BY LISA SHIN
Republican Candidate For House District 43
I am responding to Councilor Chandler’s mailer that calls me an “extreme ideologue who will hurt public schools.” First of all, as a mom, I am thrilled to have a daughter who two grade levels above her peers. Teachers reported she is also well-rounded, gets along well with others, and has a sense of humor. Why would I want to hurt a system that is working so well for her?
Secondly, my 21+ experience as a small business owner and health care provider has also given me “the ability to listen, interest in learning and studying an issue, and the ability to collaborate and compromise.” I am not an ideologue, but a pragmatist and a realist. An adherent of a rigid and uncompromising dogma would fail as an entrepreneur. The ability to work well with many different vendors, employees, and customers is essential for business growth. A business-minded approach to decision-making and masterful negotiating skills have been the keys to my success.
1. In the editorial that is referenced in this mailer, “Why I Support School Vouchers“, Kiwanian Paul Cunningham asked the candidates specifically about school vouchers. At the conclusion of the editorial, I admit, “Our State Legislature would most likely not pass school voucher laws. However we could support more charter schools, and look at educational savings accounts.” In rural communities, schools are underfunded and struggle with limited resources. An educator in Cuba, NM, told me point blank that a voucher program would likely worsen, not improve the situation. But the Lindrith Area Heritage School and Walatowa High Charter School have served their students and their communities well.
2. I explained in my editorial, “LAMS ‘D’ Grade from An Education Czar,” that public education is getting further and further away from the people. The recent PED lawsuit proves this fact. The campaign mailer states, “Lisa Shin continuing Susana Martinez’s reckless agenda.” Wrong. Our Governor was solid on fiscal issues, but she “missed an opportunity to bring lasting and necessary reforms to our state’s education.” The core of the problem was an “education czar” with absolute power over the state school system. She was out of touch with our teachers, parents, and students, and imposed a system that worked in Florida, to New Mexico. We need to return to a State Education Commission. At least 10 members elected from New Mexico’s Districts would have varying policy stances. This would ensure more representation and input across our State.
If elected as State Rep, I would put forth legislation similar to the Senate Joint Resolution 2, to revive a state school board. This proposal was tabled in 2017.
3. The mailer states, “Lisa Shin has attacked in writing expanding pre-K.” If you read the article referenced here, “No Need for Financial Pain to Expand Pre-K,” you can see that this is not true. I said, “With some common sense, creativity, collaboration, and better use of existing resources, we can expand pre-K in a way that is effective and financially sustainable.” Another grade for every school is simply not realistic and practical in rural communities that cannot recruit qualified teachers and lack the necessary infrastructure and resources for their existing K-12 program. Let’s not force 700+ private pre-schools to close their doors, and instead, build on what we have.
More recently, there has been a “breakthrough federal initiative in early care and education.” The Preschool Development Grants Birth Through Five will provide $1 billion over four years in competitive grants to help states strengthen networks of existing early care and education, both public and private. If elected as State Rep, I would ensure that our Governor and Legislature tap into such federal funds to improve the “growth, development, and school readiness of low-income and disadvantaged children by increasing their participation in high-quality early learning programs from infancy to kindergarten entry.”
4. Teachers feel demoralized with over-testing, administrative requirements, and impossible expectations. One teacher told me, “I cannot make up for a child who is 4 grades behind in reading proficiency.” Senator Morales has proposed using our “scarce public dollars for proven methods of bettering education: small class sizes, more professional development for educators, more books, librarians, nurses, counselors, and instructors for art, dance, and music” over PARCC testing. I explained my stance in the editorial, “PARCC: Parents have the final say.”
As with health care, there is no simple fix for the problem of poor education. A resident in Jemez Springs told me, “parents and teachers have both stopped caring about educating our children, so more money doesn’t help.” Indeed, without strong parental engagement, responsibility and accountability, our kids won’t succeed.