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Emma Jones

District 5 Candidate: Emma Jones

Candidate Questions and Answers

Affiliations

Do you currently hold another public office?

No

Do you have any affiliations with the Albuquerque Public Schools?

Yes, I am a parent of a current APS middle school student, and have one child who will attend APS in the next 3 years

Availability

Are you available to attend board meetings on the first and third Wednesday nights of the month at 5:00 p.m. and special board meetings at additional times?

Yes

Additionally, there are five board committees that mostly meet once a month at 7:30 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., or 5:00 p.m. Are you available to attend all committee meetings? Board committees are committees of the whole, which means that all board members attend all committee meetings.

Yes

Periodically, the board must meet during daytime hours for board meetings, budget hearings, and luncheons. Are you available during daytime hours for these activities?

Yes

In addition to regularly scheduled meetings, the board minimally requires approximately 20-25 hours a week in reading, researching, miscellaneous meetings, school visits, telephone calls, and e-mail correspondence; many board members spend much more time than that. Can your schedule accommodate the extra time involved in serving as a member of the Board of Education?

Yes


Experience

Answers should be brief and concise.

Why do you want to be a board member for Albuquerque Public Schools?

I’m running because I have actively been following decisions at the board level for over a decade and have seen the impact these decisions have had in the classroom. I have also experienced some of these impacts as a former student.

As a homeless high school student while at APS, I faced poverty and food insecurity, and racial inequities, which led me to drop out of school. Fortunately, I was able to access services and get involved in my community, which changed my worldview, motivated me to be a part of creating solutions for my community, and helped me get back into school.

I graduated from Freedom High school in 2005, went on to attend the University of New Mexico, and became a mother in 2008. Since then, I have dedicated my entire career to education policy advocacy, community organizing, and uplifting the voices of youth and their families to be a part of decisions that impact their lives.

What is your interest in education?

Over the past 15 years I have been a dedicated education activist, advocate, and community organizer. I have worked with youth and their families to identify education policy issues that impact their lives and worked with them to develop a strategy for activism and advocacy. Through these experiences I have spent much of my time listening to students, their families, and teachers. I believe these experiences have prepared me to effectively uplift their voices on the board. I am also a mother of two children. My oldest is a middle school student in APS and my youngest will be in kindergarten with APS in 3 years. The educational experiences of my children only further fuels my passion and commitment to public education.

In what ways will you support the mission and vision of the district?

I will work with the board and superintendent to always prioritize the equitable support, safety, and wellbeing of students and teachers in the classroom. This includes putting aside political rhetoric to do what we must do for the best outcomes for students. How will this impact the classroom? What impact will that have on teachers? What impact will it have on students? These are all questions I will ask. Together we can uplift the mission and vision of the district and accomplish the academic goals of the district.

How will you work with the superintendent?

It is the board’s responsibility to hire the superintendent, as well as develop policy. I will work with the superintendent to create accountability measures, and to align and implement board policy. I am also willing to go above and beyond to achieve our collective goals, including advocating on a statewide level for things that uplift the district, teachers and most importantly APS students.

What is your past and current involvement with Albuquerque Public Schools?

I come from several generations of APS graduates. My son currently attends an APS School. From 2005-2006 I worked with the ENLACE statewide collaborative, where I served as a Los Companero mentor at Washington Middle, Garfield Middle, Valley High, and Highland High schools. In 2010 I served as co-chair on the APS redistricting committee that created my district, District 5, in order to ensure voices on the West Side of the city are being equally represented.  I worked with Families United for Education (FUE), a parent advocacy group, to develop the family engagement policy that was passed by APS board of education in 2012. FUE also effectively worked to bring ethnic studies to all APS high schools, and to champion the prioritization of anti-racism training for board members and school leaders in the district. During my time with the South West Organizing Project, and with the Learning Alliance of New Mexico, I worked with students to develop Voices In Action (VIA), a youth partnership with APS’s Office of Equity and Engagement. The VIA program is currently in several schools in the district and hosts an annual youth-led summit where students come together to identify policy issues they care about and present those to the board, superintendent, and zone leaders. I also have served on several committees, working groups, and have led professional development trainings on everything from equity, restorative justice, and school safety. Lastly, I served on the institutional councils at my child's school, I volunteered with Los Madres de Washington Middle school, and I have supported community schools coordinators in advocating and uplifting the amazing work of community schools. 

What should be the relationship between the superintendent and Board of Education?

Aside from the hiring of the superintendent, the board and superintendent should work collaboratively to align the policy, budget, and academic goals of the district to ensure we are supporting one another. We should also work diligently to ensure teachers' voices and community input are prioritized in all things we do with and for the district.

What qualities and skills would you bring to the Board of Education?

Working effectively with youth, restorative justice training, anti-racist education facilitation, strategic planning, budget oversight, fundraising, and policy development are skills I would bring to the Board of Education. I have a proven track record of successfully utilizing these skills in my 15 years working in the non-profit sector. I also have many creative talents that I would love to share with the district in any ways that are helpful to APS. More than any skill, I have the passion and commitment to education, social justice, and students that drives everything I do.

What school or community volunteer activities have you participated in related to the community?

I have been a part of many community efforts, related to education, but also on other social issues that I care about deeply. I currently sit on the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, in the out of school time group. I am currently a Precinct Chair, Ward Vice Chair, and member of the State Central Committee of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. I am also a legislative fellow for Strong Families, and a member of several non-profit organizations. Additionally, I have supported several youth organizations in the development of the organizational structure, strategic plans, and infrastructure to get them off the ground.

How do you plan to work with constituents?

I plan to do as much as possible to uplift the voices of my constituents and the people who spend the most time in the classrooms: teachers, administration, students, and their families. I already have a proven track record of doing this, but more personally, I know what it is like to run into roadblocks and closed doors when advocating on issues related to policy, and challenges that my child faces. My plan is to implement systems and communication efforts to prevent gatekeeping and ensure that no one is excluded. I will also host listening sessions periodically, (outside of board meetings), to have an open space to meet with my constituents.

What do you see as opportunities and challenges to the district?

I see the Yazzie-Martinez VS State of New Mexico decision as an opportunity for the district to model some of the amazing solutions that are coming out of recommendations from community advocacy groups (based on the lawsuit). I think APS’s academic goals are already very aligned with many of the proposed recommendations. As the largest district in the state, we can serve as a model for culturally and linguistically responsive learning, social-emotional learning, family engagement, bilingual education, and providing teachers with incentivized trainings, supports, and professional development opportunities to maintain an adequate teacher workforce where teachers are respected, valued as experts, and competitively compensated.

I think the biggest and most pressing challenge the district is currently facing is the pandemic. Inequity has always been a challenge that we have grappled with in the district, largely because of systemic issues in education that date back to colonialism. Boarding schools are a major example of that history that happened right here in our state. Those inequalities have been further uncovered throughout the pandemic. Lack of technology, internet access, social workers, and mental health support for students became even bigger challenges during the pandemic. We must do everything in our power to keep students, staff, and especially teachers who may be vulnerable to the virus safe. This includes listening to the science, providing PPE, and working to develop the best curriculum to support our students during remote learning while we navigate the pandemic.

What do you think is the best way for the district to accomplish the district’s goals?

  • Albuquerque Public Schools will provide equitable access and opportunity in a safe and supportive environment that addresses the individual needs of students.
  • Albuquerque Public Schools will align the work of schools and departments and create a system of high-quality accountability for instruction, social, emotional and physical health and safety.
  • Albuquerque Public Schools will create a clear direction for efficient and effective operations to better serve students and improve staff morale.
  • Albuquerque Public Schools will improve all modes of communications to better inform and engage the Albuquerque community invested in public education.

We cannot accomplish any of the above goals without the support or buy-in from teachers, staff, students, and families. As board members we must support the superintendent on implementation of these goals, listen to teachers and staff to identify challenges and opportunities to actualize these goals, and we must always value the concerns, challenges, and best practices identified by students and families. Beyond implementation, I think these goals are great, and am fully committed to putting in the work to ensure these goals are achieved. 

If elected, how will you work with the current board?

I believe collaboration is important; that every story and voice is a valuable asset. I want to model that in how I approach working with other board members. Listening to their stories, the stories of their constituents, and centering those stories when we develop policy that is equitable and inclusive.  

 

School Board Candidate Questionnaire for District 5 from The Paper

Q&A  APS Board District 5 Emma Jones from the Albuquerque Journal