Salary: $0 (It’s a volunteer position.) • Term: Four years • Tasks: To advise the secretary of education. The PEC can authorize charter schools • District: From the Alameda area on the north to the Sunport on the south, and from the river on the west to Uptown on the east. It also includes some of Paradise Hills and Eagle Ranch on the Westside.
Carmie Lynn Toulouse (D)
Gov. Bill Richardson stripped the PEC of most of its power, and its role hasn't been well-defined since. Toulouse sees that as a problem that needs solving: “It’s time to make it constructive or get rid of it in the [state] Constitution.” After decades working at the Human Services Department, Toulouse served on CNM's governing board. If elected to the PEC, she says she'll build one-on-one relationships with parents and other commission members, as well as with Public Education Department staff and Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera. Toulouse thinks charter schools need stronger oversight and that the secretary of education should have classroom experience, which Skandera doesn’t. Standards are important, she says, but forcing struggling kids to stay in third grade doesn't help. Instead, “we need to identify and intervene earlier.”Toulouse doesn’t mince words about the public school letter-grading system trumpeted by the governor and Skandera: “It’s bull.” She adds that we need consistent ways of measuring schools that aren't so open to manipulation.
Toulouse’s opponent, Democratic write-in candidate Vanessa Gutierrez, only listed an email address as contact information. We received no response to repeated requests for an interview and therefore can’t endorse her. She told the League of Women Voters that she’s an education activist, and the state budget should be re-allocated toward resources and teachers. Regardless, we feel great about endorsing Toulouse. She's knowledgeable about the challenges facing the PEC, in particular that the executive branch ground down the commission’s teeth. Toulouse presents herself as an outspoken advocate for the best interests of both students and teachers in the public school system. It’s important that the PEC act as a well-reasoned check and balance on the partisan, often outsized influence the executive branch has on the Public Education Department, and Toulouse would represent a step in that direction.
p.s. As we tried to figure out the boundaries of this district, it became apparent how little weight this commission has. The map online doesn’t explain much and is pretty hard to read. Several sources at the Public Education Department tried to help but couldn’t. Michael Canfield, who sits in the D3 seat today, didn’t know the boundaries of his own district. Finally, we were directed to the Secretary of State’s Office, which was able to help.