A policy analyst, an attorney-turned stay at home mom and a community activist are vying for an open District 7 seat on the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education.
The district represents much of the Northeast Heights and is roughly bordered by Montgomery to the south and Louisiana to the west. La Cueva and Del Norte high schools fall within the district.
The trio is running for the open seat of APS Board of Education President David Peercy, who is stepping down after 12 years. Peercy said his belief that it was time for the board to have new members informed his decision to not seek reelection. He said the next District 7 member will have to tackle challenges such as the ongoing pandemic and low graduation rates.
Courtney Jackson, 46, graduated from La Cueva before going on to earn her J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2004. She has served on the APS Education Foundation and has experience serving on boards and working as a Parent Teacher Association president.
Policy analyst Julie Brenning, 34, holds a Master’s in Asian Studies from the University of Utah. She has worked as a policy analyst since 2013 and served on a committee where she worked to create a new evaluation system for struggling schools in APS.
Community organizer Nicholas Bevins, 25, is a graduate from New Mexico public schools and has attended the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College. He’s also the founder of an online community for autistic individuals.
From testing culture to student learning to barriers to success, each of the District 7 candidates have a different view on the biggest issues facing APS.
Jackson said the district needs to “prioritize student learning,” while the board should provide “measurable goals that are data driven.”
Brenning said home issues like poverty, drug use and neglect are barriers to academic success and should be addressed with a policy driven approach.
Bevins cited “testing culture,” “low pay for our staff” and class sizes as the top issues facing the district.
Much like the candidates differ in their views on top issues, the candidates also diverge in their approach to mask and vaccine mandates.
Jackson said she is not in favor of either mask or vaccine mandates and that the choice should be “left to the parents and their health professional.”
Brenning said she would “strongly encourage,” but not mandate vaccines while Bevins said he is in favor of a vaccine mandate and “vaccine requirements have a clear precedent in the United States.”
For mask mandates, Bevins said he is in favor until the pandemic is “under control” or until the “vaccination rate is over 90% as a state.”
Brenning said she supports safety measures like “masks, social distancing, ventilation and even outdoor classrooms.”