Newly elected school board member speaks out

By Bill Knief

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One of the functions of the Taos Municipal School Board is to act as an advisory committee for UNM-Taos, so when I had a chance to talk to newly elected school board member Chuby Tafoya last week, I was curios as to what motivated him to run for a seat on the school board. Tafoya, Chairman of the Taos County Democratic Party, is a self employed general contractor with a wife and four children, ages five, six, eight and twelve. The youngest is in preschool, but the other three go to Taos Charter School, which is part of the Taos district, and I wondered why he wanted to be on the board.

“I have served on the governing board of the Taos Charter School for going on four years now,” he said, “and with that experience I could see some holes in the way that the district was being run. I thought the appropriate thing to do was to get involved. I didn’t think that the board was operating with a parent’s perspective in mind.”

I asked him to elaborate.

“All the problems we are having with the school system stem from an inability to communicate properly, and communication is the basis for any organization or any relationship’s growth. You can’t blame any one person or the school board itself or the administration, but it has become obvious that communication has broken down and it is detrimental to the system.

“From my experience at Taos Charter School, the best thing an organization can have is a very strong, intelligent, hard working, respectful leader that knows how to ask a lot of their staff, but also knows how to do it respectfully. That alone can foster a better sense of community within the school system. It gives the children an opportunity to thrive, and the teachers can take ownership over what they are doing, and be a part of planning the curriculum. When that happens the students become empowered to take something from their school experience. At the charter school the kids were scoring 30 percent higher than the state average and 50 percent above the district average. That’s huge, and a lot of the credit goes to parent involvement and the community atmosphere in the school, and all of this is fostered through good leadership and good communication.

“The school board is at the forefront of leadership. We set the tone. And right now there is a tone of mistrust, finger pointing and disrespect that trickles down to the classroom. That is unhealthy and it needs to change. It has to change. We have good staff, but does that staff have the proper tools? Do they have the guidance? What is our vision, what are our goals, and what steps do we have to take to accomplish those goals?

We are facing huge problems, but that’s when Taos comes together as a community. I’m nobody special but I feel I am a level headed, reasonable person and when I have to, I can put my foot down and point out inappropriate behavior—but not in a disrespectful manner.”


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