Miguel Cardona, Education Secretary, presented his vision for reopening America’s schools on Thursday. He stressed the need to make education an equalizer and address inequities within school systems.
Cardona stated that keeping schools open following the coronavirus pandemic was “insufficient” during his speech at Lyndon B. Johnson’s Lyndon B. Johnson building.
“The hardest and most important work lies ahead. He said that it’ll be what we are judged on. “I want to be very clear. As educators and leaders, we either close educational opportunity gaps or make them worse by the decisions that we make over the coming months and years.”
Cardona spoke as he was facing allegations that his department went too far to promote “equity” but not enough to help students during the pandemic.
A national parent’s group wrote Cardona within the past month, outlining several recommendations it wanted him make to states regarding reopening. Fox News Digital published a report shortly before that indicated that Cardona had requested the controversial National School Boards Association letter (NSBA), which suggested that parents may be engaging in domestic terrorism.
Cardona’s request to solicit the letter was denied by the department. This added fuel to a heated debate about critical race theory, equity, and “anti-racism” within schools. More than 100 conservative leaders asked for his resignation in a letter sent this week.
Cardona urged the U.S. not to miss the chance to “re-imagine” education on Thursday. Cardona said that the United States should not hesitate to address achievement and opportunity gaps that exist in the country.
He stated that this means acknowledging the fact that many students who were underserved in the pandemic were the same ones who had to face barriers to high-quality education long before COVID-19.
We cannot lose this moment – this chance to reset education – by returning to pre-pandemic strategies which didn’t address inequalities for Latino, Black, and Native students; students from low-income backgrounds or students from rural areas; students with disabilities; students experiencing homelessness or English learners.”
Let’s do America’s best instead. Let’s make crisis into opportunity.
One of his proposals was to increase Title I funding. This federal money is available for low-income schools. He supported universal preschool, increased mental health resources, and raising reading levels. He also advocated for “more meaningful, authentic, and authentic” parent and family engagement.
Cardona dedicated a portion of his speech to honoring teachers who he said had “worked bravely to” reopen schools. He said, “Let’s talk more than honoring teachers. Let’s ensure they are treated with respect and dignity.”
“This is a living wage. It means professional learning and continuous development. It also means supportive working conditions. They are encouraged to speak up and be a part of our efforts to improve education. It’s up to us to ensure that educators aren’t leaving education jobs and that all people want to pursue them.