Skandera steps down

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The New Mexico Public Education Department confirmed Thursday morning (June 8) that New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera has indeed announced her resignation after nearly seven years in the position. Her time as the state's education secretary will end June 20.

Governor Susanna Martinez nominated Skandera to be leader of the department in 2010, though she was not confirmed by the New Mexico Senate until February of 2015 in a 22-19 vote. Skandera worked under the title of Secretary-designate in the intervening years.

During her time as secretary, Skandera advocated for school choice and even overturned the Public Education Commission's decision to deny a charter for Taos International School. In September of 2012, the commission voted 8-1 to deny the charter. However, charter applicant Nadine Vigil appealed their decision, which was reversed by Skandera. The matter was taken to district court and the charter was granted to the school in 2013.

"Our students and families...deserve high quality choices and I have been very outspoken that I think we should close charter schools who do not deliver on the promise of a great education for students or who are not managing tax payer dollars well and we have closed a few and we certainly have not renewed some of our charters and I think there are more that we should be asking those tough questions," said Skandera in an interview with The Taos News.

Of her time in the position, Skandera said that though the state has made strides for improvement and has "stayed the course," the work is never fully finished when concerning students and their education.

"We have unprecedented progress in our state," Skandera said. "We have a lot of work still to do, but unprecedented progress. I am truly proud and humbled to have served our state. I love this state and I am excited for all that's ahead."

Deputy Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski has been appointed by Martinez to fill in as Acting Secretary of Education, according to Skandera. 

"I brought him and hired him at the department because of his unwavering commitment, passion and courage to the fundamental belief that every child should and can learn and get the best education possible," Skandera said.

For more on this story see the June 15 edition of The Taos News

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