Biden’s Education Secretary Pick – A Public School Student’s Perspective

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AP

Miguel Cardona, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Education, speaks after being introduced at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

As the Trump administration comes to a close, all eyes are on Joe Biden and his picks for cabinet positions. Positions such as Secretary of State, Attorney General , and Treasury Secretary are commonly associated with a President’s cabinet. One position that seems to not get as much attention, however, is the Secretary of Education.

Trump’s education secretary was Betsy DeVos, a former political aid and chair of the Michigan Republican Party. Confirmed on a party line of 51-50, DeVos has been a magnet for criticism as she has never taught in, or even been a student of, a single public public school in her life. Although she has been a proponent of school choice and availability to private schools, she has also proposed taking funds away from public education programs and has been widely ridiculed by many educators for her decisions.

As a former private-school student and a current public-school student, I do believe that while private school has its advantages, this doesn’t mean that public schools are any less prestigious. The American public’s tax dollars have been meant to go to funding our nation’s public schools, while private schools are, as the name suggests, privately funded. Add to this that DeVos has never personally dealt with public schools before her current position, and you’ve got a cabinet member who seems awfully biased.

Biden, however, has decided to go in a different direction with his Education Secretary pick. Miguel Cardona began life as the son of Puerto Rican immigrants, and only learned English during kindergarten at a Connecticut public elementary school. After graduating from an automotive program at H.C. Wilcox Technical High School in Meriden, Connecticut, Cardona went on to study at Central Connecticut State University, and ended up receiving his Doctorate of Education from University of Connecticut in 2011.

In 2003, Cardona became the youngest principal in Connecticut when he received this position at Israel Putnam Elementary School. He would go on to become the Commissioner of Education for his state, and is now Biden’s pick for Education Secretary under his cabinet. So, what makes him different from his predecessor?

First of all, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, which has made many Americans homebound, Cardona has pledged to end the divide between those who have access to the internet and those who don’t. His plan involves helping to pass legislation to provide internet access and computers to families making less than a certain amount of money every year.

Cardona has also been a champion of racial justice and racially charged issues. The son of immigrants and growing up around people of color, Cardona has especially taken charge when it comes to inequalities in our schools. He has pledged to pave ways for minorities and people of color to be able to teach quicker in our public schools, and make it easier for them to work up the ranks as he did.

Finally, one of the starkest contrasts between former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Biden’s choice of Miguel Cardona is that Cardona plans to hold charter schools accountable for their own funding and making sure that they stay within their rights. This is a far cry from Betsy DeVos’ support of privately funded programs such as Education First, which has come into some hot water due to apparent government funding in recent years.

Public schools and their educators will benefit under Miguel Cardero as Education Secretary, and American taxpayers should be able to take comfort in knowing that their taxes are going to public schools, not charter schools.