Recently it has been reported that New Mexico ranks 49th in childhood well being in the nation and 50th in educational outcomes. Things are not good in the Land of Enchantment.
Even Los Alamos Public Schools has struggled over the last 19 months of Covid shutdowns, crisis schooling, and in trying to return to normal. My own children have slipped significantly since March 2020 and struggle every day to re-learn, learn and remember their lessons. We have so much work to do to in our families and our schools to get our kids caught up and recovered from the COVID disruption.
This is why our school board election this year is so important. As the race for school board heats up, we need to ask ourselves individually and as a community what we want from our board and its members. With four of the five seats open, it is imperative that our board members be qualified, informed, and focused on the real issues facing LAPS.
However, it seems like a few of the school board candidates and their surrogates have veered away from the actual issues our schools face, into just talking about sexual and identity politics. If you were to gauge what the needs of Los Alamos Public Schools are by only reading letters to the editor you’d think the only problem facing our schools surround those of LGBT identifying students.
I don’t want to minimize the struggles of these kids, because they are real struggles, but there are a lot of students with a variety of issues in our schools which also need our attention: kids with eating disorders, kids in abusive relationships, kids from broken homes, kids from traditional homes, religious kids, atheist kids, kids with learning disabilities, the kids who hide in plain sight, the kids who just want to be kids, kids with addictions and substance abuse problems, kids who are engaging in self-harm (cutting, etc), kids who are bullied by their peers, kids who are bullied by their teachers, kids who are disruptive, kids who are shy and might lack social skills and confidence, and the list could go on to infinity. Are their needs not important to our school board and the district?
I would like to see candidates focus on helping all of our students and teachers recover from COVID learning loss, picking a new superintendent, choosing balanced and quality curriculum materials that will benefit all students, and helping LAPS develop strategies for better communication and more transparency between teachers and parents; not “education and information…about what it means to explore gender and sexual identity”.
Conversations about morality, relationships, sexuality, and sexual and gender identities are the stewardship of parents and should be left to the parents to be discussed in the safety and structure of the home. To my fellow parents, please have those hard conversations with your kids, they need to be taught by you. Be their first stop when difficult questions arise. Going forward let’s focus on the issues at hand and leave the identity politics at the door.