Letter To The Editor: Why Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard Should Continue Serving Our House District 43

Los Alamos

I want to share why I will be voting for Stephanie Garcia Richard to continue serving as our State Representative.

The good news is that both candidates, Stephanie and Sharon Stover, are dedicated public servants who clearly care about children and youth and building a more vibrant economy that benefits everyone.

However, there are three major reasons why I think a vote for Stephanie is a vote to support our teachers and improve education and a vote for Sharon is a vote to support our Governor’s current education policies that denigrate our teachers and hurt our students.

First, Stephanie has demonstrated that she is an effective legislator who can deliver on education and economic development issues important to our community by being able to work across the aisle to form bipartisan compromises. I have always found Stephanie open and inquisitive.  She is not only willing to listen but willing to alter her position based on what she’s learned.

Second, Stephanie brings the perspective of a classroom teacher to the Legislature. She served as a Science Literacy Coach as part of the Inquiry Science Education Consortium sponsored by the LANL Foundation. Stephanie understands the implications of recent research on human brain development for how to create a student-centered learning environment that supports all students in developing their full potential. This is a critical perspective to have in the Legislature, as improving our State educational system is essential for improving the economy and quality of life for all New Mexicans. 

In July, I saw Stephanie in action when the Legislative Educational Study Committee held hearings at the Los Alamos High School on the State’s plans to implement the new Federal legislation governing primary and secondary education, the Every Student Succeeds Act. The Committee was clearly not happy with the presentations from the Public Education Department (PED), which took the position that New Mexico was in great shape as it was compliant with the legislation. The Committee members, including Stephanie, were very frustrated as the State was eschewing the opportunity to use the flexibility under the legislation to improve our educational system including moving to more effective ways to evaluate teachers and students. The Committee Chair, Dennis Roch, a Republican, formed a subcommittee to work with the PED on the implementation. He asked Stephanie to serve on the subcommittee, reflecting the positive reputation she has among her peers in both parties.

The ill-considered approach that PED is taking to the Every Student Succeeds Act is consistent with the actions that they have taken on evaluating teachers, which have continued to demoralize them, divert their attention from the classroom, and in many cases drive them to retire early or leave the profession. The Governor and the Secretary of PED have not been responsive to the cries from Los Alamos and communities across New Mexico to treat our teachers better. 

This leads me to the third and perhaps most important reason why I support Stephanie. The Governor supports Sharon Stover as is shown in Sharon’s campaign material. Unfortunately, a vote for Sharon will be interpreted by the Governor as a vote of support for her misguided educational policies. We cannot afford that. Please vote with us for Stephanie Garcia Richard and send a clear message to the Governor and the Secretary of PED that we support our teachers and want them involved in improving our State’s educational system. I’m tired of being at the bottom when compared to other states and I hope you are, too.