Miguel Cardona Becomes the First Latino to Lead Education Department: What to Know About Him
By a vote of 64-33, the Senate on Monday night confirmed Miguel Cardona as the new Education Secretary under the Biden administration. He will replace Betsy DeVos, who led the Education Department for four years under former President Donald Trump.
ABC News reported that Miguel Cardona would lead the Education Department as schools across the nation try to leap and return to safe and face-to-face instruction.
The first Latino to serve as education commissioner in Connecticut would help President Joe Biden in safely bringing back students and educators to the schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He would play a critical role in aiding school districts as they try to recover from a crisis that put all of their failures in the spotlight.
Miguel Cardona's Goals as Education Secretary
During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Cardona said returning to the classroom safely was a top priority, including a goal to get a majority of K-8 students back to school. He added that he plans to address "inequities head on" and engage with "the vast, diverse community of people who have a stake in education."
Cardona further noted that he recognized the frustration, distrust, and fear on this matter. But as education secretary, he vowed to do everything in his capability to create and roll out a strategy for reopening schools, including communication on how to put them back into operation safely, increased surveillance testing for educators, and prioritization of educators for vaccination.
NPR reported that before being nominated as Education Secretary, Cardona served as Connecticut's education commissioner for the past year and a half. He also worked in public school as a fourth-grade teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent in Meriden, Connecticut.
Cardona earlier argued that schools should reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic to address the equity gaps from growing wider. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already released a road map to get students back into the classrooms safely.
According to an NBC News report, the agency emphasized that wearing masks, practicing social distancing and other mitigation strategies were necessary to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19. However, vaccinating teachers was not included in the CDC fundamentals before reopening the schools.
During the confirmation hearing, Miguel Cardona cited as an "example" some schools in the country that had been able to reopen safely while following mitigation strategies.
ABC News reported that Cardona's confirmation comes as the Senate begins considering legislation that will provide nearly $130 billion for K-12 schools to reopen. Some lawmakers are not in favor of the large sum for schools following two previous relief packages.
Miguel Cardona's Scope of Authority
NBC News reported that Miguel Cardona has limited authority to force schools to reopen. Still, he would play a central role in achieving Biden's goal to make most elementary schools operate five days weekly within his first 100 days. Cardona will also be tasked to guide schools and share the best practices on how to teach amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Walden University, the vast majority of school governance is left to the states and individual school districts, noting that the Secretary of Education is not a school manager but a facilitator. A facilitator who would ensure that funds are distributed as intended and the needed research is presented to policymakers.
NPR reported that Cardona echoed the Biden administration's position that not assessing the students and their performance level would be difficult for the administration to provide targeted support and resource allocation.
Reports said Miguel Cardona is the first Latino to lead the U.S. Department of Education.
WATCH: Senate Confirms Miguel Cardona as Education Secretary - From CBS News
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