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 1 Las Cruces Public Schools

Abel Balcazar

  • Should there be a mask requirement for children going back to schools in the fall?
    • Answer:
      There is no compelling evidence that requiring children to wear masks  significantly decreases the risk of them contracting COVID-19 (C-19.) In fact,  according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children have a 99.997%  survival rate from C-19 and less than 1 percent of C-19 positive children require  hospitalization. And a 40,000 person study by Iceland’s Directorate of Health and  deCODE genetics showed that children under 15 were about half as likely as  adults to be infected or to transmit C-19. 

      Additionally, researchers from the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany  found there were 24 reported physical, psychological and behavioral health  issues associated with children wearing masks, including irritability (60%),  headache (53%), difficulty concentrating (50%), less happiness (49%),  reluctance to go to school/kindergarten (44%), malaise (42%), impaired learning  (38%) and drowsiness or fatigue (37%).

      For these and other reasons I do not believe there should be a mask requirement for children to attend school.

https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/children-and covid-19-state-level-data-report/ 

https://assets.researchsquare.com/files/rs-124394/v2/bdeb04c9-7a3e-4bb4-997a 0dce53145ac7.pdf 

  • 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:

Research conducted by the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee and  Oxford University scholars, respectively, indicates that there is a significant “loss  of learning” due to school closures –especially for those children from lower income and less educated households. New Mexico’s public schools did not  reopen quickly enough. 

https://www.abqjournal.com/1512119/nm-students-face-learning-loss.html

https://www.pnas.org/content/118/17/e2022376118 

  • 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: Charter schools are one of several approaches to improving the education of  children by allowing teachers more freedom to run their classroom, by increasing  incentives for accountability, and offering students and parents in low performing  schools more choices for better schools –especially for minority and lower income families. As a Las Cruces Public Schools Board member, I will support  charter school development within our district.
  • 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 first accountability tool is a comprehensive assessment of how the district is  spending its budget to prioritize classroom learning so that teachers are not only  fairly compensated but all the materials they need are available so teachers do  not have to spend their own money on basic supplies. Another accountability tool  is to comprehensively assess whether the curriculum is appropriate and effective  –not just theoretical.  

I will work with the other board members to use these and other accountability  tools to increase parental involvement and student outcomes by reaching out to  parents and listening, as well as addressing the needs of teachers and  administrators. 

  • 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:

Although the district’s website, tucked under the Community tab drop-down, does  have a “Finance Sunshine Portal” that includes a budget of over 100 pages,  there should be a summary of employee salaries, administrator contracts, and  other records of interest to the community that is more easily available and  prominently displayed.  

http://www.lcps.net/finance/finance-sunshine-portal/ 

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

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is, according to one of its founders, Dr. Derrick Bell, “a  body of legal scholarship…characterized by frequent use of the first person,  storytelling, narrative, allegory, interdisciplinary treatment of law, and the  unapologetic use of creativity…inherits…a commitment to being “critical,” which in  this sense means also to be ‘radical.’” CRT has been used as trojan horse to inject  an extremist political agenda into the public schools. Such an agenda-driven theory, especially its oppressor/oppressed aspects, is not appropriate for K-12  classrooms.  

Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory?”. 1995 University of Illinois Law Review.