Biden Ed Secretary Miguel Cardona Prioritizes Equity, Inclusiveness in Major Address

Cardona
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Biden Education Secretary Miguel Cardona offered Thursday his four primary priorities for education in America in an address that centered on ensuring equity and inclusiveness in public schools and providing supports for students from lower income neighborhoods.

Cardona explained his four priorities for education:

  1. Support students through pandemic response and recovery.

Cardona said he supports keeping schools open, but added while that is “critical,” it remains “insufficient,” because “our status in the world is at stake” if America does not improve.

“Our task is not only to improve our education system from where it was before the pandemic, but also to take bolder action to elevate it to lead the world,” he stated, adding:

Thanks to President Biden and Vice President Harris’s leadership in passing the American Rescue Plan and providing $130 billion, schools have the resources to not only stay open, but invest in recovery. We moved with urgency and I am proud to say that 100% of the funds are now in the states hands for use to support our students, families, and educators.

“It’s our moment, not only to keep schools open, but also to address the inequities that have existed in our school systems for far too long,” Cardona said.

  1. Boldly address opportunity and achievement gaps.

Cardona said his department will address achievement gaps by increasing funding for Title I schools and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

He will also advocate for free, universal pre-K and “affordable high quality, inclusive child care,” promote investment in a diverse educator workforce, and challenge states and local school districts “to fix broken systems that may perpetuate inequities in our schools.”

Many education leaders prior to Cardona have made shrinking the achievement gap a focal point of their agenda.

In November, the Heritage Foundation Center for Education Policy revealed a measure of long-term trends in the assessment of 13-yar-olds’ reading and math achievement shows a statistically significant drop in scores over the past eight years, yet another outcome that points to the failure of the Common Core State Standards, the last major progressive education reform, one that was promoted and incentivized by the Obama administration, and was hailed as a means to shrink the achievement gap.

Another study, released in April 2020 by the Boston-based Pioneer Institute, found a historic drop in national reading and math scores among U.S. students since the adoption of the Common Core State Standards a decade ago.

Performance in reading and math since Common Core was found to have especially declined in the nation’s lowest-achieving students – many of whom come from low-income families and failing public schools – thereby widening the achievement gap and creating further inequality.

Although Cardona referred to families as “core partners to educators,” he continues to avoid stating that parents are the “primary” stakeholders in children’s education:

Cardona asserted it was time “to finally make education the great equalizer … the force that can help every student thrive, no matter their background, zip code, circumstance, or language they speak at home.”

Nevertheless, he failed to promote school choice, allowing students to be funded directly to enable their parents to decide the best education setting for them.

“Government schools are already segregated,” noted school choice champion Corey A. DeAngelis on Twitter. “The most advantaged already have a choice; funding students directly empowers more families to access alternatives; school choice is an equalizer.”

  1. Make higher education more inclusive and affordable.

The secretary continues to seek student loan relief and assurances that student borrowers “have loan payment options that reflect their economic circumstances.”

“That’s why our administration has already cancelled $15 billion in student loan debt – more than any other Administration in history, and that’s only in our first year in office,” he touted.

  1. Ensure the pathways through higher education lead to successful careers.

Cardona is focused on “reimagining the connection” between Pre-K-12, higher education, and the workforce.

He seeks further investment in colleges and universities that “serve underrepresented groups.”

While Cardona appears to be laser-focused on carrying out the Biden administration’s equity narrative, over a thousand of America’s top scientists and mathematicians have signed onto an open letter, expressing “alarm” at the likely disastrous consequences of woke K-12 math curricula such as that found in the “Equitable Math’ framework proposed in California.

The scientists asserted in the letter:

Such frameworks aim to reduce achievement gaps by limiting the availability of advanced mathematical courses to middle schoolers and beginning high schoolers. While such reforms superficially seem “successful” at reducing disparities at the high school level, they are merely “kicking the can” to college.

As Breitbart News reported, several math scholars who signed the letter separately gave a stern warning about the “deplorable” state of K-12 math education in the United States, as schools prioritize social justice and diversity over merit, thereby allowing China to successfully advance as the world’s leader in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Pointing to the California revised Mathematics Framework, the math scholars wrote the plan could “do away with any tracking or differentiation of students up to the 11th grade”:

In order to achieve what the authors call “equity” in math education, the framework would effectively close the main pathway to calculus in high school to all students except those who take extra math outside school—which, in practice, means students from families that can afford enrichment programs (or those going to charter and private schools).

“[A]t many of our leading academic and research institutions, including the National Academies of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health,” they continued, “scientific excellence is being supplanted by diversity as the determining factor for eligibility in regard to prizes and other distinctions.”

Observing the “constant stream of ill-advised and dumbed-down ‘reforms’” that have pervaded American public schools, the math scholars described them as having “served to degrade the teaching of mathematics to such an extent that it has become difficult to distinguish a student who is capable from one who is not.”

Cardona delivered his address two weeks after emails obtained via a public information request alleged he solicited the now revoked letter from National School Boards Association (NSBA) officials to Biden that targeted parents voicing concerns about education issues as potential “domestic terrorists.”

A Department of Education spokesperson has denied that claim.

“While the secretary did not solicit a letter from NSBA, to understand the views and concerns of stakeholders, the department routinely engages with students, teachers, parents, district leaders and education associations,” the spokesperson said in an email to The Washington Times.

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