Martinez picks Florida reformer to be education secretary


Hanna Skandera

Gov.-elect Susana Martinez has nominated a woman who implemented education reforms in Florida to be New Mexico’s public education secretary.

Hanna Skandera “served as the deputy commissioner of education under (Florida) Governor Jeb Bush, where she promoted and implemented middle and high school reforms that instituted greater accountability, incentives for high performance and the end of social promotion,” a news release from Martinez’s transition team states.

“As a result of the education reforms put in place in Florida, reading scores improved dramatically across ethnic groups, with Hispanic students outperforming all students in 31 other states,” the release states.

Skandera has also served as a senior policy advisor for the U.S. Department of Education and undersecretary for education for the State of California.

“Hanna is a proven reformer who has successfully implemented education innovations and achievement-based reforms for two of our nation’s governors,” Martinez said in a news release. “She shares my belief that we must focus on implementing reforms that improve student achievement here in New Mexico, rather than simply throwing more money at a failed system.”


Skandera said Martinez has directed her “to reform a system that has failed young New Mexicans, and we will do so by raising standards, rewarding excellence and re-focusing our attention on classroom achievement.”

“The foundation for these bold changes is an approach to education that puts students first,” she said.

Update, 3:45 p.m.

Martinez’s team sent this statement from Bush:

“Hanna is a passionate, effective advocate for improving student achievement. Her vast academic, government and professional experience in education makes her an incredible asset to New Mexico as they work to improve student outcomes.”

Update, 4:15 p.m.

Think New Mexico’s Fred Nathan was quick to praise the selection of Skandera.

“Governor Elect Susana Martinez deserves an A+ for choosing Hanna Skandera as PED secretary,” he said. “Skandera is a true education reformer and a data-driven proponent of smaller schools. Her selection is especially good news for public school children and their parents seeking smaller learning environments.”

Think New Mexico is advocating for smaller schools, and Nathan pointed to an article co-authored by Skandera that does the same.

65 thoughts on “Martinez picks Florida reformer to be education secretary

  1. Those of us who smelled something fishy in the air about Mr. Ladner’s claims may find it of interest that he was the recipient of a Bunkum Award by the National Education Policy Center a few days ago. Some may find this a direct hit to his credibility. His co-author, Lindsey Burke, was provided the smae distinction. An award well deserved! Spread the word and save your students from bologna!

  2. Brushybill,

    At least a few have been alerted to the “magic” about to be found in New Mexico. Also be aware that Jeb Bush has been in the paper (Washington Post of today) saying he won’t run for Pres in ’12 but hasn’t ruled out ’16.

  3. So the lady with no teaching or administrative experience who bumbled through a messed-up California system and advised McCain is an early Christmas present? Really? More like “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Even skewed NAEP scores , vouchers for special ed kids, which dilutes the testing cadre (such as it is with NAEP) and raises scores, and retention at the 3rd grade, which further restricts the testing group at 4th, making Florida smell like roses, will not mask this impending disaster. The first thing Skandera will do is hand pick the NAEP testing sites, and “voila!”, scores will improve. It’s magic. Mark my word. Skandera will “find other opportunities” within three years and be gone, leaving behind a disaster. One might argue it is a disaster now, but it can be much worse. NCLB has weilded its magic. Skandera and Martinez will finish it.

  4. Yet another OOPS for Mr. Ladner coming from Tampa Bay the Gradebook:
    Report: Florida lags in college enrollment, soars with college completion
    Compared to other states, Florida doesn’t do well getting its kids to college, but once they’re there, it does a great job getting them a degree, says a new report from the Southern Regional Education Board.

    Fifty-four percent of Florida students who recently finished high school enrolled in college in 2008. That was below the national rate of 63 percent, below the regional rate of 62 percent and down three percentage points from 2000, the report said. In fact, Florida’s rate was the lowest of the 16 SREB states, trailing West Virginia (59 percent), Oklahoma (58 percent) and Texas (55 percent).

    On the sunny side, the state had a six-year college graduation rate of 59 percent in 2008, putting it ahead of the national rate of 55 percent and regional rate of 53 percent. Among SREB states, it was tied with North Carolina for fifth best.

  5. Mr. L,

    I have previously explained why I am using the NAEP grade 12 data….because you use the grade 4 data to your advantage but to my dissatisfaction. I previously stated I don’t like these measures but prefer growth measures. I am having trouble matching your concern with SES to your title Demography Defeated relative to marketing Florida’s defective system. Would you prefer now to change that title to Was the A+ Plan a mistake plus more?

    I have a few more title idea for you in the future:
    Taking the Money out of Education and Into the Pockets of Corporations
    How to Make a Profit off A Student
    Selling Bologna As Steak
    What I Did for Jeb; Confessions of a Cheerleader
    Who Cares about Education anyway?
    This Education Stuff is over-rated
    Ten Years later: OOPS: Chronicle of the Jeb Bush Reforms in Florida
    Money over Minds

    Free for your choosing. I could even write some of them for you.

  6. Mr. L,

    I delight in the growing numbers of people who find your two cents worth less than that. .I have been trying to grow this opinion for years. I do give you credit for continuing the conversation but can only suggest you directly answer the numerous questions that have been raised.

    I continue to find your actions based on political motive and contrary to an advocating stance for children.

    Gaming the system does not equate to improved student outcome. I asked myself for years why our state continued to use an accountability system which has been shown to be flawed, until finally the light came on. Those flaws feed right into political objectives.

    You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all the people all the time. Barnum (?)

    I do accept your perception that I move from one attack to the next. I feel I must since I can rarely access your work these days and, living in Florida as the vocal and investigative advocate for student learning that I am, I still find it necessary that I add to your incomplete info.

    I hope student advocacy groups are following this article/blog. I hope it is being circulated to persons who can do something with it. Knowledge is power and incomplete information just might be propoganda.

    We, in Florida ,have a giant mountain to climb this year. We are just beginning to plan our response. Governor Scott’s 25K a seat inauguration dinner is set for 1/4. Supporters of public schools are wearing red that day to show opposition. Persons in other states are invited to do the same in sympathy. We may lose.It is tough to beat the power of the billionaire takeover of education but we won’t go down without giving it our best shot. We were victorious last year. An updates series of articles is present on Facebook Stop Senate Bill 6. Expand your knowledge base beyond the illusions of Mr. L.

    NM’s children are counting on you to look out for them.

  7. Matt, I now more than a little fed up with your deliberate misrepresentations about my remarks about NAEP. I do not claim and have not claimed the NAEP juggles the data. I claim that Florida juggled the demographics and the institutions involved in the NAEP testing.–period. As I (and other on this thread see it, your ideology trumps your credibility, and I shall have no compunction about representing you as a political shill for private-sector, corporate interests.

  8. Exactly as predicted, when I raised the fact that the other states in the limited 12th grade sample were wealthier and predominantly Anglo in comparison to Florida, making it a minor miracle if Florida did not score below average for this very limited number of states, “Florida Speaks” completely ignores the point yet again, changes the subject, and races off to make other claims. A fine example of internet troll tactics- ignore all proof contrary to your point of view, and when a point you have attempted to make has been demonstrated to be exaggerated or in error, you simply make new claims. If I made the mistake of responding to each new distortion, I wouldn’t be able to do much else.

    Not to be outdone, Michael has spun unrealistic yarns about NAEP conspiracies and/or distortions. Asked for proof, he provides nothing of substance.

    Well, that was fun, but here’s the deal- the 2009 NAEP revealed that 48% of New Mexico students scored below basic in reading. If you are happy with that, by all means, listen to your reactionary voices and keep everything the same as it is now.

    If however you are not satisfied with nearly half of your students being functionally illiterate, you need to develop a plan for improvement. It might be a good idea to find out what has worked in other states. Go to the NAEP website and study the numbers for yourself.

  9. New Mexico’s educational standing and educational progress will be enhanced by attracting and retaining the best teachers, not by enforcing additional accountability on a demoralized workforce. The current national mindset of “the beatings will continue until the morale improves” does nothing to improve education, except to bolster the egos of functionaries who direct educational enterprise without ever having actually taught a class. The latest functionary trotted out by the new governor has no credibility. Instead of “an early Christmas present for New Mexico”, the decision has provided New Mexico’s teachers with no new hope or even any new ideas. Manipulation of faulty data acq

  10. Yet anothe r present for New Mexico’s children and those willing to advocate on their behalf:

    An excerpt from the Fordham study in above article follows:Figure 2. Four Pathways for 2003-04 Low-Performing Schools
    By 2008-09, school performed at or above the 51st state percentile in reading
    and math proficiency.
    Moderate Improvement:
    By 2008-09, school performed between the 26th and 50th state percentiles in reading
    and math proficiency.
    Persistent Low Performance:
    By 2008-09, school performed at or below the 25th state percentile in reading
    and math proficiency.
    School ceased operations prior to the 2009-10 school year.
    Figure 3 (see page 61) shows the extent to which low-performing charter and district schools in 2003-04 altered their status by 2008-09. Florida’s figures are presented alongside those for the full 10-state sample. Four notable findings emerge:
    • The vast majority of schools in both sectors that were low-performing in 2003-04 remained in the bottom quartile of reading and math proficiency five years later.
    • Florida’s charter sector did better by its low performers than did the district sector. Seventy-three percent (n=19) of the low-performing charters in 2003-04 remained in the lowest quartile, compared with 87 percent (n=180) of the low-performing district schools. Florida’s district sector had the third-highest rate of persistent low performance of the ten states in the study.
    • As was the case in all ten states, Florida’s low-performing charters were likelier to be closed than similarly weak district schools. Six of the former were shut down from 2003-04 to 2008-09, representing 23 percent of all charter schools, compared with 7 percent in the district sector. Florida’s charter closure rate was above the 10-state average; only Ohio, Wisconsin, and Arizona closed larger proportions of low-performing charters.
    • None of Florida’s low-performing charter schools in 2003-04 qualified as a “turnaround” by 2008-09, and just one district school met the criteria. Turnaround rates in the 10-state sample were not much better—only 0.4 percent and 1.4 percent of charter and district schools met the criteria—indicating the tough odds facing America’s numerous school turnaround efforts.

    Poverty has been cured as an achievement detractor here in Florida, I guess. Our honorable ex Governor Jeb Bush used to quote on one his foundations something like, “Children do not start out behind. They are left behind”. I await any research that backs his old quote. It seems such could only have been spoken by someone without a clue.The exact exclusion of poverty from the discussion is indicative of a foolish stance. Research may not matter when political motives rule.

  11. Mr. L,
    Your work is drawing more public challenge and for that I am exceedingly grateful.(BTW, I want to correct myself. The columbia Teacher’s College person who most recently critiqued you was a professor, not a student. My mistake)
    I do use the NAEP scores since you constantly speak to them in your infomercial of a defective product. They too are static achievement measures and would be skewed by SES. I preface my use of these scores, including ACT and SAT, with a prefrence for growth measures, of which I suspect you have none. How can I challenge you on data you do not have? Where is your rebuttal to the possibility that the illusions of Florida may be attributed to poor design of the accountability sytem and built in allowances for gaming the system?

    Florida does not employ a value added methodology…but I do. My children’s A schools too often made below the district average gain for years while keeping that grade.

    Other posters and I have posed numerous questions to which you have chosen the mode of attacking irrelevant factors or ignoring altogether. I am reminded of the same response after placing research in your hands about the failure of the A+ Plan. Even the researcher I had contact you failed to get a response.

    I only ask readers to google on their own about Florida. The ACLU took on the state for its dismal graduation rates. Try dropout factories and Florida. One thing Florida does, imho, is deny persons unable to meet a test score a viable future.

    Your perception that Florida’s graduation criteria has teeth is not the opinion of our legislators who upped the ante last session. Living in Florida has its benefits when supplying information.

    I advise interested persons to google Governor Scott and Florida education. It is not just about education, but about use of money. Looking at reducing the cost of the Florida Retirement System has surfaced. Again living in Florida has its benefits so I share with you the following. Just 3 weeks after settling the ethics complaint against him (Senate President haridopolos), our Senate President provided yet another unflattering side of him as he made choices relevant to reduce the cost of our retirement system. Upon exposure, he fired this man.

    Following Florida is a huge undertaking. Find out what you are in for by actively learning and sharing. We used social networking last year to defeat Senate Bill 6, our merit pay, take away teacher licenses, and ending tenure bill. We posted articles, organized locally and statewide, and employed mass
    communication strategies. Even legislators watched some of the pages, some joining beforehand and others following posts even while in the hearings.. I do not feel so optimistic this year. We garnered a ton of parent and teacher support. We were victorious in the end when the governor vetoed the bill. Whether or not the veto was a political ploy by the Governor, in the end, the majority was heard. What was deemed one of Jeb’s babies ended in defeat, a task hard to accomplish.

    Jeb’s foundations seem to rule education in Florida, despite their lack of public buy in. They each have a Facebook component.(Amusing to me, one is titled Foundation for Excellence in Education, nearly as ironic as the failed accountability system being totled the A+ Plan, and an A school possibly also beingh where the least growth is evidenced.) One has about 185 members and the other about 250. Stop Senate Bill 6 has nearly 47,000 and that was not the largest page and another page titled FCAT Florida’s Children Are Tortured has fans in excess of 32,000. Luckily for Jeb, he has Mr. L as a cheerleader . Some people would refuse that job.

  12. Florida Speaks-

    Why should I bother to respond to you if you are going to repeatedly demonstrate yourself to be completely immune to evidence?

    As a recent example on this forum, you continue to cite this 12th grade NAEP scores, when I have already noted that there is no trend data available and that there were only 10 other states involved, many of which have K-12 student bodies that are almost entirely Anglo and much wealthier than Florida. The fact that Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and South Dakota score higher than Florida on 12th grade NAEP is hardly a shock. The claim is not that Florida has become South Korea or Finland, merely that it has substantially improved.

    I could go and find links from the SAT and ACT warning people not to use their tests for cross-state comparisons because they are a self-selected sample.

    I could note that Florida is one of the few states with an exit exam with teeth, and that graduation rates are improving.
    What I cannot do is to bring myself to take you or anyone else seriously when they simply ignore all evidence to the contrary of their beliefs.

  13. Michael-

    I am afraid that it is you who are making a series of weak arguments. When the Opportunity Scholarship program was ruled unconstitutional in 2006, it had all of 700 students participating. Perhaps in your imagination, 700 students can ruin a stratified random sample of 2.6 million students. Even if it could, the program has been defunct since 2006. The last NAEP sample it would have had any chance to impact came in 2005. There were further NAEP samples in 2009.


  14. I like alot of your thoughts, Mr M. I add as well that data can be manipulated and cherry picked to present glowing illusions. Moving low performers out of schools (via vouchers) to perform poorly in a new school which can accept that score without it hurting their school grade masks lack of educational improvement. It sure makes for great public relations, increased property values as you get that A, and rewards and sanctions doled without relation to size of learning gain. Florida’s illusions are easily generalized with adults winning and students poised as pawns. Research Florida on your own and stand up for NM’s students. Why adopt boogna when steak is available? NM students deserve an accountability sytem that is valid, fair, and reliable. I opine Florida’s is the last descriptor but missing the prior two attributes.