Setting the record straight with Sen. Ortiz y Pino

Although we are far apart when it comes to public policy, I’d always gotten along personally with Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. Unfortunately, when someone starts spreading lies about you in a public forum, that respect can evaporate in a hurry. So it happened during the ongoing show-trial of Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera in the Senate Rules Committee on Saturday.

Go to the video and fast-forward to the 1 hour mark. After stating accurately that I am a prolific op-ed and letter writer in the local media, Ortiz y Pino falsely claims that I am making 2% off of the contract for New Mexico Connections Academy. He goes on to state that (correctly) Rio Grande Foundation won’t be running the school, but goes on to falsely claim that Connections will be running the school.

Before making false claims in a public form in order to hurt Skandera, Ortiz should have checked his facts. I would have informed the Senator that:

1) I am just one of the members of New Mexico Connections Academy’s Governing Council, nothing more, nothing less;

2) Rio Grande Foundation, the organization which I run, has no direct involvement in New Mexico Connections Academy. We have researched and philosophically support school choice and digital learning options;

3) I and my colleagues on the Governing Council are not compensated by Connections Academy or anyone else for our work;

4) The Governing Council of New Mexico Connections Academy made up of New Mexico citizens “manages” the school not our curriculum/virtual learning partner.

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3 Replies to “Setting the record straight with Sen. Ortiz y Pino”

  1. Paul, another person contacted me about my remarks concerning you during Hanna Skandera’s hearing. I regret if I misrepresented your situation. Here is the response I made to him, and I might very well have misunderstood your relationship to Connections. I thought I’d learned the RGF was the sponsor of the school, and concluded your relationship to the Academy was similar to the one I’d been offered in Anthony five years ago by K-12. Let me know if I need to make a public statement correcting what I said. Here’s what I responded to the email correspondent earlier:
    What I said was that the offer K-12 (the corporation opeating the on-line school in Farmingtron) made to me, when I was starting a charter in Anthony, was that if I would simply lend the name of our non-profit to the venture, they would make sure we secured a charter and would then operate the school for us for all but 2% of the budget. In effect, we would be able to take the $20,000 (if the budget were $1 million) and not lift another finger. I suggested that seeing that the Rio Grande Foundation was partnering with Connections Corporation in a second on-line school approved by Hanna Skandera, made me wonder if that for-profit had offered a similar deal to the RGF in exchange for the use of its name. I don’t believe I suggested that Paul Gessing personally was being paid; just that these entrepreneurial operations look for a non-profit to partner with and offer them an easy, dependable revenue stream in exchange for their parntership. Jerry

    1. Jerry, thanks for this. I’ll send you a note as well. I certainly took your statement as implying that I was personally profiting. Yes, it has been reported inaccurately in the media that RGF is “sponsoring” the school, but that is not the case. I am doing this as an individual who happens to run RGF.

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