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Watch: Key Takeaways from Miguel Cardona’s Confirmation Hearing for Education Secretary

By Evie Blad — February 04, 2021 2 min read
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The Senate’s education committee questioned Miguel Cardona this week in a confirmation hearing on his nomination to become U.S. secretary of education.

In this video, Education Week’s Andrew Ujifusa and Evie Blad run down a few key moments in the hearing and how they fit into the greater education debate.

When you’re done watching, read our detailed story about Wednesday’s hearing, and dive into these related links to learn more.

Who is Miguel Cardona?

Miguel Cardona currently serves as Connecticut’s education commissioner. Previously, he served as a teacher, principal, and district administrator in his hometown of Meriden, Conn. Read more in our profile of Cardona.

What did Cardona say about COVID-19?

The coronavirus, and related school closures, was understandably the focus on many questions during Wednesday’s hearing. Cardona pointed back to his experience in Connecticut, where he said he sought to give schools clear, concrete guidance about how to safely reopen schools as he championed in-person learning. He also said schools need more resources, including funding to support students’ mental health, as they respond to the pandemic. Read more about the Biden administration’s plan to reopen schools.

What’s the background on the state test debate?

Some educators have questioned whether it’s practical to administer federally mandated state tests this year. State education officials have asked the Biden administration for waivers from some accountability requirements, but some lawmakers have insisted they are necessary to monitor how much students have learned during the crisis. Pressed by senators on opposing sides of the debate, Cardona didn’t fully commit to a position, but suggested he will collect more input from states. Read more about state assessment during the pandemic.

Why so many questions about transgender students?

The Biden administration differs from the Trump administration on how a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on employment discrimination applies to related education laws. Specifically at issue: whether or not bans on sex discrimination in schools protect the rights of transgender students to play on sports teams that align with their gender identity. The topic also touches on a broader debate that spans presidential administrations: How prescriptive and aggressive should federal agencies be in ensuring student civil rights? Read more about the growing debate over transgender student athletes. And read this story on the Biden administration’s approach to education civil rights.

What comes next?

The education committee will soon schedule a vote on Cardona’s nomination, and then it will go to the full Senate for final approval. Ranking member Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, a Republican, called Cardona “eminently qualified,” and Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray of Washington urged a swift confirmation.

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