Friday, January 21, 2011
School Board Candidates: Narrow Gap
By Hailey Heinz
Journal Staff Writer
School board hopefuls shared ideas Thursday for narrowing the achievement gap between Hispanic students and their Anglo counterparts — an issue that has plagued Albuquerque Public Schools for decades.
Candidates cited active parents as a key to raising achievement, and some criticized APS for not welcoming families.
"I think we really need to use parental involvement and not just use it as a buzzword within APS," said District 4 candidate Candido Archuleta Jr. "It actually has to be real, true and concrete. And I think APS is doing a horrible job of actually making that a reality."
Fourteen candidates are vying for three board seats that span the West Side, South Valley, University, Uptown and Kirtland areas.
Candidates for District 1 are Phillip Chavez, incumbent Dolores Griego, Analee Maestas, Clara Peña and Jay Zook.
Running in District 2 are John Herrera, Katherine Korte, Felix Nuñez, Peter Sanchez and Greg Snyder.
Candidates for District 4 are Archuleta, incumbent Martin Esquivel, Cheryl Ann Harris and Charles MacQuigg.
The election is Feb. 1, and early voting is ongoing through Jan. 28.
The discussion also dealt with whether the West Side should split into its own district, holding administration accountable, and whether the APS police department should become certified. APS plans to push for a certified police department, which would allow it to apply for federal grants.
Most candidates said they had reservations about the idea or opposed it outright, although Esquivel said the proposal would free up much-needed funding. District 2 candidates Nuñez and Snyder both said a police force is necessary.
"Unfortunately, there will always be a rotten apple and there's some that we just cannot save. This is what it comes down to, folks; we need to have a police department," Nuñez said, also citing the high cost of vandalism and the danger of school shootings.
Most questions related back to the achievement gap and hopefuls' ideas for closing it.
Korte, running in District 2, said the district should replicate programs that work, citing the AVID program as an example. AVID is a national program that targets the "academic middle." It was adopted in the Highland cluster and at Manzano High last school year.