This story is a staff report from The Paper.

The Paper. asks the candidates to explain why they are running for office and explain solutions to issues in our city in their own words. We have included their full responses, with very little editing. To find your district visit aps.edu

The Paper.: Please introduce yourself.

Danielle Gonzales: I am a mom of four school-age kids, a former teacher, and I’ve worked over 20 years in education. I run a national nonprofit that partners with districts to help them improve. I have the expertise to understand the problems of today and the perspective to plan for the issues of tomorrow I’m running because I want every child in our city to get an excellent education that prepares them for success in life. I love my hometown too much to sit on the sidelines during this historic moment.

Lucas Gauthier: I am 43, father of 2 school aged children. I am a product of the public school system and know that it can be successful. I stumbled across some statistics that really caught my attention and well flat out upset me. The state ranks 50th in education. APS is the biggest district, and well that means it’s a huge contributing factor to that number. We owe it to our kids to get engaged and help make a difference and help them succeed.

Jinx Baskerville: I worked for 25 years in APS, as a Special Education Teacher at Rio Grande High School, an Assistant Principal at Albuquerque High School, and Principal at New Futures, a school for pregnant and parenting teens. Throughout my career I have been an advocate for students. Being on the Board of Education will give me a platform to continue to advocate on a different level for students, community, and teachers.

If a vaccine is approved for school-aged children, do you think Albuquerque Public Schools should require proof of vaccination for students to go to school? Why or why not?

Gonzales: Yes. We have required vaccines in schools since the 1800s and they work. Vaccines protect children from communicable diseases of all types, from measles, mumps and rubella to pertussis and tetanus. When students are healthy, safe and in school, they’re able to learn.

Gauthier: Medical decisions of children belong solely to parents and guardians. Approval doesn’t mean mandate and I would not support proof of vaccination.

Baskerville: Yes, I would support it. Vaccinations keep everyone safe and that’s the ultimate goal. This wouldn’t include children who are not able to take the vaccine for medical reasons.

Should Albuquerque Public Schools have its own police department?

Gonzales: No. Data shows that the presence of police in schools is associated with higher rates of exclusionary discipline (suspensions, expulsions), especially for students of color, and increases the likelihood of students being pushed into the “school to prison pipeline.” Also, students of color are more likely to attend schools with more police officers than counselors, so we should invest the money toward more counselors and social workers, and educator training on positive behavioral supports.

Gauthier: Our kids and educators deserve a safe a comfortable learning environment. I do support a police presence on middle school and high school campuses. I would support a benefit analysis of whether APS should have its own force or whether a private law enforcement firm should be contracted.

Baskerville: No.

How should APS teach students about New Mexico’s diverse cultural history and its legacies of colonization, discrimination, and inequity?

Gonzales: APS should adopt, and require the use of, curriculum and other instructional materials that are culturally and linguistically responsive. The district should also provide professional development for educators, aligned to that curriculum and anchored in the historical and cultural context of our community. APS should offer ethnic studies courses and partner with local universities, including tribal colleges to recruit more diverse teachers and train teachers to teach about our true history.

Gauthier: I grew up in a very diverse community in Florida and upon moving to NM in high school and attending Highland high school, I found diversity here as well. NM history is rich in culture and all should be taught and celebrated because it has formed what we now experience in our community. I support educating our children in a manner that focuses on the Golden Rule and how as a society we can learn from the past and rise above inequality by mutual respect.

Baskerville: APS needs to institutionalize ethnic studies K-12. This requires wide-spread staff training in anti-racism so teachers and others understand the root causes of racial disparities in our state and our country: where they came from and how they are perpetuated. There are many local and national resources, including the Anti-Racism Training Institute of the Southwest, Laura Gomez’s book Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race and Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi.

Bernalillo County Democratic Ward 17B is holding a forum for all candidates via Zoom on October 10 between 2 and 3:30 pm.  Participants will be invited to ask their own questions in addition to those we have prepared.  The Zoom link for the events is  https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6UgWEiBuQyqdQepCgTqj0w

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This story is a staff report from The Paper.