In this morning’s paper, my colleague Dan Boyd ably reported that state Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera will get a confirmation hearing tomorrow, at 8:30 a.m. before the Senate Rules Committee. I’ll be there for sure, half awake and irritable.
Skandera has been a polarizing figure in the two years she has spent as secretary-designate. So it is not surprising that supporters and opponents are both mobilizing their troops.
The Albuquerque Teachers Federation, which as been sending out regular bulletins to its members about what is happening at the Legislature and how they can get involved, sent an email to members urging them to contact their senator and oppose Skandera’s confirmation.
The email specifically cites the state constitution, which says the secretary of education must be a “qualified, experienced educator.” Skandera’s opponents have repeatedly questioned whether she meets these qualifications, since she has never been a teacher or worked in a school.
She did spend several days per week in classrooms in the 1990s when she worked at Free to Be, an abstinence-based, peer education program. Most of her resume, however, has been in positions as an education policy adviser in Florida, California, Texas and Washington, D.C.
Whether these posts are enough to make her a “qualified, experienced educator” may be a central point of Friday’s hearing.
Skandera supporters are also gearing up for the hearing. Terri Cole, who heads the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, sent out an email Wednesday in which she said the governor’s office had asked the business community to support Skandera’s confirmation. In the email, she urged members of the chamber’s board to attend the confirmation hearing, and offered to prepare remarks for them.
“The hearing will be difficult and support from the business community can make all the difference,” Cole wrote.