Journal Ignores Skandera’s Insider Deal Costing Taxpayers Tens of Millions of Dollars

Today’s Albuquerque Journal contained a front-page article that sure looks like it was designed to make the  Albuquerque Public School system look bad. The Journal seems to be doing that a lot lately. 

It has been noticeable since APS lobbyist Carrie Menapace went public with the physically abusive treatment of her by Keith Gardner, Governor Martinez’s chief of staff. 

More about that in another column.

The article covers how APS now must spend tens of millions of tax dollars to buy 17,000 new computers and other equipment to comply with requirements mandated by PARCC-the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

PARCC requires that APS spend these scare tax dollars as part its process to assist APS with implementing the Common Core Standards. 

But, as is becoming the norm since Susana Martinez became governor the Journal ignored the real news. APS must spend this money because of Hanna Skandera’s cronyism.

NM PED Secretary Designate Hanna Skandera, who has still not been confirmed by the New Mexico legislature, sits on the board of PARCC. PARCC pays for Skandera’s travel to attend its meetings.

Achieve Inc. operates PARCC. Skandera gave Achieve, Inc. a four-month contract totaling $39,660. The Journal neglected to mention that PARCC, a state contractor, pays for Skandera’s travel.

This is not the first time Skandera has traveled on a state contractor’s dime. 

Chad Colby is PARCC and Achieve Inc.’s Director of Strategic Communications & Outreach. The Journal article quotes Colby, but fails to mention that Skandera gave Chad Colby a Professional Services contract back in February 2011 “to provide technical assistance and advise on issues for the Secretary of Education”.

Part of Colby’s advice appears to have been to replace The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the group that the former PED Secretary, Veronica Garcia, had already started working with to help New Mexico implement the Common Core State Standards.

After advising Skandera, Colby went to work for Achieve. Low and behold, Skandera then dropped Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and replaced them with PARCC.

New Mexico, under Garcia submitted an application for Race to the Top funds. Part of the application included, “Continue the partnership with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to develop and implement common, high-quality assessments that will establish a comprehensive system aligned with the common core standards, guide instruction, and support a growth-based accountability model.”

Under Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, APS would not have to shell out the nearly $50 million to meet the arbitrary equipment standards required by PARCC. 

The taxpayers have Hanna Skandera’s cronyism to thank for having to spend massive amounts of money on computers that were not needed under the group originally chosen to help New Mexico transition to the Common Core.

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