Hanna Skandera confirmed as PED Secretary

Hanna Skandera
Hanna Skandera

SANTA FE (KRQE) – Hanna Skandera has finally been confirmed as New Mexico’s Education Secretary. The senate voted 22 to 19 to make it happen.

That decision came down in front of a packed senate gallery Monday. It’s the first time the decision has gone to the full senate for a vote. Monday morning, the Senate Rules Committee voted 5-4 her confirmation to move her confirmation forward. Before that, though, there were plenty of jabs being thrown around.

“I don’t think we should be telling teachers what to do,” Democratic Sen. Michael Sanchez said to Skandera. “I don’t think you should be telling teachers what to do personally, madam chair, secretary designate. I don’t think you should.”

Since her appointment by Governor Susana Martinez in 2011, she is always held the title secretary designate. The democrat-controlled senate has always refused to even vote on her confirmation.

She is faced criticism for her controversial teacher evaluations, focus on standardized testing and lack of classroom experience.

“The secretary designate for PED is not qualified for the job,” said Angela Reynolds, a teacher with 25 years of experience at Albuquerque Public Schools. “The state constitution says that she must be a qualified educator. She is not a qualified educator. She does not have the experience as a teacher.”

In New Mexico, she’s been hammered by educators for her teacher evaluation system and focus on standardized testing.

“Our students have been victims of horrific educational policies for the last three and half years she’s been in office,” Trish Ruiz, a councilor with Hobbs Municipal Schools said.

Those in support of Skandera say change was needed and her reforms are working.

“I will work with our communities across our state to continue deliver on the possibility that can be realized for every single student, regardless of their background and that we will see successes that we have not seen before,” Skandera said to the packed committee room.

The state senate has toyed with Skandera’s confirmation the past four years, grilled her at times, and voted her down when it’s made it to a vote. This is the first time her confirmation has gone to the full Senate.

“I can tell you one thing, it’s about time,” Republican Sen. Stuart Ingle said after the decision. “Five years is long enough. I’ve been here 31 years and I’ve never seen a confirmation take this long.”

Santa Fe Public Schools board president Steven Carrillo was at the hearing. He spoke out on behalf of himself, not the district.

“This comes down to the fact that she’s the governor’s appointee and we need to respect the office,” Carrillo said. “It’s been four years and I think we need to allow Ms. Skandera to serve another four years.”

Teacher Rally

The American Federation of Teachers rallied at the Roundhouse Monday as the hearing was taking place. Many people echoed similar feelings for Skandera in that she isn’t the right person for the job.

“I’m not teaching!” Montezuma Elementary teacher Shelly Rose said. “I’m testing! We just keep testing these little kids that are 5 and 6-years-old. It’s ridiculous these kids need help. They need a teacher. They don’t need a test or an administrator.”

This is mostly symbolic for Skandera to get rid of the designate tag once and for all. The senate can’t oust her.

Skandera served as Florida’s Deputy Commissioner of Education under former Gov. Jeb Bush. She also served as a senior policy adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Education.

Enrique C Knell, the spokesperson for Governor Susana Martinez, released the following statement:

The Governor is pleased with the vote today and is thankful this marks an end to the four-year efforts of some to obstruct this process.

Reforming education, and improving the ability of our kids to learn, is critical to the future of our state.

The Governor, and the Secretary, will continue to put the needs and achievement of our students first, as we work to improve their opportunities for success in life.


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