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Education secretary’s resignation demanded

Public Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski

SANTA FE – The chairwoman of an influential Senate committee said Monday that Public Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski should resign due to comments about “Manifest Destiny” he made last month.

In response, a Public Education Department spokesman said Ruszkowski will not step down, and blasted Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, for not calling for the resignation of two Democratic lawmakers who made controversial remarks in the past.

Ruszkowski made the comments in question on Dec. 9 during the New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools’ annual conference.

He said charter school options are “quintessentially American” because the United States is built on ideals like “freedom, choice, competition, options, going west, Manifest Destiny.”

The remark drew national scrutiny and prompted criticism from teachers unions and tribal leaders. Manifest Destiny is a 19th century doctrine that justified territorial expansion by white settlers.

Lopez, chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, suggested Ruszkowski’s remarks showed a disconnect with the state’s ethically diverse population.

But PED spokeswoman Lida Alikhani called Lopez hypocritical, adding that the longtime senator has the “most pathetic record” in the Legislature.