The U.S. Division of Training can have a brand new chief. Late Monday, in a 64 to 33 vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Miguel Cardona to be the subsequent Secretary of Training.
Earlier than being nominated by President Biden, Cardona served as Connecticut's schooling commissioner for the previous 12 months and a half, arguing forcefully that colleges ought to reopen in the course of the COVID-19 disaster to be able to hold fairness gaps from rising ever wider. Earlier than that, he spent his complete profession working for the general public college system that helped elevate him — as a fourth grade trainer, principal and assistant superintendent within the previous manufacturing unit city of Meriden, Conn.
Cardona assumes the Training Division's prime job as the controversy round the best way to safely reopen colleges has grown more and more bitter, with many dad and mom clamoring for kids to have the ability to return to lecture rooms and with many lecturers resisting a return earlier than all educators have been vaccinated. That has pressured Biden to stroll a political tightrope, reassuring lecturers they need to be prioritized for the vaccine whereas new steerage from The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention makes clear that vaccinations shouldn't be a prerequisite for reopening colleges.
The college monitoring web site, Burbio, suggests colleges have been regularly reopening. In accordance with its tracker, 27.5% of scholars nonetheless attend virtual-only colleges — down from 31% the week earlier than. A further 28% attend colleges providing restricted in-person instruction, whereas almost half of districts being tracked now supply each day, face-to-face instruction.
Cardona assumes the highest job not lengthy after the Division issued steerage late final month requiring states to renew the annual testing of scholars. The earlier schooling secretary, Betsy DeVos, had waived the requirement in March 2020, elevating hypothesis whether or not the Biden administration would do the identical this spring or restore the requirement.
Testing, like trainer vaccination, has turn into a painful political wedge for Democrats. Lecturers unions have opposed testing necessities, arguing they eat helpful studying time and that many weak college students are nonetheless residence and unable to take the assessments simply. The Biden administration, with the backing of some civil rights teams, argues that testing is vital to measuring college students' progress or lack thereof.
Throughout his affirmation listening to in early February, Cardona echoed the administration's place, saying "if we do not assess the place our college students are and their degree of efficiency, it should be troublesome for us to offer focused assist and useful resource allocation within the method that may greatest assist the closing of the gaps which have been exacerbated because of this pandemic."
Asserting the testing requirement forward of Cardona's affirmation means Biden's incoming Training Secretary can save his political capital for different reopening fights.
Mark Benigni, the superintendent of Meriden Public Faculties who promoted Cardona to work with him within the district's central workplace, informed NPR that, if anybody can calm tensions over the reopening battle, it is Cardona. "Miguel's method is to hear ... to work collectively to see the opposite facet of the scenario. I do not suppose he is ever, 'It is my method or the freeway.'"
Cardona is anticipated to be sworn in Tuesday.
Yow will discover extra about Cardona's positions on the whole lot from college option to pupil debt forgiveness right here.
NPR additionally spoke with a couple of college students from Mister Cardona's very first fourth grade class. Yow will discover these interviews right here.