Abusing NM’s Constitution to avoid education reform

As much as we all like shows like Undercover Boss (where the head of a major company does the job of the lowest-level front-line worker), it is fairly obvious that someone can run a company without having worked his/her way up every step of the ladder at a particular company. In fact, in many industries, business leaders take the reins of multi-million or billion dollar enterprises after having run an organization that is quite dissimilar to their next job. Again, these are major enterprises operating in a competitive marketplace with billions of dollars at stake.

So, it is silly to me — regardless of whether Sen. Michel Sanchez decides to allow Sec. (designate) Hanna Skandera’s confirmation to move forward — that New Mexico’s Constitution requires the head of the Education Department to be a “qualified, experienced, educator.” Certainly, Skandera seems qualified, but why does the head of this department need to be a teacher? The skill sets involved in running a multi-billion dollar department are simply not the same as are those of a classroom teacher.

It would be like requiring a doctor to manage New Mexico’s Medicaid program or mandating that the head of Corrections be a prison guard. It would be silly and it would unnecessarily reduce the pool of qualified applicants. It would also make it more difficult to find fresh, new perspectives outside of the status quo.

And that gets us back to Hanna Skandera and her problems in NM. Her opponents don’t like her because she threatens the status quo. She is trying to shake the system up and make reforms that will get our state out of the bottom of the educational basement. Unfortunately, Sanchez, a powerful Senator, is carrying water for those who are happy with remaining 49th.