Hannah Skandera Booted From Consideration As DeVos Assistant

03/26/2017 10:54 pm ET Updated Mar 27, 2017
New Mexico Commissioner of Education Hanna Skandera
Huffington Post
New Mexico Commissioner of Education Hanna Skandera

According to Politico’s March 23, 2017, Morning Education, controversial New Mexico education commissioner Hannah Skandera will not be joining US ed sec Betsy DeVos in DC as assistant education secretary. (Note: A December 2016 Politico Pro article had Skandera under consideration for “deputy secretary or undersecretary.”)

The reason? Republicans are spooked by Skandera’s ties to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS):

the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education may still be up for grabs after the Trump administration recently reversed plans to nominate New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera for the assistant secretary job, POLITICO has learned. The administration’s decision to pull back an offer came after Republicans raised concerns about Skandera’s support for the Common Core standards. The offer appears to have been extended before Hill Republicans were consulted.

“About a dozen Republican offices were skeptical that they could ever vote yes” on Skandera because of her embrace of the standards, said a senior GOP aide. … Skandera, who sits on the governing board for the Common Core-aligned PARCC test, declined to comment.

Skandera not only “sits” on the PARCC governing board; she is the board chair, and under clandestine circumstances: PARCC did not formally offer a press release concerning Skandera’s replacing Massachusetts ed commissioner Mitchell Chester as PARCC chair. However, the PARCC website has Skandera listed as PARCC chair since January 2016.

The March 23, 2017, Politico article continues by referring to Skandera’s supposed “extensive K-12 and higher education experience” making her “a good bet for a federal job.” Given that DeVos’ only K12 experience appears to be mentoring some students who attended “public school” (no specifics provided as of yet beyond this DeVos talking point), Skandera might appear to be “experienced.” However, Politico glosses right over the fact that the New Mexico senate took four years to confirm Skandera because of the sticking point that the New Mexico constitution requires its ed commissioner to be a “qualified, experienced educator.”

According to Skandera’s New Mexico’s Public Ed Department (PED) bio, Skandera began above the classroom as a Hoover Institute fellow and continued floating above any substantial K12 experience as undersecretary of education in california under former Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger. She continued her float to the US Department of Ed (G.W. Bush admin) and then headed for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s state department of ed as commissioner.

In Skandera’s case, it seems that being (again) catapulted to the top in New Mexico was enough to finally gain her a close confirmation. (The vote was 22-19.)

So, even though DeVos and Skandera both share close confirmation votes (DeVos’ was historical; 50-50 with VP Mike Pence breaking the tie), Skandera’s continued CCSS affiliation has her on the outs as a DC comrade for DeVos.

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Originally posted 03-24-17 at deutsch29.wordpress.com.

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

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