Podcast: Embracing the Tension Between Basic Skills and Work Readiness Skills

This week, Tom Vander Ark is speaking with Hanna Skandera, the former Secretary of Education for the state of New Mexico. Prior to moving to New Mexico, Hanna served as the Deputy Education Commissioner for Florida as well as the Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Education.

Hanna learned a lot about agency and initiative from an early age. She began homeschooling at the sixth grade, continuing on through grade twelve. Hanna also began taking courses at her local community college at the age of just fourteen. She speculates that these experiences are likely what helped her accelerate through expansive career; teaching her how to be a self-learner, provided her with the curiosity needed, and helped her find a drive for what matters.

Join her and Tom today to discuss student agency, new education pathways, employability, as well as her new initiative: Pathway 2 Tomorrow, which is focused on transforming the current education system.

Key Takeaways:

[:15] About today’s episode.
[1:07] Tom welcomes Hanna to the podcast.
[1:12] Hanna talks about her early childhood experiences in education.
[6:10] Hanna speaks about why and how she got into education policy, as well as her various career experiences and opportunities.
[9:36] Local education issues in New Mexico and what Hanna tried to accomplish while she was the Secretary of Education there.
[11:55] Hanna’s take on education policy in the U.S.
[14:36] The challenges of getting education policy right.
[17:54] About Hanna’s initiative, Pathway 2 Tomorrow.
[22:29] What the winners’ proposals were for Pathway 2 Tomorrow.
[23:36] What’s Hanna’s ideas for post-secondary solutions?
[25:05] Hanna’s ideas about how to get young people to get the benefits of both post-secondary liberal arts education and employability.
[27:26] What Hanna is seeing on the horizon for transformation in higher education.
[28:32] Hanna asks an important question: “How do we … think about the role of social capital in the stewardship of our education and employability opportunities?”
[29:36] Why does Hanna think it’s important that we set a discourse on this subject today?

Mentioned in This Episode:

Hanna Skandera
No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)
Gates Foundation
Tim Taylor
Pathway 2 Tomorrow (P2T)
A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College, by Ryan Craig
In Defense of a Liberal Education, by Fareed Zakaria
America Succeeds

For more, see:


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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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Episodes cover a variety of education topics in K-12, HigherEd and lifelong learning. Listen in as our team shares interviews with today’s top educators, learning organizations, and thought leaders discussing the future of teaching and learning.

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