Categories
Artesia Public Schools

Ben Harvey

  • Should there be a mask requirement for children going back to schools in the fall?
    • No, there should not be a mask requirement. Local school districts and ultimately parents should decide what is best for their child’s health. We now have plenty of data that shows children are neither at significant risk from covid 19 nor do they transmit it to others at significant rates.
  • Do you believe that the State and your district returned students to their classrooms: Too Early, At the right time, or Not quickly enough? (pick one).
    • Not quickly enough. NM schools are already last or very close to last in all categories of education. Keeping our kids out of school for a whole year was the worst thing we could ever have done for our kids. Last year without school, did the most damage to the kids that are already struggling, putting them even further behind.
  • Districts are one potential charter school authorizer in the State of New Mexico. Could you offer a brief sentence or two regarding your feelings on charter schools and your support/opposition in your district?
    • I generally think that charter schools can be a good thing as they give parents and students more options and they increase competition amongst schools that eventually makes all schools better.  They may not be the best for small school districts such as ours though as human and capital resources are already spread thin.
  • What kind of accountability tools do you believe should be implemented at the district level to improve student outcomes? How would you work within your school board to improve student outcomes? 
    • The key to improving student outcomes is parent/family involvement and student and family accountability. The school should provide the best possible teachers, resources, and opportunities. The rest is up to the individual student and their family. As a school board member, I will work to provide each individual with the best teachers, resources, and opportunities.
  • If it does not already do so, would you support creating an online transparency portal to include annual budget information, employee salaries, administrator contracts, and other public records?
    • Our public schools are public institutions. All information should be available to the public.
  • In your view, is Critical Race Theory, particularly the oppressor/oppressed dynamics it teaches, appropriate for middle and high school classrooms? 
    • Critical race theory does not belong anywhere in our society let alone middle and high school classrooms.  Among other things, it defines people in groups based on race, gender, and other factors rather than as individuals.  America has worked hard to get past oppressor/oppressed dynamics. Teaching our kids in the classroom that they still fit into one of these groups only divides us and moves us backwards.   

Categories
Carlsbad

Tiffany Shirley, Carlsbad District 3

Should there be a mask requirement for children going back to schools  in the fall?

No, I don’t believe a mask should be required. 

2) Do you believe that the State and your district returned students to their  classrooms: Too Early, At the right time, or Not quickly enough? (pick  one).

I do not believe the State allowed our students to return to their  classrooms quickly enough and, unfortunately, our students suffered  greatly due to this. 

3) Districts are one potential charter school authorizer in the State of New  Mexico. Could you offer a brief sentence or two regarding your feelings on  charter schools and your support/opposition in your district?

I believe that the more options that our families have in  education, the more likely we are to find what truly propels our  children towards success in their individual education, and their lives  well beyond their school years. I support having as many options as  possible for our local families to choose from, whether that be public,  private, charter, online or home school education options. 

4) What kind of accountability tools do you believe should be implemented  at the district level to improve student outcomes? How would you work  within your school board to improve student outcomes?

I frequently tell our employees “Tell me what makes your job  easier, what tools you need to be more efficient and successful”. If  we aren’t willing to listen to the ones with their boots on the ground, 

carrying out our orders, we are silencing our greatest asset for  improvement. I would love to hear from our local educators on this  subject. I am a full supporter of transparency in every area of  education, and I believe part of that transparency comes from  listening to those that we entrust our precious children with every  day. This is another reason why local control of our education  system is so crucial. 

5) If it does not already do so, would you support creating an online  transparency portal to include annual budget information, employee  salaries, administrator contracts, and other public records?

Yes, 100%! Easily accessible public transparency is crucial. Our  district has taken large strides in recent years to become more  transparent, and although I believe there is much more work to be  done here, I applaud the improvements they have made so far.  

6) In your view, is Critical Race Theory, particularly the

oppressor/oppressed dynamics it teaches, appropriate for middle and high  school classrooms?

No, I do not support the use of CRT curriculum in any of our  classrooms. 

Categories
Albuquerque Public Schools District 6

Celia Cortez, APS Write in Candidate District 6

1) Should there be a mask requirement for children going back to schools in the fall?

Children should not be required to wear masks to school. There is sufficient medical evidence to demonstrate that masking healthy individuals, especially children, can have more risk than benefit. Each parent/child (including APS staff) should look at their individual situation and risk and take appropriate action to protect themselves.

Masks are considered a medical device, therefore they should be prescribed by a medical doctor. In work settings masks are regulated by OSHA requiring fitting and testing, which is not available for the masses.

 

2) Do you believe that the State and your district returned students to their classrooms: Too Early, At the right time, or Not quickly enough? (pick one).

Not quickly enough.

I do understand the teachers concerns for returning to school, however I also understand the parents need for school to reopen. Initially, I backed the districts decision but by late spring of 2020, there was sufficient data, nationally and internationally, to support returning to the classroom. This is important not only from an educational point, but critical for the many children who rely on the schools for meals, socialization and possibly identifying abuse.

 

3) Districts are one potential charter school authorizer in the State of New Mexico. Could you offer a brief sentence or two regarding your feelings on charter schools and your support/opposition in your district?

I support all forms of competition, especially in education. If a child’s needs are not being met in a classroom setting, parent should be able to find the best learning opportunity for their child. I do however believe that public education should be supported and helped to be competitive so all children will have an education that prepares them for career or college.

 

4) What kind of accountability tools do you believe should be implemented at the district level to improve student outcomes? How would you work within your school board to improve student outcomes?   

The board needs to refocus on APS’s mission – preparing the children for college or career. If a child can’t read or do math at an appropriate level, measures need to be taken to meet the mission.

For students a simple A-D grading system helps parents understand where their children are succeeding and needing help. Generally speaking, this grading system is to help the children, not to evaluate a teacher. I do not favor “social promotion” in most situations.

 

5) Are you in favor of splitting APS into smaller districts in order to encourage more local participation?

I would encourage local participation first and foremost. With a larger district, there can be advantages of cost savings and economies of scale, however if these advantages are not actually in place splitting the district should be visited. Public input should be considered with the cost implications made available.

 

6) If it does not already do so, would you support creating an online transparency portal to include annual budget information, employee salaries, administrator contracts, and other public records? 

I believe in transparency for all public services. Some of this information is currently available on the APS website, however it is difficult to find. Given the services are paid for with tax payer dollars, this information should be easy to access/find.

 

7) In your view, is Critical Race Theory, particularly the oppressor/oppressed dynamics it teaches, appropriate for middle and high school classrooms? 

In my view and the view of many educators, the teaching of Critical Race Theory is not appropriate for middle or high school studies (much less elementary). Too many students are not at their appropriate reading or math levels, which should be the focus of education.

Proponents of CRT feel that it is simply the teaching of history. I am in favor of teaching world history, the good and bad for all races and countries at age appropriate times.

Many of the books listed on the suggested reading list for CRT fail to provide a full picture of history. Suggestions on reading Malcolm X are always included, however I have never seen important figures like Thomas Sowell, Booker T Washington among many other important historical figures listed. Students should not be led to a conclusion.

 

Categories
Updates

Charter Schools are good

The “Our View” article published in the Santa Fe New Mexican on August 25th argues against a potential k-8 charter school to be located in Santa Fe. The editorial argues that “explosion of charter schools in NM has spread resources too thin.”

No evidence is offered regarding resources being spread too thin and the fact that large numbers of New Mexicans prefer charter schools to traditional schools is somehow taken to be a bad thing. While still “public” and required to adhere to state rules, charter schools do have flexibility in certain employment and curriculum policies. Rather than “spreading resources too thin,” it would be more accurate to say that charter schools provide popular educational options for an increasing number of families at no additional cost to New Mexico taxpayers. Money that might go to the traditional Santa Fe Public Schools and other districts may be shifted, but those resources are simply following the students themselves. That money doesn’t belong to the bureaucracy, rather it rightfully should be used to educate the student.

The Santa Fe community supports the Thrive Community School. In fact, according to their publicly-available application which includes a survey of parents and community members, there is strong support for the school. Of 145 survey respondents, over 85.5% were either “Very Supportive” or “Supportive” of Thrive Community School opening in the summer 2022. To the same question, 6.9% of respondents were “Neutral” and 7.6% were either “Unsupportive” or “Very Unsupportive.”

Finally, the editorial fails to consider that its proposed remedy is more of the same. Just like throwing more money at the problem, more tutoring volunteers and 501-c3’s will do little in the end. Teachers and educational entrepreneurs must be incentivized to provide the best product for their clients, and parents must be empowered to be able to choose the best for their own children. In other words, real school choice must be encouraged. Charter schools like Thrive Community School are the best option available for many New Mexico families.

Edwin Aybar Lopez is Director of Education Coalitions at Opportunity for All Kids New Mexico www.oaknm.org, an organization dedicated to reforming New Mexico’s education system.

Categories
Carlsbad District 3 School Board Survey

Tiffany Shirley

Should there be a mask requirement for children going back to schools  in the fall? 

No, I don’t believe a mask should be required. 

2) Do you believe that the State and your district returned students to their  classrooms: Too Early, At the right time, or Not quickly enough? (pick  one). 

I do not believe the State allowed our students to return to their  classrooms quickly enough and, unfortunately, our students suffered  greatly due to this. 

3) Districts are one potential charter school authorizer in the State of New  Mexico. Could you offer a brief sentence or two regarding your feelings on  charter schools and your support/opposition in your district? 

I believe that the more options that our families have in  education, the more likely we are to find what truly propels our  children towards success in their individual education, and their lives  well beyond their school years. I support having as many options as  possible for our local families to choose from, whether that be public,  private, charter, online or home school education options. 

4) What kind of accountability tools do you believe should be implemented  at the district level to improve student outcomes? How would you work  within your school board to improve student outcomes?  

I frequently tell our employees “Tell me what makes your job  easier, what tools you need to be more efficient and successful”. If  we aren’t willing to listen to the ones with their boots on the ground, 

carrying out our orders, we are silencing our greatest asset for  improvement. I would love to hear from our local educators on this  subject. I am a full supporter of transparency in every area of  education, and I believe part of that transparency comes from  listening to those that we entrust our precious children with every  day. This is another reason why local control of our education  system is so crucial. 

5) If it does not already do so, would you support creating an online  transparency portal to include annual budget information, employee  salaries, administrator contracts, and other public records? 

Yes, 100%! Easily accessible public transparency is crucial. Our  district has taken large strides in recent years to become more  transparent, and although I believe there is much more work to be  done here, I applaud the improvements they have made so far.  

6) In your view, is Critical Race Theory, particularly the  

oppressor/oppressed dynamics it teaches, appropriate for middle and high  school classrooms? 

No, I do not support the use of CRT curriculum in any of our  classrooms. 

 

Categories
District 3 Los Lunas Public Schools

Jessie Lewis

  • Should there be a mask requirement for children going back to schools in the fall?

NO, I do not believe that children should be required to wear masks to be allowed to attend school.
Parents and families should have the choice.
However, I realize that this is an issue divided and that many parents won’t send their kids to school if they feel their kids aren’t safe. Getting kids back in school is of utmost importance; I could compromise on a recommendation for masks if it helped keep kids in their classrooms.

  • Do you believe that the State and your District returned students to their classrooms: too early, at the
    right time, or not quickly enough?

Kids were not back in school quickly enough. New Mexico’s children are already struggling to meet basic educational skills and New Mexico’s schools rank lowest in the nation. It’s yet to be seen how drastic the impacts on achievement in math, science, and language will be, but I am certain that keeping students from attending schools has had a negative social and emotional impact, that for some, will be lasting.

  • A brief sentence or two regarding your feelings on charter schools and your support/opposition in your
    district:

Charter schools offer additional choices and opportunities. Every option to improve a child’s opportunity should be explored and family choice should be an option.

  • What kind of tools do you believe should be implemented at the district level to improve student
    outcomes? How would you work within your school board to improve student outcomes?

Set measurable goals! Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and given a Time Frame kind of goals.
SMART goals should be set for teachers, students, and staff. I also think “interviewing” the kids and teachers from time to time could provide important feedback on the daily on-goings in the classroom. I think actively inviting parents back into the classrooms and making curriculum information easily accessible could prove excellent accountability tools.
I would work with the board, the superintendent, and with input from the teachers and parents, to
create said goals and to define how those goals will be assessed. I believe the reported progress could be a start in improving student outcomes.

  • Do you support an online transparency portal to include annual budgetary information?

Yes

  • In your view is CRT, particularly the oppressor/oppressed dynamics it teaches, appropriate for middle
    and high school classrooms?

NO, critical race theory is NOT appropriate for our children’s classrooms. CRT began as a “creative” way to view law and the application of it through the lens of race. Let adults hash out how much racism has impacted outcomes and statistics. Children should learn about key events that shaped their world, they should be taught history not hate. When they learn about historical events, they will learn to think critically about how racism, and poverty, and religion, and immigration, culture, technology, etc., etc. has
impacted the world they live in today. America’s past should be taught in historical context and be age/grade appropriate.
No one, no child, should be taught that they belong to a group of oppressors or the oppressed.

Categories
District 3 Las Cruces Public Schools

Eloy Francisco Macha

  • Should there be a mask requirement for children going back to schools in the fall?

Students, Parents and Educators should be encouraged to make most appropriate personal health choice decision as best suited for them. Those personal health choices must be respected as they are between the student, parent, and their health care provider. 

On a personal level, I would defer to parents as being the sole decision maker with regards to any medical device, including masks, that they feel their student should use. 

Universal health mandates in our education system violates established New Mexico Supreme Court rulings which state “School Officials DO NOT possess complete authority over students” and cannot force health choices nor matters to our students or educators.

  •  Do you believe that the State and your district returned students to their classrooms: Too Early, At the right time, or Not quickly enough? (pick one).

Not quickly enough. Our school systems, both at the state and district level, were not ready nor prepared for delivery of online education. We must commend the attempt when it was not understood what we faced, but 18 months later, we have learned so much of those decisions and need to avoid making the same mistakes again. 

Our students have experienced loss in their education due to lack of enforcing online class attendance this past year which was exacerbated by both our educators/students not being adept in the delivery of online education.

We are also seeing a rise in mental health afflictions of our students due to the psychological impact incurred due to isolation, lack of social interaction with their peers and loss of structure in not being in the classroom. 

Those trends need to be reversed.

 

  • Districts are one potential charter school authorizer in the State of New Mexico. Could you offer a brief sentence or two regarding your feelings on charter schools and your support/opposition in your district?

Parents need to have the ability to choose the most beneficial method in the delivery of education for their students. I support charter schools, holding them accountable in the delivery of high-quality education and need to be in-line with the goals of preparing our students for their future endeavors. 

I would encourage our state legislators to revisit school choice topics. In today’s age of in which advances in technology are prevalent in education, and novel ways of delivering education are rising, I encourage innovations in which the appropriate education delivery for a student – be it home, private, charter, for-profit, public or hybrid – is made available for students and leverage the adoption of advances in technology to support this effort. The State Legislators need to allow School Districts additional autonomy to make these decisions and investments.

 

  • What kind of accountability tools do you believe should be implemented at the district level to improve student outcomes? How would you work within your school board to improve student outcomes?   

The most effective accountability tool would be an audit mechanism instituted in the school district, which needs to be an independent arm of the school district, with their sole focus being accountability of the School Board, School Administrators, Principals and Educators. Regular reports should be published and should made publicly available.

Accountability in our school district begins at the school board. Transparency of all policy decisions, resolution, and other areas needs to occur – each school board member needs to be clear on the various sources of input used, the various studies used, and to particularly highlight the impact/influence from parents and communities in decisions made at the board level. This will enable consensus building outcomes.

When policies are being implemented, the superintendent will need to be accountable in the decisions being made with regards to the implementation of those policies. The superintendent needs to be transparent in the impact/influence parents and the local community have made on the various implementation approaches. This will enable consensus building outcomes.

Principals are accountable to their educators and the superintendent. Educators and parents must hold their principal accountable when allotted resources are being set to the various programs served by the principal’s school. Resource allocation needs to be transparent in a manner for educators and parents to be given the reasons to the allocations. Principals should welcome input/feedback form educators/parents on resource allocation decisions.

Educators are accountable to their principals; they are also accountable to parents of their students. Educators are the partners of Parents – Parents need to have a clear view on not just the curriculum that educators will teach, but also how that curriculum will be taught. Educators need to work with their student’s parents beyond the semi-annual parent-teacher conferences. Parents should be able to provide feedback to both their educator and school principals on their impact onto the education of their students.

A separate audit arm/mechanism would greatly assist in demonstrating accountability at all of these levels within the school district.

 

  • If it does not already do so, would you support creating an online transparency portal to include annual budget information, employee salaries, administrator contracts, and other public records? 

Transparency is needed to demonstrate accountability. Being transparent in budget and monetary items by the school district will go a long way in re-establishing Trust with the community. School Board members, along with key School Administrators, have a fiduciary responsibility of ensuring resources allotted to the school district yield the desired results.  

The most appropriate way of providing transparency would need to be identified for the school district. 

Also, a few considerations need to be studied as to how a school district can provide a level of transparency for the budget, salaries, contracts, and other public records. These include privacy, confidential and other PII sensitive data in adherence with local laws as to how this data is handled and made publicly available. 

 

  •  In your view, is Critical Race Theory, particularly the oppressor/oppressed dynamics it teaches, appropriate for middle and high school classrooms? 

No. Critical Race Theory, or any other Cultural Marxist ideology, should only be studied within the context of the study of ideologies, the study of history, and the study of how societies have been impacted by Cultural Marxism. Universities may be the most appropriate for these types of studies, and even then, it should only be taught in a setting where ideologies can truly be analyzed without bias.

That said, CRT is an ideology that has no place in any K-12 classroom. This ideology, or any other ideology that is an offshoot of CRT, should not be studied nor should it be implemented in a K-12 setting. Forcing our educators to deliver their curriculum through CRT-infused methodologies (such as Cultural Linguistic Responsiveness here in New Mexico) will harm our students and our educators.  In short, CRT has no place in K-12 setting.

 

Categories
District 3 Los Lunas Public Schools

Paul “Pablito” Herrera

  • Should there be a mask requirement for children going back to schools in the fall?

The CDC defines direct contact as less than 6 feet apart for more than 6 minutes. If children are able to avoid direct contact (stay more than 6 feet apart throughout the day) why should they wear a mask?

 

  •  Do you believe that the State and your district returned students to their classrooms: Too Early, At the right time, or Not quickly enough? (pick one).

Not quickly enough.

  •  Districts are one potential charter school authorizer in the State of New Mexico. Could you offer a brief sentence or two regarding your feelings on charter schools and your support/opposition in your district?

When we rank 50th in the nation, all options should be considered. Why would we oppose any form of education that would improve educational outcomes?

  •  What kind of accountability tools do you believe should be implemented at the district level to improve student outcomes? How would you work within your school board to improve student outcomes?

Student assessments, staff, parent, and student feedback, etc. All these tools should be used to make adjustments and to guide continual quality improvement.

 

  • If it does not already do so, would you support creating an online transparency portal to include annual budget information, employee salaries, administrator contracts, and other public records?

Yes

  • In your view, is Critical Race Theory, particularly the oppressor/oppressed dynamics it teaches, appropriate for middle and high school classrooms?

It is never appropriate to teach children that they are oppressed or oppressors based on the color of their skin.

 

Categories
Alamogordo Public Schools

Sara Weihausen

  • Should there be a mask requirement for children going back to schools in the fall?

No

  •  Do you believe that the State and your district returned students to their classrooms: Too Early, At the right time, or Not quickly enough? (pick one).

Too Early

  • Districts are one potential charter school authorizer in the State of New Mexico. Could you offer a brief sentence or two regarding your feelings on charter schools and your support/opposition in your district?

I think Charter schools could be a great alternative to public schools, although at the moment our Governor is still mandating the same rules for all schools public or private. I also still believe we need to bring local control back to our public schools. Choice is good, but we still have to stop the indoctrination in the public schools.

  • What kind of accountability tools do you believe should be implemented at the district level to improve student outcomes? How would you work within your school board to improve student outcomes?

The number one problem is what is being forced into the schools by the state and teacher’s unions. We have to get them out of our schools. They are not teaching basic academics. So, first we need to get back to academics and include assessments within each subject to monitor student success and continue to adjust the pace to bring the students back to where they should be for each grade level.    

  • If it does not already do so, would you support creating an online transparency portal to include annual budget information, employee salaries, administrator contracts, and other public records?

Yes, the school district and how it is run should be transparent.

  • In your view, is Critical Race Theory, particularly the oppressor/oppressed dynamics it teaches, appropriate for middle and high school classrooms?

Critical Race Theory is absolutely not appropriate for any grade level. Sadly, it is being taught here and throughout this state and needs to be removed, as does the Restorative Justice school discipline programs that go along with it.

Categories
Albuquerque Public Schools District 3

Ali Ennenga

  • Should there be a mask requirement for children going back to schools in the fall?
    • Answer: No. We have seen that masks do not work and that a child wearing them
      can develop serious illnesses from wearing them for very long periods throughout
      the day. They should have the choice – it should not be mandated.
  • Do you believe that the State and your district returned students to their classrooms: Too Early, At the right time, or Not quickly enough? (pick one).
    • Answer: Not quickly enough.
  • Districts are one potential charter school authorizer in the State of New Mexico. Could you offer a brief sentence or two regarding your feelings on charter schools and your support/opposition in your district?
    • Answer: I wholeheartedly support charter schools. Part of the reason charter schools should exist, is to give choice to parents/students, and competition for the Districts. 
  • What kind of accountability tools do you believe should be implemented at the district level to improve student outcomes? How would you work within your school board to improve student outcomes?
    • Answer: The Board of Education (APS School Board) is not being held accountable
      and should be making policy to cause each district to become more competitive.
      Why is there no policy that holds the Superintendent accountable to make sure
      that each district is steadily improving in reading and writing. The Board should
      be holding him/her accountable for improvements.
  • Are you in favor of splitting APS into smaller districts in order to encourage more local participation?
    • Answer: yes.
  • If it does not already do so, would you support creating an online transparency portal to include annual budget information, employee salaries, administrator contracts, and other public records?
    • Answer: yes.
  • In your view, is Critical Race Theory, particularly the
    oppressor/oppressed dynamics it teaches, appropriate
    for middle and high school classrooms?

    • Answer: no.