Miguel Cardona Pressed by Lawmakers on Tests, Reopening Schools, and Transgender Students

Feb 4, 2021 by

The nominee for secretary of education stressed the value of COVID-19 relief and that schools must be “free of harassment and discrimination.”

Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee during his confirmation hearing Feb. 3, 2021.

Nominee for education secretary Miguel Cardona vowed at his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to help schools reopen safely and ensure educators and students have the support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Cardona did not take a firm position on the role of standardized tests during the pandemic, and in general tried to stake out positions on controversial issues such as the rights of transgender students without seeming combative.

President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education told members of the Senate education committee that future pandemic relief funding from Congress must focus on helping students recover from COVID-19 academically and in other ways. Cardona, currently the Connecticut commissioner of education, championed the importance of public schools schools without criticizing charter schools or private school choice.

And in response to questions from several Republican senators who questioned the fairness of transgender female students competing in girls’ athletic contests, Cardona insisted that schools had an obligation to provide transgender students the chance to participate in activities like sports.

“My passion is really to ensure quality schools, period,” Cardona said, highlighting his own experience working in public schools.”I’m a strong proponent of making sure all schools are quality schools. Most parents want to send their children to their neighborhood school.”

He told lawmakers in Spanish, “In unity there is strength.” And he pledged to senators, “We will work to reopen schools safely.”

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