Cardona takes cost as many Americans stay divided on whether or not it is secure to completely reopen faculties.
The video above is from Dec. 23, 2020.
The Senate voted Monday to verify Miguel Cardona as education secretary, clearing his option to lead President Joe Biden’s effort to reopen the nation’s faculties amid the coronavirus pandemic. Cardona, 45, a former public faculty trainer who went on to change into Connecticut’s education chief, was accepted on a 64-33 vote.
He takes cost of the Education Department amid mounting stress between Americans who consider college students can safely return to the classroom now, and others who say the dangers are nonetheless too nice.
Although his place carries restricted authority to pressure faculties to reopen, Cardona can be requested to play a central function in reaching Biden’s purpose to have a majority of elementary faculties open 5 days every week inside his first 100 days. He can be tasked with guiding faculties by way of the reopening course of, and sharing greatest practices on methods to train throughout a pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention final month launched a street map for getting college students again into school rooms safely. The company stated masks, social distancing and different methods must be used, however vaccination of lecturers was not a prerequisite for reopening.
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Cardona, who gained consideration for his efforts to reopen faculties in Connecticut, has vowed to make it his high precedence to reopen faculties. At his Senate affirmation listening to final month, he stated there are “great examples throughout our country of schools that have been able to reopen safely.”
The debate has change into a political firestorm for Biden, who is caught between competing pursuits as he goals to get college students into the classroom with out upsetting the highly effective lecturers unions that helped put him within the White House. He says his purpose of returning college students to the classroom is potential if Congress approves his reduction plan, which incorporates $130 billion for the nation’s faculties.
Republicans have rebuked Biden for failing to reopen faculties sooner, whereas lecturers unions opposed the administration’s determination to proceed with federally required standardized exams in the course of the pandemic.
The difficult terrain is nothing new for Cardona, nonetheless, who confronted comparable stress navigating the pandemic in Connecticut, and who has gained early reward even from Biden’s critics.
Republicans in Congress have applauded Cardona’s efforts to reopen faculties in Connecticut, and a few see him as a possible ally of their assist for constitution faculties. Teachers, in the meantime, see him as a associate who brings years of expertise in education and is aware of the calls for of the educating.
The nomination continues a meteoric rise for Cardona, who was appointed to steer Connecticut’s education division in 2019 after spending 20 years working in Meriden, Connecticut, public faculties — the identical district he attended as a toddler.
He started his profession as a fourth grade trainer earlier than turning into the state’s youngest principal at age 28. In 2012, he was named Connecticut’s principal of the yr, and in 2015 he grew to become an assistant superintendent of the district. When he was appointed state education commissioner, he grew to become the primary Latino to carry the put up.
Cardona grew up in a public housing challenge in Meriden, raised by mother and father who got here to Connecticut from Puerto Rico as kids. Through his profession, he has centered on closing education gaps and supporting bilingual education. It’s a private problem for Cardona, who says he spoke solely Spanish when he entered kindergarten and struggled to be taught English.
Cardona was the primary in his household to graduate from school, and his three levels embody a doctorate in education from the University of Connecticut. He and his spouse, Marissa, have two kids in highschool.
His deep roots in public education match the standards Biden was in search of in an education secretary. During his marketing campaign, Biden vowed to choose a secretary with expertise in public education. It was meant to attract a distinction with then-secretary Betsy DeVos, a Michigan billionaire who spent many years advocating for college alternative insurance policies.
In an more and more fractionalized world of education, Cardona has vowed to be a unifier. At his affirmation listening to, he promised to interact with “the vast, diverse community of people who have a stake in education.” He added that, “we gain strength from joining together.”
As he works to assist faculties reopen, he may also be tasked with serving to them tackle the harm the pandemic has executed on pupil studying. He has echoed Biden’s name for additional education funding, saying faculties might want to increase summer time educational packages and rent extra counselors to assist college students with psychological well being points.
He’s additionally prone to face an early check as he weighs how a lot flexibility to grant states as they administer standardized exams. Last week, the Education Department ordered states to proceed with annual testing however stated assessments may very well be supplied on-line or delayed till fall. The company additionally held out the likelihood that states may very well be granted “additional assessment flexibility” in sure circumstances.
Some states are already pushing for that additional flexibility, together with Michigan, which is asking to exchange state exams with native “benchmark” assessments that have been administered this yr. It can be as much as Cardona to determine how a lot leniency to supply.
Republicans have additionally set the stage for a combat over transgender athletes. At final month’s listening to, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., raised objections with insurance policies that permit transgender ladies to take part in ladies’ athletics. It’s the topic of a authorized battle in Connecticut, the place some cisgender athletes are difficult a state coverage that lets transgender college students take part as their recognized gender.
Pressed by Paul to take a stance on the problem, Cardona stated he would assist the fitting of “all students, including students who are transgender.”