Miguel Cardona’s first Senate hearing offered insight into him as Education Secretary
On Wednesday February 3, President Biden’s candidate for Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona addressed several contentious issues during his first Senate confirmation hearing, such as student loan cancellation, transgender involvement women’s sports and how to follow through on Biden’s promise to reopen schools in his first 100 days in office.
If Cardona is confirmed, he will inherit the educational crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
He did not provide specific ideas on how children can return to school, but mentioned that vaccine distribution should be a priority for educators.
In December 2020, Cardona gained national attention when Biden announced his appointment as head of the education department, but before that, Cardona was a fourth-grade teacher who quickly rose through the administrative ranks.
In August 2019, he became the first Latino to head Connecticut’s education department, where he spent most of his time dealing with the chaos the pandemic has inflicted on public schools. As Connecticut’s education commissioner, he lobbied for the reopening of schools, citing increasing achievement gaps that have been made worse by distance learning.
Unlike former Education Secretary Betsy Devos, Cardona made sure to listen to the concerns of teachers’ unions. Unions in his home state wanted a more conservative approach to the reopening, and their views sometimes clashed, but in the end they praised his appointment.
Asked about charter schools, Cardona explained that he was not actively opposing them, but suggested he would focus elsewhere.
“I recognize that there are great examples of charter schools… I know there are phenomenal examples of neighborhood schools as well. It is really important that we support all schools, including neighborhood schools which are usually the first choice of families in this community, ”he said.
The most tense moments came when several Republican senators urged Cardona to share her thoughts on whether transgender students should be allowed to compete in sports that match their gender identity.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that Title IX, the federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sex, also applies to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Candidate for Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tweeted this after questions about fairness, English language learners, racial disparities and transgender students were raised during his confirmation hearing yesterday. https://t.co/EjhmfFszyl
– Evie Blad (@EvieBlad) February 4, 2021
Devos claimed this ruling did not apply to Title IX, but Cardona, who witnessed the problem play in connecticut, suggested he would start implementing the decision.
Cardona pledged to defend the civil rights of all students, regardless of their gender identity, stressing that it was “extremely important” and the “legal responsibility of schools” to ensure that transgender students have access to education. equality of opportunity in extracurricular activities.
Asked about the cancellation of the student loan, Cardona reiterated his support for the president’s plan to support congressional action to cancel $ 10,000 in student debt per borrower. He also said he would work with “our senators and members of Congress to support a plan that relieves our higher education students.”
“College is the path to continued success and we need to make sure that our students always have access to it and that they are supported in this process,” Cardona said.
He also said that canceling the debt of the most affected communities will be a priority.
“We need to assess the damage that [student debt] cause… and make sure we target support to the students who need it most.
For many Americans, the February 3 hearing was the first opportunity to hear Cardona’s perspective on a range of issues.
Although he was not able to satisfy everyone present at the audience, his experience in the industry, his passion for bilingual education and his advocacy for public education are ushering in much needed changes. for the country.
Until there, @teachcardona told the Senate he will be a champion for:
Student mental health
Bridging the digital divide
Supporting college students
I look forward to learning more and working on education.
– Jamaal Bowman (@JamaalBowmanNY) February 3, 2021
It is evident that Cardona, if confirmed, is up to the challenge of solving the many educational issues facing the nation, in a multifaceted way.
After accepting Biden’s nomination last December, he said NPR, “Me, being bilingual and bicultural, I’m as American as apple pie, rice and beans.”