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. There are three candidates running for the Albuquerque Public School Board in District 5. Crystal Tapia-Romero did not respond to the questionnaire. To find your APS district visit aps.edu
The Paper.: Please introduce yourself.
Uche Maria Ohiri: I am running for the APS Board of Education because I believe public education is a fundamental human right. I want to be a board member to help our schools improve graduation rates, make our schools safer places for our children, and ensure our educators have every resource available to succeed. I am a strong Democrat, a healthcare professional, a proud mother of two adult children and a 24-year member of my Westside ABQ community!
Emma Jones: I’m running because I have actively been following decisions at the board level for over a decade, both professionally and as a parent of an APS student. I am the only parent with children who are in APS schools. I have seen first hand how the decisions at the board impact the classroom. I have also experienced some of these impacts as a former student. This is more than about building power for me, this is about my children’s livelihood, this is about my community.
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?
Ohiri: As a nurse practitioner, I’ve seen ow devastating COVID-19 pandemic has been to our communities. I understand the science behind the vaccines and know that they work. Once the vaccines are approved for all APS-aged students, I would be open to some sort of mandate that is fair and equitable.
Jones: While I think we should require adults to show proof of vaccine, I think it is unfair to punish students for being unable to get the vaccine. As a child I remember being punish for my parents issues, and it was unfair. I think we should do our best to dispel the misinformation behind the science of the vaccine, and highly encourage our families to take their children to vaccinated, but we should not punish students for being unavailable to get the vaccine.
Should Albuquerque Public Schools have its own police department?
Ohiri: I want to ensure our students can learn in a safe environment & that tragedies like the one that occurred at Washington MS are not repeated, but I recognize that more police are not the solution. As a black woman I have a fear of police and fear for my black sons if they ever interface with police. I believe School Resource Officers should have limited & defined roles in our schools. We should not rely on them to carry out disciplinary action outside of keeping our children safe from violence.
Jones: No, this is something I have long been opposed to. APS is in the business of educating children, not running a police department. Who would oversee this department, the board? The superintendent? Who would train the officers? How would it be funded? Currently APS sends several million dollars a year on policing, on top of MOUs with APD and BCSO, and we are suppose to be committed to learning restorative justice. The last thing we need is a full fledged police department, when our schools are failing.
How should APS teach students about New Mexico’s diverse cultural history and its legacies of colonization, discrimination, and inequity?
Ohiri: I believe that we must teach honest, transparent history in our schools, no matter how painful it is. We must teach our children the truth behind our difficult past so that they become well-rounded citizens and do not repeat the histories of our past. In my native Nigeria, schools currently do not teach about the Nigerian civil war in an attempt to hide this dark history. This does a disservice to our students and we should never allow this type of whitewashing of history to occur here in ABQ.
Jones: APS should commit to multicultural and multilingual curriculum and instruction. We currently have some bright spot example of this in the district such as the dual language and bilingual seal programs, but we must take this further by committing to age appropriate ethnic studies curriculum, and utilizing curriculum that uplifted the diverse cultures and languages of our community. We must also commit to anti-racist training for all admin and staff at APS.
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