According to a report in the Santa Fe Reporter, Hanna Skandera has taken numerous trips to conferences and meetings, with travel expenses paid by organizations that do business with the state.
The story says, “… over the past two years, various PED [Public Education Department] contractors have paid for Skandera’s flights and hotel rooms. For instance, in 2011, PED paid the Minnesota-based Summit Education Associates, LLC, more than $96,000 for “professional services,” according to the state’s Sunshine Portal.
“The company lists as its manager FEE [Jeb Bush's Foundation for Educational Excellence] Senior Policy Fellow Christy Hovanetz, who helped advise Skandera on legislation [news, Feb. 19: “Business School”]. Then, in June 2012, FEE paid nearly $3,000 to fly Skandera—who is a member of Chiefs for Change, a FEE-operated group of public officials who support the nonprofit’s reform agenda—to a Chiefs meeting in Washington, DC, followed by FEE’s “Festival of Education” in London.
Skandera also serves on the board of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a consortium of 22 states “working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math”—online evaluations Skandera plans to implement in New Mexico in 2015. Travel vouchers show PARCC paid a total of more than $2,000 for Skandera to attend board meetings in Washington, DC, and Alexandria, Va.
PARCC, too, has ties to state money: It’s run by Washington, DC-based nonprofit Achieve, Inc., which last year landed a $39,660 contract with PED, according to the Sunshine Portal.”
A spokesman for the PEDRO said, “Over two days of the hearing, supporters for Secretary Skandera and reform for our students outnumbered those who stand for the status quo. As far as responding to the presentation, it is beyond disappointing that a political operative funded by special interests is given more time before this committee than the citizens of New Mexico who traveled hundreds of miles to testify.”