BY CHRISTINE BERNSTEIN
Los Alamos Public Schools Board Member
As we near the next school board meeting, I find myself reflecting on the current news from our Governor about starting back to school.
The last time this was on the table there were a lot of discussions and assumptions made as to how I might vote, about my recusal, about where I stand. I was accused of making a decision to benefit myself, I was asked to resign and to quit my business. No one asked me what I thought, what I believed or what I would actually do. No one tried to talk to me, only tell me what to do. Actually, I am wrong, one person actually asked me and had a conversation with me.
I figure now is the time for transparency. I would like to avoid speculation and assumptions. So, I am here to let the community know where I stand and what my own personal thoughts are as a community member, a parent, an educator, a business owner and an elected official.
I am all for school in any format that will help our students feel safe and allow them strong learning opportunities. I have been in a position working with small numbers of students as well as my own children to see what school looks like right now. I have spoken with students, parents and teachers and have received numerous emails. There is no one answer or one prevalent opinion. I have been listening.
When I ran for school board and took the position my intent was and continues to be to listen and to support decision-making that will benefit learning for our students. That has been and always will be my bottom line- what is best for kids. Of course, we may all have differing opinions about what is best, but I am listening.
I started my business to help families and kids. I knew that teaching online was going to be a miserable experience for a lot of people and I wanted to find ways to make it at least tolerable for some. Including myself. I knew I needed to do something different.
I am not concerned about the business. However, I am concerned about the youth in our community. There are some days that I cry for them, and others when I laugh with them. And I always advocate for them. I have been and always will be an advocate for kids. It is who I am and it is my purpose.
When I ask them if they want to go back to the classroom they say yes, when I ask why they say, “Because I want to see my friends.” It has nothing to do with learning.
I know a lot of people will disagree with me and say “It doesn’t matter what the kids think…we know what they need, they’re just kids” In a town where we worry about suicide, I do think it matters what they think. I do think they deserve to be heard.
And I am listening.
I made a promise to myself when I ran for this office. I promised myself that I would remain ethical and act with integrity. And I continue to make that choice every day. And I will make that choice in my role as a school board member.
I spoke with the assistant attorney general. I was told I am doing nothing illegal, however there could be the perception that I am acting to benefit myself financially. If anyone perceives that, feel free to come at me. I believe that when we do the right thing, we win.
I have done nothing wrong. I am acting ethically. I have not used my position for financial gain. I will act on the interest of our kids and teachers.
I plan on keeping my business going. It may mean I make changes to meet a new and different need for our youth. I love what I am doing. I love the kids I work with. I do not fear change. I have other ideas brewing that I will pursue. I will continue to act ethically and with integrity. That being said. I plan on voting. I am listening, keep talking.
I encourage you to speak with me. Ask me questions. Bring me your concerns and fears and even your opposition. I am always up for a good debate. All I ask is do not assume what I think or what I will do. Just ask me.