Democratic candidate for House District 43 Chris Chandler discusses her position on education at Saturday’s American Legion candidates forum. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
House Representative candidate for District 43 and Los Alamos County Council vice chair Chris Chandler was first to speak at Saturday’s American Legion candidates forum. She told attendees she has been taking a lot about education in her campaign because she thinks right now it’s a critical issue for the state.
“The education system has been determined to be inadequate and we are not meeting our constitutional obligation to provide an adequate education in this state. I believe it’s critical for the New Mexico Legislature to take that on as the primary issue in this upcoming session,” she said
She said it’s not the only session at which education will need to be addressed – that’s it’s a long-term problem that the legislature will have to deal with probably over the next 10 years.
“There is not adequate funding in the public schools and we need to increase funding so that we can pay our teachers a living and fair salary. We need to lower class sizes in schools. We need to improve on teacher mentoring programs. I have a long list of things we need to be working on which have all been identified by professional educators,” Chandler said. “We need to be working with the professionals to improve the system, not dictating solutions from the administration based on what other states have done and has now been proven to be unsatisfactory.”
She gave the example of the PARCC testing system brought in by the state.
“I think right now it has been determined that PARCC testing was actually a detriment to our children’s ability to learn because we’re taking so much time out of the classroom for testing and using the test results in a way that was not intended,” Chandler said. “We need to be focusing on what’s going on in the classroom, improving funding for teachers and activities in the classroom.”
She said there needs to be an increase in vocational programs for New Mexico students and that there’s a way to do that through the two-year colleges by improving on the higher education formula to where there’s adequate funding to improve vocational education.
“For example, UNM-LA has excellent vocational programs but they need additional support. Right now, UNM-LA takes high school students in the dual-credit program and it allows high school students to take not only academic programs but technical training programs. What we need to do is ensure that there’s adequate funding to support the high school training programs,” Chandler said.
In response to a question from the audience, Chandler said a one-percent increase in Internet tax has been discussed to support public education initiatives including pre-K and early childhood programs.
“Pre-K has been shown to improve a child’s ability to be successful and so I support that especially for disadvantaged kids who don’t have some of the opportunities that middle class and upper middle class children have for enrichment programs and such,” she said.