The New Secretary of Education and the Effects on Apex High School

Miguel Cardona had his Senate hearing on Wednesday, February 3 on Capitol Hill. Cardona, if he is Senate-approved, is set to become the next Secretary of Education under the Biden-Harris administration.

 

Miguel Cardona started his teaching career as a fourth grade teacher in Connecticut and then became the youngest principal in the state at only twenty-eight years old. Cardona has had many firsts in his career so far and is still working hard. He was not only the youngest principal but also the first Latino Commissioner of Education in Connecticut. Cardona cares deeply for the well-being and education of children. In his roles as principal, superintendent, Connecticut Commissioner of Education, and now most likely the Secretary of Education, it is clear that Cardona genuinely cares about education. He has made sure in the past that everyone has had a voice in decisions and has listened to the perspective of children as well as teachers.

 

“Being around kids- it really serves almost like fuel for the soul.” – Miguel Cardona

 

Each member of the cabinet of the President of the United States has certain duties to uphold as well as counseling the President. With each new President there is a new cabinet, and each member of the cabinet must have a Senate hearing and then be voted into the position. The good news is that most cabinet members make it without a problem; the Senate has only ever denied a few candidates nominated by the President.  Once the President nominates a candidate (usually of the same party affiliation and who holds the same beliefs of said President), the potential cabinet member undergoes a Senate hearing. This hearing is meant to help the Senate better understand what the nominee is planning to do in office and how they will help the country. After the hearing, the nominee is then voted on, and a simple senate majority vote is needed to then have that person installed as a member of the cabinet of the President of the United States.

 

The duties for the Department of Education affect everyone who goes to or works at a school. The primary duties of the Secretary of Education  include inclusion and equal opportunities all across the country when it comes to quality of education and even after school programs. Direction, supervision, and coordination of things related to education are all important in this job, as well as informing the President on matters related to education.

 

The Department of Education also has  a major influence on curriculum used in all grade levels. Because of this, although it may not be obvious, every school in the country, including AHS, is affected by the decisions made by the department head. Another current topic of interest is school reopening. Cardona has suggested that teachers should be given higher priority  in receiving  the COVID vaccine than they are. This is not an especially uncommon opinion but an important one to note. President Biden has promised that schools will reopen by 100 days after he has taken office, and the clock is ticking. Mr. Cardona has not given any specifics on how he plans to assist Biden in accomplishing this goal, but if he can get teachers higher on the vaccine priority list, that is a good first step. Cardona has had a good track record so far with handling the pandemic in his home state of Connecticut, and he is planning to bring that same strategy to schools in the rest of the country.

 

Some other areas of emphasis for Cardona are eradicating student loan debt and the inclusion of all students in school activities, including those that are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Although student loan debt does not affect students in high school, it is entirely possible that Cardona will work to help eradicate that debt during the next four years as he said in the hearing that it is a burden that students should not have to carry. The inclusion of transgender athletes in high school athletics is also a policy that would impact the students at Apex High School.

 

“I believe schools should offer the opportunity for students to engage in extracurricular activities even if they’re transgender — I think that’s their right,” – Miguel Cardona

 

Miguel Cardona brings a lot of experience to the position of Secretary of Education, both administrative and direct experience with students. It will be interesting to see what changes he will make to the previous policies of the Trump administration. It is likely that the policy changes will be not only prevalent on a national level but at a local one here at Apex.

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