In the press conference Wednesday to announce Cardona’s nomination, Biden began by introducing himself as, “Dr. Jill Biden’s husband. Just like educators everywhere, being an educator isn’t what she does; it’s who she is. Once again, during this pandemic, we have seen who our educators are. They are selfless; they are dedicated; they are cut from a true cloth of character and commitment. They represent one of the most critical professions in America, and that’s not hyperbole. That’s a fact.”
Saying the nation’s schools are at a critical moment, Biden said it’s vital the new secretary of education brings a background as a teacher, as Cardona does.
“He is a secretary of education for this moment,” said Biden. “He is brilliant. He is qualified. He is tested. We knew we needed a secretary of education who truly understands what it has been like for educators, administrators, families, caregivers and students this past year. They worry. They’re under stress. They struggle with local budgets that have left educators out of work. There are mixed signals from the White House that created more confusion than calm. We also need someone who knows what it takes to get through this crisis. Reopening schools safety will be a national priority for the Biden-Harris administration.”
Speaking after Biden, Cardona said, “I know how challenging this year has been for students, for educators and for parents. I’ve lived those challenges alongside millions of Americans families. Not only in my role as state education commissioner, but as a public-school parent and a former public-school classroom teacher. For so many of our schools and far too many of our students, this unprecedented year has piled on crisis after crisis. It’s taken some of our most painful longtime disparities and wrenched them open even wider.”
Addressing those disparities must be a priority for Cardona, said American University’s Taryn Morrissey, a child-development and education policy expert who studies early-childhood education and childhood development. She is a co-author of “Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality.”
“The pandemic has widened and highlighted gaps in our nation’s education system that have been pervasive for decades,” said Morrissey. “These problems are not new and not evenly felt, but now they are worse.”