The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By CNJ Staff 

Board member set for state term


September 24, 2006

Lora Harlan is a veteran member of the Clovis Municipal Schools Board of Education.

She has served on the board as a representative of District 3 for more than 15 years.

Harlan, 59, resides in Clovis with her husband, Tom.

As a Clovis native, she has firsthand knowledge of Clovis Schools, as she was educated in them.

She left Clovis in 1977, while her husband pursued a degree at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas. She returned to Clovis in 1989.

She has two grown daughters and two sons-in-law. She works part-time at a local bookstore.

In December 2005, Harlan was elected to serve as the president of the New Mexico School Boards Association. Her one-year term begins this December.

Q: What compelled you to serve on the Board of Education?

A: We moved back to Clovis in 1989. I had been substitute teaching and was looking for an avenue in this community to serve students and be involved in their education. When the school board elections came up, I thought this might be one way to do that. The rest is history.

Q: Why do you want to serve as president of the NMSBA?

A: New Mexico School Boards Association (NMSBA) is the uplink that connects all local school boards in New Mexico. I served for a number of years on their board of directors. The organization advocates for local districts, and helps lobby the legislature for common concerns that affect local districts and thus all students. The primary goal is providing the best education in the best conditions to all students in New Mexico. I chose to run for office and represent students in Clovis, Eastern New Mexico and across the state in these endeavors. It also gives me the opportunity to represent New Mexico at the National School Boards Association and speak on our behalf. It is a 5-year process and the presidency is year four.

Q: What are your goals as the president of the NMSBA?

A: My goals will be to advocate for children in our public schools, to share success stories from around the state and to work for stronger local control.

Q: What is the biggest dilemma confronting education today, in your opinion?

A: Change does not come easily or quickly. Educating today’s student is no exception. We must give students the tools and abilities to interact in a global community and do it in an atmosphere that understands the societal dynamic we live in.

Q: How has education changed since you first began on the board?

A: Several things come to mind that have had a significant impact. One is technology. It is not just a class, but a method of teaching across the curriculum. It is imperative that students become proficient in the digital age in order to function at almost every job available. Another is the number of demands in testing that are being made of local districts from both the state and national level. I agree we need to be accountable, but am not sure that standardized tests are the only way to measure progress. A third is the erosion of local autonomy from the board to make decisions. Much of our authority has been legislated and regulated away.

Q: H.R. 5709, or the No Child Left Behind Improvements Act, would revise 40 provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. Do you support H.R. 5709, and if so, why?

A: The No Children Left Behind Act has had four years of implementation. During that time school districts across the country have identified many unintended consequences. In conjunction with National School Board Association research, H.R. 5709 addresses the need for greater flexibility in addressing the unique needs of all students. The goals of NCLB to close the achievement gap and increase accountability are right on target. However, some of the measuring criteria draw inaccurate conclusions about student performance and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). I support the Improvements Act and believe the results will share a more accurate picture of student performance with our parents and communities.

Q: Several educational associations are lobbying for 50 percent of all new money to be allotted to schools in the 2007 Legislature. Do you support this 50 percent formula for education funding, and if so, why?

A: Yes, I support this initiative. The New Mexico Education Partners recommend that at least 50 cents of every dollar in the new General Fund Revenue be spent on public schools by the 2007 New Mexico Legislature.

For many years schools have simply asked that we be funded for all educational mandates, such as: Full-day kindergarten, lowered class sizes, increased contribution to Educational Retirement, alternative educational opportunities, increased teacher salaries and dramatic increases in special education programs. Because these programs have been unfunded or only partially funded, school budgets have had to absorb their costs into an already stretched budget. I believe the programs and services to students are vital but need the cooperation and support of legislators to provide monies to cover their costs.

Q: If you could change one thing in Clovis Municipal Schools, what would it be and why?

A: It pleases me to say that because of an ever evolving Strategic Plan, administrators with vision, a strong team of educators and tremendous community support, CMS is a moving, changing organism that is proactive and very often on the cutting edge of providing the best we can for students. I cannot think of any one item to identify for change, but rather honor the process that strives to meet the needs of all students on a continuing basis.

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

A: I enjoy reading and traveling.

— compiled by CNJ staff writer Marlena Hartz


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