The Senate confirmed the nomination of Miguel Cardona to be the next Education secretary on March 1 by a 64-33 vote, making him the 12th secretary of education.
“From early education to higher education, we need to make sure students and their families have the support they need to not only make ends meet, but to make sure every student can thrive,” said Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairperson Patty Murray, D-Wash., in remarks on the Senate floor on March 1. “At this moment of crisis, Dr. Cardona is exactly the leader we need at the Department of Education to tackle these challenges.”
Reaction to the confirmation from education groups was mostly positive, with many stating they are ready to work with the new education secretary on key issues.
“Secretary Cardona’s commitment to students and educators while prioritizing the role of family and community presents tremendous opportunity to improve how we deliver on the promise of education to all our students,” noted Association of American Educators Executive Director Colin Sharkey. “Along with reopening schools safely, we look forward to working with Secretary Cardona on important issues, including addressing the digital divide, increasing teacher diversity, preserving local control, supporting all learning environments, empowering parents and educators, and expanding educator association rights.”
“We must ensure that educators and schools have the tools and resources they need to effectively and authentically diagnose our students’ academic, social, and emotional needs, and support their growth, development, and success,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “We look forward to working with Education Secretary Cardona in taking on these challenges together.”
Civil rights groups react
“Being qualified to be U.S. secretary of Education means you can demonstrate what you have done to remove barriers to educational opportunity and how you have supported civil rights in education,” said Liz King, senior director of the Education Equity Program at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Education Fund. “Dr. Cardona [had] experience as a low-income English learner in Connecticut’s public school system, and his professional experience as an educator and a researcher equip him with a critical perspective on the experiences of some of our most marginalized students.”
Laura Kaloi, a policy advisor to the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, said her group looks forward to working with Cardona on the following goals:
- Fully funding the IDEA and supporting a budget request in FY 2022 to put IDEA on glide path to full funding.
- Clarifying that all education funds provided in the economic stimulus bills can be used to support students with disabilities.
- Ending the use of seclusion and restraint and passing the Keeping All Students Safe Act.
- Helping states administer summative statewide assessments to collect data that speaks to the quality of education at this moment.
- Enforcing the equity in IDEA regulations that went into effect in 2019. She said state implementation is important because it ensures students of color are not disparately impacted by placement decisions or exclusionary discipline.
The Freedom Coalition for Public Charter Schools also applauded the confirmation. “FCCS and its members were encouraged that during his confirmation hearing, Secretary Cardona recognized that there are quality public charter schools serving our communities,” said RaShaun Holliman, executive director of the coalition. “We look forward to working with the secretary and his team to ensure the voices of black and brown charter school founders, educators, families, and advocates are recognized and our choices respected when the department sets policy and enacts federal programs.”
—Charles Hendrix covers education funding and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.
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