The Rio Grande Foundation dubbed Hanna Skandera, “a strong reformer with ties to Jeb Bush” and touted her hiring by Susana Martinez as “a good sign for New Mexico children and parents.” Along with the Albuquerque Journal, Rio Grande Foundation has served as nothing more than a PR firm for Skandera.
The Rio Grande Foundation now wants Skandera to return the favor. A favor that requires breaking New Mexico law. Not that breaking the law concerns Skandera, she has endeavored to violate the Indian Education Act and the Hispanic Education Act, without so much as batting an eye.
The Rio Grande Foundation has contracted with Connections Education LLC to mange New Mexico Connections Academy, a virtual charter school where kids don’t attend school, but spend their day at home on the computer.
A division of multinational conglomerate, Pearson Education, Connections Education LLC is a for-profit management company. They are not running virtual schools out of the goodness of their hearts. It is all about the money.
New Mexico law prohibits charter schools from being managed by for profit companies. New Mexico law also prohibits home school charter schools.
The New Mexico Public Education Commission rightfully denied granting a charter to New Mexico Connections Academy. In addition to violating New Mexico laws, an extensive study of virtual charter schools in Colorado found that virtual academies are less effective than brick and mortar schools..
Rio Grande Foundation has filed an appeal of the charter denial to Skandera. Skandera, who has a track record of reversing the PEC for all of the wrong reasons, is not likely to deny Rio Grande Foundation whatever it wants.
Rio Grande Foundation is a conservative interest group, funded by national conservative groups interest groups who will profit from the privatization of public education. Skandera will give them whatever they want even at the risk of breaking the law.
Skandera gives contracts to favored groups and has them pay for her travel. Skandera recently put the taxpayers of New Mexico on the hook for tens of millions of dollars because she replaced the national consortium previously chosen to help New Mexico develop a plan to meet common core standards with a favored group, on whose board she sits, and gave its parent company a contract.
She created a titled position, Common Core State Standards Director, for her close friend, Christy Hovanetz, but paid her by contract rather than make her a state employee.
Hovanetz is a full-time employee of Foundation for Excellence in Education (“FEE”), who lives in Minnesota. Full-time state employees can’t work full-time for another company. Not a problem for Skandera. Enriching friends is a perk for Skandera.
Her inner circle at PED spends a lot of time in Washington, DC, tens of thousands of dollars in expenses fully paid for by either Fee or Achieve, Inc. the group forcing taxpayers to spend tens of millions of dollars for no legitimate reason.
Skandera and Pete Goldschmidt are material players with Achieve, Inc. Goldschmidt in particular helped implement the policies that led to New Mexico taxpayers having to spend the tens of millions that we don’t have to spend.
The Florida Model has been found to be a failure in Florida. (links) It has siphoned scarce public resources away from brick and mortar public schools with no verifiable benefit to our kids.
But for a handful of people, including Skandera and her closest pals and a few businesses, it is a goldmine. The head of K-12, Inc., the other for profit virtual education system, pulled in $5,000,000 last year.
Leopards don’t change their spots. Skandera is certain to reward Rio Grande Foundation for its public relations campaign on her behalf. She might as well dispense with the formalities of a hearing. No point wasting time when her actions are already clear.