In Case You Missed It! Governor-Elect’s PED Selection A Bold Choice

In Case You Missed It!

Governor-Elect’s PED Selection A Bold Choice

December 24, 2010
The Albuquerque Journal

Nibbling around the edges is fine for folks watching their weight at a holiday party. For taxpayers and parents hungry for education reform, not so much.

That makes Gov.-elect Susana Martinez’s selection for state education secretary all the more significant and in keeping with the governor elect’s campaign promises. Hanna Skandera helped Florida take a big bite out of its achievement gap and improve the number of proficient readers by 20 percent.

As deputy commissioner of education for then-Gov. Jeb Bush from 2005-07, Skandera was on board when Florida decided to do more than simply throw money at its schools problem and expect change. Instead, it assigned schools A-F grades based on student performance, held back third-graders who hadn’t learned to read, increased teacher training, reduced class sizes, added about 2,000 reading coaches and gave vouchers and other choices to certain students.

Meanwhile, New Mexico “increased the state budget by $758 million and we’re still 49th in the nation,” Martinez said this week, in reference to national achievement rankings.

Former Education Secretary Veronica Garcia deserves credit for laying the data groundwork that will be vital for Skandera to build on.

Martinez says she “was looking for someone with a proven record of reforming failing schools … someone who can challenge the status quo.”

There is no question systemic changes are needed — and not just here. A report released Tuesday shows nearly one-fourth of students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam.

Of course Skandera will need to listen to teachers and work with them. But if all the stakeholders commit to doing what it takes to put student results first — rather than hunkering down for a long-term fight — our kids will be the winners.

To view The Albuquerque Journal editorial, click here.