Secretary Cardona Unveils Department of Education’s Priorities
On Thursday, Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona unveiled his priorities for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in a speech delivered to an audience primarily comprised of students. He framed his priorities around equity, remarking “We must level up our entire education system… to finally make education the great equalizer.”
Cardona’s vision for ED is comprehensive, and largely reflective of President Biden’s campaign promises. These priorities include keeping schools open whenever it is safe to do so; increasing funding for Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), significantly expanding mental health services in schools, and embarking on more “meaningful and authentic family engagement.”
Cardona stressed that the students most impacted by the pandemic are also the students who were furthest from opportunity pre-pandemic, and they must receive the most resources to recover. He proposed solutions including, at a minimum, 30 minutes of targeted, intensive tutoring three times a week for students who fell behind. He also noted that students suffering from trauma must not also suffer from exclusionary discipline practices.
Cardona acknowledged the stresses of the profession, remarking “We cannot expect teachers to do it all,” and that it is imperative to make sure people want to stay in education jobs. “To my colleagues in the field I know you’re tired, I know you’re stretched… I see you and I understand what you are going through. It will get better,” he remarked. Ending on an optimistic note, Cardona urged educators to turn challenge into opportunity for students. “This is our moment to lift our education system to a greater level,” he said.