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Editorial: APS recall effort devolves from 3 Rs to Ds vs. Rs

For those who thought the effort to recall six of the seven members of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education was all about the kids, all about having accountable leadership in place to ensure they have every opportunity to master the three Rs, you’ve got another think comin’.

Because Jacob Gil, the angry dad who started the petition drive in the wake of the board paying now-ex-Superintendent Luis Valentino almost $100K to go away three months into a three-year contract, has scaled back his efforts to a Ds vs. Rs political vendetta.

Gil, a University of New Mexico student and military veteran, is no longer targeting board president Don Duran, who at a recent meeting likened public criticism to lynching and shouted at constituents “how dare you judge me.”

He is no longer targeting board member Lorenzo Garcia, who told the crowd “I hope some of those people who wrote (critical) emails and I will never meet because I can’t predict the outcome” in a not-so-veiled street-fight threat.

He is no longer targeting his own board member, Barbara Peterson.

Instead, Gil is going after board member Peggy Muller-Aragon.

And while Muller-Aragon should have respected the separation of church and state and refrained from telling the public “you can’t judge me – there’s only one being that can do that who knows my heart,” she is the only board member who has tried to do business in the open, who has eschewed the group’s closed-door discussions regarding non-personnel issues.

Yet Muller-Aragon now stands alone in Gil’s sights, primarily because she sat out two of the three closed meetings and had received $15,000 in campaign contributions from the Republican governor’s re-election campaign. Apparently he isn’t concerned with the significant teacher union contributions to other candidates who were elected.

“She alone refused to do her job of being a voice for her constituents,” Gil says of Muller-Aragon, adding he opposes testing and “unfair teacher evaluations” and backed off a larger recall effort because he didn’t want the Martinez administration to get the chance to fill the vacancies. (If only Muller-Aragon is recalled the board will pick her replacement.)

Muller-Aragon was wrong to miss both full meetings; she should have joined after making her point. But she was a voice – both outside the two secret meetings she decried and inside the third, where she voted with the rest of the board. And she does not and can not be a voice for Gil, as he does not live in her northwest Albuquerque district.

What could have – and should have – been an effort to demand real leadership and accountability from the state’s largest school district has devolved into a partisan battle centered on political movidas, rather than the needs of the almost 90,0000 children APS is supposed to serve.

And that really doesn’t serve anyone.

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.