(Albuquerque) Governor-Elect Martinez faces a multitude of problems when she takes over from Bill Richardson, not the least of which is New Mexico’s struggling educational system.

Said Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing, “Martinez’s pick of Hanna Skandera, who served as the deputy commissioner of education under Governor Jeb Bush, to head the PED, is a strong indicator that the successful reforms Florida enacted under Bush over the past 10 years will be emphasized under the Martinez Administration.”

“The fact that Martinez has named a strong reformer with ties to Jeb Bush is a good sign for New Mexico children and parents who are stuck in failing schools, yet face an ever-more competitive global economy,” continued Gessing.

The Rio Grande Foundation has been a leading proponent of education reform in New Mexico and brought the “Florida Model” to New Mexico during a series of events during the summer of 2010 and a policy paper entitled “Florida’s K-12 Lesson for New Mexico.”

As Gessing noted, “Florida’s students have seen dramatic improvements on tests like the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Back in 1998, before Bush’s reforms, New Mexico 4th graders performed at about the same level as Florida’s 4th graders on the reading portion of the test. As of the most recent NAEP test, Florida’s 4th graders outperform New Mexico’s by approximately two grade levels.”

“Florida’s Hispanics,” noted Gessing, “have seen particularly dramatic improvement with poor Hispanic 4th graders seeing the equivalent of three grade levels of improvement on the NAEP from 1998 to 2009. In fact, poor Hispanics in Florida now outperform New Mexico’s general student population.”

“New Mexico faces a long way to go just to bring student performance up to even the national average, but Martinez’s pick of Hanna Skandera to head up PED shows that she is serious about making needed reforms to our K-12 system. This is an early Christmas present to New Mexico parents and students.” concluded Gessing.