Sitting on the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education comes with an enormous responsibility: preparing our children for whatever comes next. It’s not an easy task considering two-thirds of students qualify for free meals, more than 16% are classified as English language learners and about 17% have learning disabilities.
The Journal Editorial Board makes its endorsements for school board based on candidates’ qualifications – board members have to oversee what this year was a $1.6 billion budget, and APS is the largest employer in the city – but also on their plan for optimizing student achievement. School board members need to have a clear-eyed view of the challenges facing the district and a road map to make sure our students get the best shot they can at life.
District 1 – Madelyn A. Jones
Madelyn Jones would bring important viewpoints to the APS Board that have been lacking – the viewpoint of a parent of a special-needs student who went on to get two college degrees and a business owner who tries to hire APS graduates.
Incumbent Yolanda Montoya-Cordova, who currently represents the area roughly south of Central Avenue, told the Editorial Board that testing metrics are what’s wrong and many students pegged as needing remediation really don’t – a position we find far from reality.
That has not been Jones’ experience, who echoes the business community when she says over her four decades in the workplace she has seen the reading and math abilities of APS grads decline.
Jones says the district needs to get back to teaching, not building, and do a better job balancing growth with infill to get the most out of its many existing buildings. She says APS needs to listen to voices outside the status quo, employ multiple methods to ensure all students can read by third grade, and stop falling back on the excuse of “it’s too hard” to teach, to budget, to listen.
The Journal recommends voters in District 1 put Madelyn A. Jones’ common-sense approach on the APS Board.
District 2 – Peggy Lee Muller-Arag ó n
Incumbent Peggy Muller-Aragón has proven in the past four years she is the vocal minority when it comes to a focus on academics and fiscal responsibility. The longtime APS teacher has pushed for greater accountability and transparency in the district.
Muller-Aragón, who represents the Northwest quadrant, was the sole vote against putting the doomed $900 million tax question on the January ballot. And she was the only board member to acknowledge voters deserve academic results for their investment.
Muller-Aragón is a fiscal conservative but brings to her seat a passion for education that she developed during decades as a classroom teacher. She has taught in every quadrant of Albuquerque, believes every child can be educated and says the superintendent’s compensation should be tied to student outcomes.
At the same time, Muller-Aragón recognizes teachers are overburdened, and if she had her way, would help them focus every action on students. District 2 voters should keep Peggy Muller-Aragón standing up for their children as well as their pocketbooks.
District 4 – Barbara Petersen
While the Journal Editorial Board has often disagreed with incumbent Barbara Petersen, it is encouraging the longtime teacher isn’t in denial about the challenges APS faces.
Petersen, who represents the area in the southeast corner of the Big I, would end year-to-year budgeting so APS can take the long strategic view. She wants to bolster professional development, reading interventions and bilingual programs and ethnic studies. And in an important nod to transparency, she pushed to release suspension records despite the expected public relations uproar over racial disparity.
Among the issues on which the Journal and Petersen disagree is her position that student academic growth should not be part of educator evaluations and school grades. But Barbara Petersen’s experience in overseeing the district’s large budget makes her the best candidate in District 4.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.