Tuesday, February 15, 2011

AFT’s Trujillo Goes Parochial Over Skandera’s Education Consultants

Thinking she needed some fresh eyes and high powered talent to get started attacking New Mexico’s public school mess, Hanna Skandera, secretary-designate of the public education department, hired some consultants, most with ties to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who also is Skandera’s former boss. Skandera might be considered a bit politically tone deaf for the consultant hire for $152,000, given the state’s financial situation. But at least she used money made available by dumping exempt (i.e. political) employees from the Richardson administration. The Albuquerque Journal’s February 13 story did mention this fact, but not until the 12th paragraph.
The consultants, called The Public Education Department’s Advisory Team, were announced in a department news release (www.ped.state.nm.us/press/2011) last Wednesday, February 9. The release, in the third paragraph, said the department contracted with the consultants as “an alternative to the immediate hiring of many of the departments exempt positions.”
What was close to comic was the response to the consultants from Christine Trujillo, president of New Mexico's chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. In a statement posted on AFT’s website (http://nm.aft.org), Trujillo said, "You can't copy and paste an education agenda for New Mexico's kids that outside consultants have used elsewhere. Our students and teachers need education leaders who come from New Mexico and understand the unique needs of our state's children — not folks with connections to the failed education policies of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and to former President George W. Bush's botched No Child Left Behind program. In times of financial crisis, it is unbelievable that Gov. Susana Martinez and state Education Secretary-designate Skandera would choose to hire outside consultants on the dime of struggling New Mexicans."
Trujillo plants herself completely in the cause of utter parochialism and hyper- partisanship and bad political cliches. She claims that New Mexico’s children have “unique needs” that can be understood by people from New Mexico. That’s just nonsense.
Just one of the flaws in Trujillo’s “logic” is that a bunch of New Mexico kids were born outside the state and/or born to parents who grew up elsewhere. Did the kids, needs change when the parents crossed the state border?
Under the Richardson administration, Trujillo and her buddies did one thing successfully—spending money—while retaining performance at the bottom.
The linking of Skandera to the Bush brothers is a stretch, if Trujillo means the linkage denotes failure. Sure Skandera worked for Jeb Bush, by Jeb’s education policies are generally deemed successful, if measured by student performance. No Child Left Behind, while hated by more than a few in education (hmm….) was a mixed bag in my understanding.
The “failed policies” phrase is the cliche.
Finally I’ll bet that Trujillo would be quite happy to have those Richardson administration political appointees to still be in the education department, living “on the dime of struggling New Mexicans.”

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