was New Mexico? 51st! Yes, that is right, 51st. We only have 50 states. So, we’re the worst state to raise a child? That cannot be.
I have no problem when the statistics show truth in what is happening in our state. If our high teen pregnancy rate or our low high school graduation rate compares to all the other states, then that makes sense. But, how can you possibly put New Mexico as 51st on the list for the Best State to Raise a Child. This list isn’t recognizing those things that I value and appreciate. They aren’t measuring the reason I have chosen to move to and stay in this state. They don’t measure the community of support for children, the passion for caring for children, the innovate approach to improving the lives of children.
All too often we are measured by someone else’s yard stick. And, all too often that other yard stick doesn’t measure what is truly valuable and should be appreciated. The label given is misleading and truly misses the greatness. This booklet working to convince me that my state is a terrible place for children hasn’t even experienced our kids. On a daily basis I am surprised and proud of the children in our state. I have an exceptional view. In my time at the YWCA I’ve been able to see the girls who came through our programs and we’ve had several student interns. I have a few friends who coach high school sports and I’ve been around their students. I often get asked to come judge youth competitions or speak at youth events. I think I’ve seen a good sampling of our children. They seem to me to be amazing. They’ve been raised by this state and have extraordinary resiliency and capacity. Our issues haven’t ruined them.