The Biden administration has made equity a central goal, including in education where long-standing disparities have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Studies show students of color and those from rural areas have struggled the most with remote learning over the past year. In our continuing “Opportunity in Crisis” series, Washington Post opinions writer Jonathan Capehart speaks with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona about what policies can help students, teachers and families as schools reopen again this fall.

Highlights

“We have to make sure that when we build back better, we’re not going back to the system of March 2020 where it was almost predictable. You could predict a student’s ability to succeed based on race or place. That’s unacceptable. We should have a high level of outrage that it’s gone on that long….What it translates to is when we reopen our schools we are giving all students an opportunity to have highly qualified teachers, getting rigorous curriculum, having opportunities for the highest level courses that lead to college access.” (Washington Post Live)
“Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. That’s the best way we can ensure we can not only get back to regular experiences like going into school full-time. What I’ve seen work throughout the country is when our educators work closely with our health experts to ensure that the mitigation strategies are being used not only to reduce transmission…but also to build confidence and ensure parents are sending their children to school.” (Washington Post Live)
“No one should be made to feel less than by a person in your playground, during recess, or by an elected official…If someone doesn’t feel comfortable around those students, I’m not going to entertain an exchange where our students who are watching are made to feel uncomfortable.” (Washington Post Live)

Secretary Miguel Cardona, U.S. Department of Education

Dr. Miguel A. Cardona was sworn in as the 12th Secretary of Education on March 2nd, 2021.

Secretary Cardona previously served as the Commissioner of Education in Connecticut, a position he held after being appointed by Governor Ned Lamont in August 2019. In this position, he faced the unprecedented challenge of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and led the safe school reopening efforts in Connecticut. To do so, Secretary Cardona and his Department provided school districts with the balance of guidance, local autonomy, and oversight needed to ensure equitable and meaningful educational opportunities for students while also prioritizing public health mitigation measures. Secretary Cardona has two decades of experience as a public school educator from the City of Meriden. He began his career as an elementary teacher. He then served as a school principal in Meriden in 2003 where he led a school with outstanding programming for three to five-year-olds, students that were bilingual, and students with sensory exceptionalities. He proudly served in this role for ten years. In 2012, Miguel won the 2012 National Distinguished Principal Award for the State of CT and the Outstanding Administrator Award from UConn’s Neag School of Education. Secretary Cardona then transitioned to lead the work of Performance and Evaluation in the district. He then assumed the role of Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, overseeing teaching, learning, and leadership alignment.