Commentary: Santa Fe, NM – Today, Governor Susana Martinez announced the appointment of Christopher Ruszkowski as cabinet secretary of the Public Education Department. Ruszkowski previously served as deputy cabinet secretary for the Department. He is a former middle school social studies teacher and served for nearly six years at the Delaware Department of Education under former Democratic Governor Jack Markell.
“I’m confident that Christopher will bring the energy, enthusiasm and leadership needed to help New Mexico’s students succeed in the classroom,” said Governor Susana Martinez. “It won’t be easy. There are entrenched special interest groups in New Mexico that are dedicated to maintaining the status quo in education. Christopher understands that education in New Mexico needs to focus on our students and give teachers and parents the tools they need to help kids succeed in the classroom and in life."
Ruszkowski joined the Governor’s administration in April 2016 as deputy cabinet secretary of the Public Education Department. In that role he oversaw the state’s academic priorities, policy agenda, and research agenda. In 2017, he co-led the development of the New Mexico State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The plan was recently named the best in the nation.
“I look forward to continuing to work with our students, teachers and families as we build on our success in improving education in New Mexico to make sure we’re giving our kids every possible chance to succeed,” said Secretary Ruszkowski. “As a classroom teacher, I understand and have seen that every child can learn – period – and we will remain committed to helping every single student succeed. We will also continue fighting for key reforms – like making sure that kids who can’t read are provided additional help – expanding our teacher leader networks, putting our families in the driver’s seat of their child’s education and giving our students the tools they need to go on and compete in college and the workforce.”
Since 2011, high school graduation rates in New Mexico have increased by 8 percentage points, to an all-time high of 71 percent. Since 2015, nearly 15,000 more students are on grade level in both reading and math. All of these results occurred while raising the bar for readiness – and New Mexico’s students and schools have risen to the challenge.
Additionally, New Mexico invests more dollars in classroom spending than ever before. Teachers are now evaluated – like other professions – so high-performing educators can be recognized and those who are struggling can get the mentoring and professional development they need. Through these and other reforms, New Mexico students are continuing to close achievement gaps in communities large and small throughout the state.
These reforms are also helping more struggling schools improve. Since 2012, the number of A and B schools has increased by 33 percent. 32,000 more students are now attending A and B schools.
Ruszkowski has worked in public education for more than decade, bringing both classroom experience and in-depth policy knowledge to his new position. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and his master’s degree in education policy from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.