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Hanna Skandera: Her Consulting Firm and Her Mystery “Initiative”

June 1, 2019

Former New Mexico chancellor of education, Hanna Skandera, has been trying to re-establish herself as an ed reform name since her June 2017 departure from the New Mexico ed department.

hanna skandera

Hanna Skandera

 

In April 2018, she produced a Walton-funded video about the “next step” for ed reform to “connect to real-life issues and needs,” words in step with the Walton goal of trying to appear grass roots rather than top-down (see the Walton Family Foundation 2015 report and my October 2015 post about the report for more). (The 74 is also credited with funding Skandera’s video, though the Waltons also fund The 74; so, it’s like the Waltons are paying themselves.)

In June 2018, Skandera became editor-in-chief of The Line, a K12 ed publication whose former editor-in-chief was former Los Angeles schools superintendent, John Deasy.

According to the Colorado secretary of state, on January 18, 2018, Skandera filed articles of incorporation for Mile High Strategies, LLC (limited liability company). The organization is in good standing (filing up to date): however, it is unclear whether Mile High Strategies is anything more than Skandera alone offering consulting.

On her Linkedin bio, Skandera also advertises herself as founder of Pathway 2 Tomorrow: Local Visions for America’s Future. The organization’s website advertises $100,000 grants and 72 “partners,” including the following:

  • Education Commission of the States,
  • Education Trust,
  • National Alliance for Public Charter Schools,
  • College Board,
  • ACT,
  • Chiefs for Change,
  • Democrats for Education Reform,
  • Teach for America (TFA),
  • TNTP,
  • New Schools Venture Fund,
  • Achieve,
  • 50CAN,
  • Data Quality Campaign,
  • Teach Plus,
  • Foundation for Excellence in Education,
  • Thomas Fordham Institute,
  • Walton Family Foundation,
  • Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO),
  • and Frontline Research and Learning Institute (for whom Skandera serves as The Line editor-in-chief)

Note that the Walton Family Foundation (WFF) supports 39 of the remaining 71 of Pathway 2 Tomorrow “partners.” (Not all “partners” are nonprofit orgs; some, like HCM Strategists and SOVA Solutions, are consulting firms.) Note also that exploration of all of WFF’s 2018 grantees includes no reference to either Pathway 2 Tomorrow or its website– a website lacking in any identifying information, including copyright information.

And consider who is missing from among these 72 “partners”:  the Gates and Broad foundations. Among the 72, Walton is the major money source.

There is also no obvious “about” link regarding who, exactly, is in charge of Pathway 2 Tomorrow. The information about “our team” is buried in the “approach” link and includes two individuals: Skandera and Kristen Lozada Morgan:

Hanna Skandera

Having worked in numerous states and organizations, most recently in a state leadership role, Hanna has witnessed firsthand the importance of alignment between education policy and local needs and priorities. Over the last year, she’s had the privilege of working with leaders from across the country and heard the local voices reflect on the state of our education system. The consistent theme of an evolving localized education landscape and a need for fresh ideas acutely resonated with her. She believes the time is right to support states and local communities as they lead to impact education policy.

Hanna brings over two decades of executive leadership experience to a variety of private, public and non-profit organizations. In addition to serving as New Mexico’s Secretary of Education from 2011-2017, Hanna served as Undersecretary of Education in California from 2004-2005, Deputy Education Commissioner of Florida from 2005-2007, and Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Education from 2007-2009.

Kristen Lozada Morgan

Kristen’s career has been dedicated to building the capacity of organizations to serve students equitably and effectively. Currently, Kristen consults nationally with government agencies and education nonprofit organizations to provide expertise on operations, strategy, and organizational improvement.

Previously, Kristen served as a founding math teacher at a charter school in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. She then led the finance and operations teams through the organization’s growth to a network of schools, earning recognition including an Excellence in Government — Innovation Award for the use of innovative solutions to solve pressing problems. Subsequently, Kristen led EnrollNOLA, the unified enrollment system at the Louisiana Recovery School District, improving operations while promoting access and transparency for families.

Originally from Hawai’i, Kristen earned her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, and an MBA from the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University. Kristen is the proud parent of two soon-to-be school-age daughters.

Kristen Lozada and her husband, Colleston Morgan, were both Teach for America (TFA) recruits in New Orleans. For some reason, Lozada Morgan chose to omit direct mention of TFA from her Pathway 2 Tomorrow bio. Her Linkedin bio includes Lozado’s TFA experience (June 2007 – June 2009). What it does not include is any mention of Pathway 2 Tomorrow. Instead, she merely identifies herself as “education and nonprofit consultant” (October 2015 – present).

On the Pathway 2 Tomorrow site, neither Skandera nor Lozado Morgan is identified by a professional title. However, Skandera nebulously mentioned as a “visionary” in the article featured on the home page, “$100,000 Innovation Award Winners Announced!”:

$100,000 Innovation Award Winners Announced!

P2T is excited to announce the recipients of the $100,000 Innovation Award.  The Innovation Award Committee selected two proposals addressing the authentic engagement of students as partners in education policymaking. The Prichard Committee Student Voice Team and the Iowa Department of Education will share the award capturing students for impact in their communities and across the country.

“These two proposals provide a roadmap for building authentic student ownership in decision making and school transformation,” said Hanna Skandera, former New Mexico Secretary of Education and P2T visionary. “While we have always said that students matter and that we have a desire to incorporate their perspectives, these proposals provide game-changing impact for scale.”

Over the next year, P2T and its Partners will drive progress on the critical areas that emerged from the Call for Proposals, inclusive of the solutions selected for expansion, to leverage broader impact in states and communities across the country.

Also, Via the “news” link, one can glean some of this information via article authors and press release contacts, and the “partners” page includes names and affiliations of numerous “review panel participants” and “supporters and advisors.”

The IRS has no record of a nonprofit named “Pathway 2 Tomorrow” or “Pathway2Tomorrow,” though it does include info on nonprofits with variations on the name (e.g., Pathways 2 Tomorrow; Pathway to Tomorrow). Neither the Colorado Secretary of State nor the Delaware Secretary of State (a popular state for LLC filings) has any LLC registered under the names “Pathway 2 Tomorrow,” “Pathway2Tomorrow,” or “Pathway to Tomorrow.”

Pathway 2 Tomorrow does not seem to be an organization in its own right but rather a program operated by an organization that prefers to conceal itself from public view.

Based on internet archives of its home page, it seems that Pathway 2 Tomorrow went live around July 2018— and with 55 partners already on board.

On June 28, 2018, The 74 featured an “exclusive” article on Pathway 2 Tomorrow. Interestingly, the article identifies Pathway 2 Tomorrow only as an “initiative”– all the while craftily avoiding the question of who, exactly initiated this “initiative”:

An initiative launching today is issuing an open call for proposals to match community needs with innovative education policy solutions.

Led by former New Mexico secretary of education Hanna Skandera and education consultant Kristen Lozada Morgan, Pathway 2 Tomorrow: Local Visions for America’s Future “is an inclusive approach to education solutions and is interested in hearing from voices not always heard – those of educators, practitioners, parents, researchers, advocates, nonprofit and business leaders, and entrepreneurs.”

“What’s really unique about Pathway 2 Tomorrow is the local grounding,” Skandera told The 74. “It comes out of local voice and demands, and the way these ideas are shared in states and communities is through partners. People don’t go to a policy catalog to create their next policy agenda. They go to the places and the coalitions that they build at the local level and the people they trust.”

P2T has signed on nearly 50 bipartisan partners and even more supporters and advisers, ranging from school chiefs to political leaders. Among the partners are Teach for America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Data Quality Campaign, and the College Board.

Amid an evolving education landscape that is clamoring for solutions to prepare for the growing needs of an unknown future economy, coupled with new requirements for state-driven policy under the Every Student Succeeds Act, P2T launched as a response to the changing needs of state and local business, government, and education leaders.

Time for some conclusions:

Based upon the details presented in this post, my first guess is that Pathway 2 Tomorrow is a Walton-directed “initiative” to try to drum up some semblance of nationwide grass roots support for school choice and other Walton-favored ed reforms, all the while concealing from the public the top-downness of its efforts to “create” local-level ed reform.

I also think the absence of Gates and Broad funding has to do with no need for billionaires to donate to the “initiatives” of other billionaires.

As for The 74’s “exclusive” on Skandera’s mystery initiative: I believe The 74 knows full well who is behind Pathway 2 Tomorrow and was willing to conceal the identity of the actual “initiator” from the public.

Finally, concerning Skandera’s starting a consulting LLC around the same time: It seems likely that she will use the LLC as an “independent contractor” to receive her compensation. Benefits of such an arrangement include receiving regular pay and making regular tax payments.

If I am wrong about Pathway 2 Tomorrow’s being a Walton front and her LLC being related to it, I am happy for Skandera to set me straight by providing the details about just who initiated her initiative, who handles its finances, and who is paying her salary as its “founder/visionary.”

Better yet: Include such information on the Pathway 2 Tomorrow website.

*Locals* like knowing such things.

waltons

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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8 Comments
  1. In her seven years in N.M., the state remained at the bottom of NAEP. NO gains at all.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    “I also think the absence of Gates and Broad funding has to do with no need for billionaires to donate to the “initiatives” of other billionaires.”

    For certain Gates has sent a ton of money to many of the “partner” organizations. He has sent operating support to the Education Trust and many others. He founded the Data Quality Campaign around 2005. That organization now has an arm for Workforce Data Quality, is working on Postsecondary metrics for the economic outcomes the higher education, and hopes to get PII from PreSchool to at least age 41.

    I have not visited the Broad Foundation but my guess is that the Broad has also funded many of these partners.

    • But Gates, Broad, and Walton do not fund each other.

      • Laura H. Chapman permalink

        Not directly but they certainly work in concert to support many of the same organizations.

      • Yes, but my point is the absence of Gates and Broad among Pathway 2 Tomorrow “partners” draws attention to the idea that this is a Walton “initiative.”

  3. Lance Hill permalink

    Golden Parachute for failed corporate education reformers. Interesting that some are now they are hiding their TFA credentials. Sad fact is that billionaires will always take care of their minions. Foundations undermine the free-market mechanism that punishes failure rather than reward it.

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