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Courtney I. Jackson

District 7 Candidate: Courtney I. Jackson

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 board member for the APS Education Foundation.

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 want to be a board member of Albuquerque Public Schools because APS is a foundational piece of the future of our city, and I want to do my part to create a brighter future for our students.  Additionally, it is important that a parent with children attending APS has a voice in the decisions being made.  Parents’ voices, on behalf of our kids, have been left out of the process for far too long, and it is time that we were represented fairly, accurately, and equally to other interests.

What is your interest in education?

I have two daughters who are currently attending APS, and I want the best education possible for them and their fellow students.  Opportunity and success in life are often by-products of education, and every child in Albuquerque deserves the very best.  APS has struggled for too long and needs to prioritize student learning above all else.  It is time to elect people who will demand better for the education of our children and who will provide opportunity for them to become productive members of our community upon graduation.

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

I will support the mission and vision of the district by ensuring our families and community members are heard and represented in the Board of Education’s policy-making capacity.  We should all expect excellence and work to set ambitious goals for our kids as well as support teachers and staff in reaching them.  I will listen to and represent the opinions of parents about their children’s education, and I will partner with business and community leaders to ensure our schools are preparing tomorrow’s leaders so that our city can thrive.  I will hold myself, fellow board members and the superintendent to account if the mission, goals, and vision are not met. 

How will you work with the superintendent?

I will work with the superintendent in a collaborative manner with the understanding that we each have our roles.  It is incumbent upon the members of the Board of Education to provide clear guidance on policy directives, including measurable goals that are data driven, so that the superintendent can manage the directives and staff effectively to ensure our students are getting what they need from our school system. 

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

I attended APS schools, graduating from La Cueva High School in 1993.  My daughters have been enrolled in APS since 2013 when my oldest started kindergarten at Georgia O’Keeffe Elementary (GOK).  I am an active volunteer and PTA member, including service as PTA president for two (2) years at GOK.  I am also a current member of the APS Education Foundation whose mission is to “partner with the community to invest in innovative and enhanced learning opportunities to help APS students reach their full potential”.

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

The relationship between the superintendent and the Board of Education should be one of management (superintendent) and governance (Board of Education).  It is the role of the Board to set policy, and it is the role of the superintendent to implement the policy and ensure the efficient and effective operations of the school district.  It is also imperative that each oversee the proper use of education dollars so that the funding gets to the classroom where it belongs.

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

I excel at organizational management and working within a team structure to achieve common goals.  I am a parent who is willing to listen with empathy and understanding.  I have a long history of board leadership which gives me the essential skillset needed to set policy and parameters in order to govern and strategically plan for long term goals.  My desire to sit on the Board of Education is singular – to improve our education system – and not to serve as a stepping stone to another political position.    

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

My school and community volunteer activities are extensive.  The most relevant include: PTA member at GOK from 2013 to present;  PTA member at Eisenhower Middle School from 2019 to present;  PTA Board of Directors at GOK, including treasurer and president; Junior League of Albuquerque, including president in 2004-2005; Girl Scout Troop Leader from 2014 to present; and APS Education Foundation Board member 2020 to present.

How do you plan to work with constituents?

I will make myself available and be responsive to the constituents of my district, as well as those in other districts who have felt ignored for too long.  I plan to meet with each school in my district regularly, including administrators, teachers, and parents.  I plan to interact with the community regularly by attending events at the schools and providing an open line of communication to families.

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

The opportunities for the district are numerous. We have a diverse group of students all of whom will contribute to our community fabric; we have four (4) seats opening on the Board of Education which is an opportunity to institute real change within APS; there is a spotlight on the role of the school board like there never has been before which brings increased participation from our community; and we have a superintendent who has signaled a willingness to work with the constituents with the announcement of his listening tour. 

The challenges are present, as well, but can be addressed with new leadership.  APS is a large district with often differing goals depending on the zone; it produces dreadful academic outcomes each year; it has an inefficient structure and a top heavy administration; it currently has a Board of Education with a singular voice driving all decisions; and it has become too comfortable with mediocrity.  All of these challenges will be addressed, however, once I am elected to the Board of Education.

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.
    • APS needs to work more collaboratively with district charters to grow enrollment to meet family demand. APS has an incredibly vibrant and diverse community of students, and they need the opportunities to succeed in a 21st century economy.  Allowing for school choice programs­ – including open enrollment, charter schools and magnet schools – enhances quality, provides for the best interest of the students, infuses accountability into the system and provides educational opportunity where it might not have existed before.
  • 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.
    • In order to align the work of schools and departments to create a system of high-quality accountability for instruction, social, emotional and physical health and safety, the first step must be ensuring every staff member of APS from the district office to the school personnel understands the goals of the district and can clearly articulate their role in meeting those goals.
  • Albuquerque Public Schools will create a clear direction for efficient and effective operations to better serve students and improve staff morale.
    • For the most part, APS does a good job with managerial operations including food service and transportation. However, there is a glaring lack of accountability with the financial operations as the latest circumstances with Robotics Management Learning Systems highlights.  Increased oversight needs to be implemented in that regard.  I believe morale will improve when the public sees improved outcomes for both our student’s education statistics and better management of taxpayer dollars.
  • Albuquerque Public Schools will improve all modes of communications to better inform and engage the Albuquerque community invested in public education.
    • The modes of communication in place within the district are quite robust, as they include the APS The Core newsletter, the APS Dashboard maintained by SAPR, the district website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Peachjar for individual schools, communication from departments, including technology and special education, press releases and more.  The district does a great job of providing information. Communication can continue to be enhanced by electing members who are willing to interact more diligently with the community and by focusing the communication on the district’s progress toward widely understood and valued goals.  

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

As stated before, I excel at working within a team structure to achieve common goals, and I will work with the current board to set goals that are data driven. It is pivotal that the Board engages in healthy discussion but acts together with the best interests of students in mind.  Together, we can build upon their experience to effect change within our educational system.