Does Governer Susana Martinez’s Education Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera approve of students buying grades to graduate instead of earning them?

It sure seems that way.

Hanna Skandera’s silence in the face of a burgeoning grade-buying scandal is curious and disturbing.

On May 16, 2011 Albuquerque Public School Superintendent Winston Brooks and Chief Academic Officer Linda Sink sent a letter to Skandera regarding an APS student in danger of not graduating for failing a course.

This student then obtained a passing grade by paying $200 for a Southwest Secondary Learning Center online class that was completed in a single weekend.

APS is currently required to accept the grades from Southwest Secondary Learning Center, so this student gets to graduate.

Obtaining credit for a full semester after one weekend of study makes little sense. Is it really possible to learn an entire semester  of material in a weekend?

Learning isn’t really the point.  It is all about graduating. And the more charter school students who graduate, the better Skandera’s “reform”package looks.

Paying $200 to get the passing grade has the appearance and smell of  scandal.

Charter schools are public schools in New Mexico. Should a charter school be allowed to charge a public school student to take a class?

How many APS students can afford to pay $200 to enroll in a weekend online class? Some can, but certainly, many cannot.

Skandera has yet to responded to APS’s request to look into this situation, despite NM PED spokesman Larry Behrens’ press statement:

With thousands of students taking the time to work hard for a diploma we take seriously the responsibility to make sure that diploma is earned. We’ve been clear from day one we expect a high bar for every student at every level. Having only heard of these concerns today, we will be looking into the situation immediately.”

Is this issue too insignificant for her to address herself? As to date, there has been no action from Secretary-designate Skandera’s office.  .

Southwest Secondary Learning Center is a charter school that offers “virtual” online classes.

Skandera is a big proponent of charter schools and online learning, especially if it involves paying private companies for services that have always been provided by the government, at no charge.

Perhaps that explains her silence. Silence that again shows she is unfit to serve as the head of public education in New Mexico.

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