89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Former Los Lunas superintendent confirmed as PED Cabinet Secretary

Arsenio Romero
via National Education Association of New Mexico
Arsenio Romero

Lawmakers have confirmed Arsenio Romero as the Secretary of the Public Education Department. He was previously superintendent of Los Lunas Schools and superintendent and CEO of Deming Public Schools.

His appointment comes after former Secretary Kurt Steinhaus resigned in January, the third secretary to leave during Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham's time in office.

Romero was questioned in the Senate Rules Committee, including on the state's efforts to serve students who are low-income, Native American, have disabilities or are English language learners, in the wake of the 2018 Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit that found they were not getting sufficient education.

"We have done a lot of work in the last few years to be able to move our state forward in this area, but we haven't seen all the benefits yet. And those are right around the corner," he said.

He was also asked about the possibility that his position as Public Education Secretary will soon be eliminated. A proposed constitutional amendment which has so far had bilateral support would re-establish a state board of education with a board of governors, much like a system that existed before 2003

"I have a little bit of a worry about how that will go down if that becomes a reality," he said.

But he said he would try to make his tenure as effective as possible. He emphasized the need for better data on everything from instruction to absenteeism to improve the state's chronically poor educational outcomes.

His appointment was confirmed by the full Senate later Wednesday.

Alice Fordham joined the news team in 2022 after a career as an international correspondent, reporting for NPR from the Middle East and later Latin America and Europe. She also worked as a podcast producer for The Economist among other outlets, and tries to meld a love of sound and storytelling with solid reporting on the community. She grew up in the U.K. and has a small jar of Marmite in her kitchen for emergencies.
Related Content
  • In 2018, a judge ruled in the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit that New Mexico was failing to provide an equitable education to students who are low-income, Native American, have disabilities or are English language learners. This means that the state is in direct violation of the education clause in the New Mexico State Constitution.
  • The amendment now proposed, which would appear on the 2024 ballot, would create a state school board, composed of 15 members, 10 of whom would be elected and five of whom would be appointed by the governor. The members would appoint a superintendent.