New Mexico Education Secretary Skandera steps down

Hanna Skandera
Hanna Skandera

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Public Education Department confirms Secretary Hanna Skandera is resigning.

The news comes after more than six years on the job and a year-and-a-half before her boss, Governor Martinez leaves office. It’s been a rocky stint and Skandera has been a constant target of teachers and lawmakers.

However, Skandera said she stands behind everything she has done with the PED.

“When I think about not just the outcomes of what’s happened for our kids and moving up and seeing the progress, I also think we’ve changed the conversation about education. Before, I think it was a lot about adults, and today I think it’s about our kids,” Skandera said.

Republican Governor Susana Martinez appointed Skandera as the education leader when she took office in 2011, but Democrats wouldn’t confirm Skandera until 2015. She held the title “Secretary Designate” for years.

Skandera faced intense criticism for having no classroom experience. She also took a lot of heat for her teacher evaluations and focus on standardized testing.

KRQE News 13 spoke to Albuquerque Teachers Union President Ellen Bernstein and says she was surprised to learn of Skandera’s resignation but says she sees it as an opportunity for New Mexico.

“The governor can choose to take a new direction, a direction different from the one that has been demoralizing teachers and driving them out of the profession,” Bernstein said. “We can start working together right now towards common goals if Susana picks someone who respects the teachers, someone who works with us, someone who really cares about teachers’ need to do the best work in the classrooms.”

Yet, Skandera’s supporters, like Gov. Martinez, say the state is making great strides because of her reforms.

In a statement released Thursday, Martinez credits Skandera with boosting graduation rates and better preparing kids for college.

“New Mexico’s students and schools are better off today because of Secretary Skandera’s leadership and dedication… Since day one of my administration, she’s been relentlessly committed to helping us fight the status quo – like teachers unions and other entrenched special interests – to reform education and give our students, teachers, parents, and schools more of what they need to succeed.”

Skandera is set to leave June 20.

Deputy Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski will serve as acting secretary. He is a former social studies teacher and worked for the Delaware Department of Education.

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