Erhard emphasizes education, employment

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Democratic U.S. House of Representatives candidate Evelyn Madrid Erhard recently set time aside to speak to El Defensor Chieftain about her 2012 campaign. Erhard is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Pearce.

Born in Española, Erhard has lived in Doña Ana County most of her life. She has worked as a technical writer for Los Alamos National Labs, though much of her work has been as a teacher. She has taught communication, critical thinking and composition at New Mexico State University and Doña Ana Community College. She has not held public office before.

Erhard said that in her time in Socorro County she has heard a lot of locals raising concerns related to the environment and to conservation of national resources.

“People want to know that I’m going to protect our environment,” she said. “Steve Pearce is not a person who has been an advocate for our environment and natural resources.”

More generally, Erhard says she plans to focus on the issues that “keep coming up” in dialog with her constituents. Specifically, she listed jobs, healthcare and education, as well as human and civil rights.

“People have been talking about jobs for years, and we could see it happening over a 30-year period, (as) jobs went overseas,” she said. “Any kinds of jobs that remained, corporations have put people to part-time work, so people in the last couple of decades have been working two, three part-time jobs to make ends meet, and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of hope for people . . . It’s an issue all over the United States.”

When asked why so many jobs have been going overseas, she said laws favor corporations, and corporations thus find it easier to exploit people from other countries.

“Those laws that easily let corporations go overseas, those are laws that can change.”

Regarding healthcare, she is a proponent of the Affordable Care Act.

“I want to see the Affordable Care Act tweaked, and I want to see it eventually being a single-payer system,” she said. “By doing so, we’ll be joining England, we’ll be joining Canada, we’ll be joining a whole slew of countries that already have single-payer systems.”

As it stands, the United States is the only first-world country without a single-payer healthcare system.

“This is what most Americans wanted: to take the middle-man out of their healthcare, take the insurance companies out of the middle of their healthcare. It would save an awful lot of money to do it that way.”

As a former teacher, Erhard considers education to be very important and would support increasing state and federal funding for schools. She is also an opponent of the No Child Left Behind program established by former President George W. Bush.

“How it used to be is that you would start a school year, test students to see where they were at, and then you could plan your teaching schedule around that, and then would take another test at the end of the year to see what skills they were exiting with,” she said. “And now, they just finish a test, they’re learning how to take the next test, and it just goes on and on and on. What they’re missing with that is critical thinking skills – the kinds of things you would learn if you weren’t learning how to take a standardized test.”

Erhard said she feels that longer-term student ability and progress measured by tests at either end of the school year would be more indicative of a teacher’s abilities than the existing system of standardized testing.

For more information about Erhard’s campaign, go to www.evelynforcongress.com.