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New Mexico Governor appoints Doa Ana Commissioner as Education Secretary

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham Thursday annouced her appointments to the state’s Public Education Department at the state capitol in Santa Fe.

Lujan Grisham announced the appointment of Doña Ana County Commissioner Karen Trujillo as Education Secretary. “Accountability is important. We are accountable to the students and the parents,” said Trujillo, “We’ve come together to create this super team. We will not let you down.”

Trujillo, who has an extensive background in education, serves as the District 5 county commissioner, which encompasses a portion of northwestern Las Cruces and extends north to the Sierra County line. Trujillo defeated Kim Hakes for the seat in the November 2018 election. She took office on January 1, 2019 and was voted commission chairman by her fellow commissioners.

Education was one of Lujan Grisham’s main points of interest during her campaign. In her short time as governor, she has already signed an executive order to end the state’s use of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) standardized test, which is used to evaluate teachers and students.

LujanGrisham described the proposed $500 million budget for the state’s education department a “giant leap forward.” The governor plans to reduce administrative burdens, which she estimates will save about $100 million, thus alloweing the state to send more resources to schools.

Lujan Grisham is installing an education leadership team that includes specialists in Native American education and out-of-state expertise. Among the newly-appointed deputy secretaries is Kara Bobroff, the leader of an Albuquerque-based support group for schools in Native American communities. University of California Professor Pedro Noguera will serve as a special adviser to the secretary.

Trujillo is currently education outreach coordinator for Math Snacks Grant at NMSU. Math Snacks is an NSF grant developing middle school math games and animations.

For the past 23 years,Trujillo has been a professional educator. She has been a teacher, principal, professional development specialist, grant writer and administrator, evaluation specialist, testing administrator, online instructor. She specializes in mathematics education and technology integration. Lives in Las Cruces.

New Mexico is at the bottom of nationwide rankings on education. Trujillo said the state needs to raise teacher salaries in order to attract high-quality teachers. She plans to engage communities across the state to pinpoint problems and look for solutions. Administrators with the education department will have to spend more time with teachers and students in the classroom, Trujillo said.

“The idea of accountability is no longer to punish teachers, students and schools … It’s no longer one test, one day,” said Trujillo.

Trujillo said her constituents in Doña Ana County support her decision to accept the appointment. “This is the moonshot. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo said she and the governor will soon discuss who will take over the district 5 seat when Trujillo takes over the state’s education department.

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