Acting State Public Education Secretary Asked to Resign
For immediate release
Contact: Arnold Vigil, (505) 986-4882
SANTA FE — Senator Linda M. Lopez (District 11, Bernalillo) on Monday called upon state Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski to resign in wake of the negative aftermath of his comments about Manifest Destiny and its influence on state educational policy. Lopez said that Ruszcowski’s statements demonstrated a callous insensitivity about the doctrine’s negative historical impact on the previous and present generations of the people of New Mexico.“Mr. Ruszkowski’s refusal to publicly apologize to the people of New Mexico and explain himself to members of the state Legislature demonstrates a serious disregard of the diverse cultural backgrounds of the New Mexico children that he leads and represents,” Senator Lopez said. “His Manifest Destiny comments were made just weeks after he was compelled by the public to backpedal on ill-advised changes to the state’s science standards, which also demonstrated a serious disconnect.”
Senator Lopez’s staff hand-delivered a letter to Ruszkowski’s Santa Fe office on Monday afternoon, urging the cabinet-secretary designate to resign. While addressing a charter schools conference in December, Ruszcowski told his audience: “This is a country built over the last 250 years on things like freedom, choice, competition, options, going west, Manifest Destiny — these are the fundamental principles of this country,” he was reported as saying by the Albuquerque Journal.
In October, the PED unveiled a move to change the state science standards, moving to omit references to research-based scientific concepts such as evolution, global warming and the Earth’s age. A chorus of scientists, science teachers, faith leaders, and educational administrators aggressively pushed back against the changes, which were selectively edited by Ruszcowski’s office from the Next Generation Science Standards that have recently been adopted by many other states.
“Considering the disaster of the last state education secretary that extremely demoralized those in the educational system and left us with a shortage of teachers, it’s becoming clear that the new cabinet secretary is continuing that pattern of controversy,” Senator Lopez said. “It just makes sense that we get somebody in there that understands our diverse state and can work and communicate with professional educators as well as the public.”