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APS District 2: Candidate profiles and Q&A

c02_jd_23jan_aqbios2kKATHY KORTE

Age: 44

Education: Bachelor of Arts, journalism; University of Texas-El Paso

Occupation: Mother, wife, public servant

Family: Husband Tim (married for 20 years); four children in APS West Side schools

Political/government Experience: Incumbent, Board of Education District 2

Major professional accomplishment: I have used my talents and passion as a school volunteer and elected official to advocate for many people who feel they don’t have a voice, especially our children, parents and teachers. I am humbled that my community put their trust in me and elected me to the Board of Education for the first time in 2011.

Major personal accomplishment: My marriage to my very supportive husband, and my children, who are great students and kind and empathetic human beings. I am very proud of my husband and children. I am blessed with supportive friends and extended family.

c02_jd_23jan_aqbios2pPEGGY MULLER-ARAGÓN

Age: 56

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education (University of New Mexico, 1980), Master of Arts Education Administration (University of New Mexico, 1990)

Occupation: Retired educator

Family: Husband, Robert Aragon; daughters, Amberlee, Ashlee and Kylee Aragon.

Political/government Experience: Involvement in local, state and national political campaigns.

Major professional accomplishment: Spending the entirety of my career with the Albuquerque Public Schools and being able to see how my teaching affected hundreds of children’s learning experience.


Questions to APS District 2 candidates

1. Do you agree with the APS board’s refusal to make public the results of an attorney’s investigation into former superintendent Winston Brooks, which ultimately led to his resignation and to APS paying him $350,000 to buy out his contract? Why or why not?

Korte: Because this issue remains the subject of potential legal action against APS, I cannot comment at this time. However, on 11/14/14 when the Board voted to ratify the process that was followed in hiring the attorney that did the investigation, I voted no.

Muller-Aragón: No. Any expenditure of taxpayer money belongs in the public domain and demands complete transparency.

2. Do you support legislation that would require retention of third-graders who couldn’t read at grade level coupled with intense early literacy intervention? Why?

Korte: I support early literacy education and intensive supports for our struggling grade-level readers. Legislation that has been proposed in the past and is proposed for the 2015 session doesn’t hint at any understanding of the fact that each child is unique and has a different way of learning. Statistics also show that 1 in 5 children struggles with a reading disorder such as dyslexia. There are well-known methods that could be implemented in our schools if our real goal is to support struggling readers.

Met_jd_23jan_APS districtsMuller-Aragón: It is critical that children learn to read by third grade. For the most part, I support ending the policy of social promotion and believe we should intervene early with those struggling readers so every child can receive the individualized help they need. But as an educator, I did find that in certain circumstances social promotion was justified while in others it was not.

3. Should APS administrators be allowed to take paid political leave to serve in the Legislature? Should teachers be allowed to take paid political leave to serve?

Korte: What’s the difference between our longtime APS veteran and interim superintendent Brad Winter being paid by taxpayers for his work in APS and his work as an elected member of the City Council? His work in both capacities has helped the city and district. If our interim superintendent can serve and be paid by taxpayers in two capacities, so should teachers. Teachers need a voice in Santa Fe.

Muller-Aragón: Neither APS administrators nor teachers should be allowed to take paid political leave to serve in the Legislature as it violates our state’s constitution anti-donation clause.

4. What percentage, if any, of a teacher’s evaluation should be based on student test scores and why?

Korte: The American Statistical Association cites “most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores.” So therefore, the evaluation score based on tests should coincide with 1% to 14% – NOT 50%. In addition, the local Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education (CESE) says: “a 50% weighting of a bad measure may provide an even worse result.”

Muller-Aragón: I believe that the progress children make during the school year should be a significant portion of the evaluation process. As a licensed educator, this is reasonable despite the demagoguery over this issue it is one of the only viable vehicles to measure our progress as educators.

5. If elected what would be your top priorities?

Korte: To continue advocating for: elimination of excessive high-stakes testing that unfairly grades teachers, schools and kids and the associated unfunded mandates from the state; financial transparency and accountability in how our taxpayer dollars are being spent at local and state level; a parent’s right to be able to guide their child’s learning process, including the opt-out of government-mandated tests that don’t advance learning in the classroom; local control of school programs and financial resources; proven programs that close the poverty learning gap.

Muller-Aragón: Top priorities should be getting more dollars to the classroom, protecting local control and increasing parental involvement in our schools.

6. What qualities, key policy positions and previous work experience are you looking for in a new superintendent?

Korte: I prefer a local candidate who understands our district and its unique needs and strengths. I am looking for someone who can advocate for our students and teachers, as well as having the skills to build consensus among board members, among community members and with lawmakers.

Muller-Aragón: A Superintendent has to know that their role is one of implementing the policies established by the School Board. They also need to recognize that APS is not a monolithic community and must have the vision to see the communities within our district for who they are and understand for example, the needs of Pajarito are not necessarily the same as those of Hubert Humphrey. They must have the ability to foster positive relationships with our local and state leaders, both political and business, but most importantly, with our students and parents. Lastly, they need to have an understanding of our state’s funding formula, bonding capabilities and a strong administrative/management background.

7. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy hearing?

Korte: No.

Muller-Aragón: No.

8. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain.

Korte: No.

Muller-Aragón: No.

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