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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.

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