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Skandera hearing odds and ends

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Based on my email inbox and my phone messages, a person might think the only thing going on in New Mexico this week is Hanna Skandera’s confirmation hearing. I even heard someone talking about it at Weck’s this weekend.

For now, the hearing has been recessed until later this week. But in the meantime, Skandera’s dad is weighing in. And although he is very kind and professional, I’m not sure he liked my blog post from Friday about the disconnect between policy types and practitioners. Here’s what Mr. Harry Skandera had to say:

“The teachers present who testified against confirmation all received gift cards to be in attendance.  The citizens and former teachers who came and testified for confirmation did so without reward and substantially outnumbered those who had to be “gifted” in order to attend and testify.   Teachers and teachers’ union members who sit on the Education councils of the House and Senate and on the Senate Rules Committee seem to be proud and happy to be ranked 49th  in educational rankings among US states.  One would reasonably expect with a  49th  ranking credentialed, educated, dedicated, teachers would be open-minded enough to embrace change, for the sake of the kids, if not for their own reputations.  It is sad that the union leaders and politicians who continue to power play with another generation’s future remain in places where there arrogance serves no positive purpose.  They bring shame upon their legacy and dishonor the hopes of the people they are supposed to represent.

Thank you for  your blog.”

I think it’s pretty cool that Mr. Skandera is weighing in on his daughter’s behalf. But I do want to gently correct a misperception that seems to have spread far and wide: Teachers were not given gift cards to testify in Santa Fe. Some folks seem to have gotten this idea from an email that was sent out to AFT/ATF members, which asked them to volunteer at the union phone bank. Those who volunteered at the phone bank were entered in a weekly drawing for a gift card. ATF President Ellen Bernstein clarified that teachers who went to Santa Fe to testify were not compensated in any way, and paid for their own food and gas.

Lastly, the battle over Ms. Skandera’s confirmation has spilled into the realm of unscientific, online polls. Our news partners, KOAT-TV, are running an online poll about whether viewers/readers approve of the job Skandera is doing. Right this moment, it’s running “no,” 61 percent to 39 percent. It’s come to my attention that the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce has sent out an email urging members to visit the poll and vote “yes.” I don’t know whether Skandera opponents are doing the same, but it wouldn’t surprise me. This confirmation hearing has passions running high on both sides.