Former Gov. Susana Martinez has joined the board of ExcelInEd, a Florida-based education think tank founded by 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush, the organization announced Friday.
Martinez joins the group two months after finishing a two-term tenure as governor that included a major push for changes to New Mexico’s underperforming public school system.
But some of the Republican’s most prominent education policies, particularly her administration’s system for evaluating teachers and students, became punching bags in last year’s election as New Mexico’s schools continue to rate poorly.
Meanwhile, the state faces a court order to improve the quality of education for at-risk students after a damning decision by a state district judge last year.
Still, in announcing the move Friday, ExcelInEd touted New Mexico’s increased literacy and high school graduation rates.
In a statement, Bush, the former two-term Florida governor, called Martinez “a visionary leader, bold advocate and long-time champion for education reform.”
“I’m thrilled to welcome Gov. Martinez to ExcelinEd’s board where her talents will help guide our work in states across the nation,” said Bush, a Republican..
Based in Tallahassee, ExcelInEd advocates for a range of policies that Martinez has also promoted involving issues such as charter schools, vouchers, scholarship accounts and A-F school grading.
Martinez had been mum on her next steps, spurring endless speculation in New Mexico politics about where she might land after leaving the Governor’s Office.
As she drew closer to President Donald Trump during her last two years in office, some observers wondered whether Martinez might take on a role in his administration.
But diving back into education policy alongside Bush might make more sense. The two have been simpatico on the issue. Martinez’s first secretary of the Public Education Department came out of Bush’s Florida administration. And a top aide to Martinez during her gubernatorial campaigns went on to work for Bush when he ran for president.