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Joe Biden appoints Miguel Cardona as his nominee to lead Department of Education as he pledged to reopen schools within 100days in office

by Mustapha Olamide
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Joe Biden has formally selected Miguel Cardona as his nominee to steer the Department of Education, which can be tasked with navigating the president-elect’s pledge to reopen most schools within his first 100 days in office because the US emerges from a deadly winter amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The president-elect will unveil an idea to Congress early next year to fund teachers and schools, widespread testing capacity, ventilation systems and more school buses to offer students proper physical distancing, all to assist “achieve an ambitious but doable goal of safely opening a majority of faculties by the top of our first 100 days.”

That plan also will reach a 100-day mask mandate, which the president can enforce on federal property and interstate travel. He also will issue guidance to state and native governments to implement similar rules.

He also suggested expanding broadband internet access to families who have relied on coffee shops or library parking lots for Wi-Fi during online classes, a niche in access that has “cost some kids a full year in learning,” he said in remarks from Delaware on Wednesday.

“That’s unacceptable,” he said. “We got to act now.”

Mr Cardona – a former public school teacher and administrator who currently is Connecticut’s schools chief – is that the third Latino nominee to hitch the president-elect’s incoming cabinet, which Mr Biden has promised would come with an educator in role as education secretary.

His pick is in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s long-standing cabinet official and billionaire Betsy DeVos, who has been criticised for overseeing the administration’s cuts to public schools and its suspension of civil rights protections for college kids .

“In this critical moment in our nation’s history, it’s essential that there’s a teacher serving as Secretary of Education,” Mr Biden said. “The mixed signals from the White House … have left more confusion than calm, and have left numerous parents and schools feeling like they’re on their own.”

Mr Biden renewed his commitment to raised funding for public schools, including psychological state counsellors to assist release educators to specialise in teaching, and paying teachers “what they deserve.”

“The work they are doing is of utmost national importance, and their salary should reflect that,” he said.

Mr Cardona grew up in Connecticut housing projects and taught grade school within the state’s public establishment , where he also served as a principal for 10 years. His two children also attend public school.

As the state’s school commissioner, he has condemned the “education emergency” within the wake of the general public health crisis and pushed for in-person instruction within the budget-constrained state, where roughly one-third of public school students are unable to attend school face to face full time.

“I skills challenging this year has been for college kids , educators and fogeys ,” he said on Wednesday. “For numerous of our schools and much too many of our parents, this unprecedented year has piled on crisis after crisis.”

He said the pandemic’s impacts have widened existing education disparities and taxed school staff and families adapting to new routines, “and it’s stolen time from our youngsters .”

The disparities will “still be with us even when the virus is gone,” he said.

In prepared remarks, he condemned a scarcity of vocational school opportunities and “inaccessible” education , also as a failure to take a position during a “wide, strong foundation” of universal infancy education and social and emotional support for college kids .

His nomination, supported by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and teachers union, has faced some criticism among teachers who don’t feel Mr Biden fulfilled his promise to appoint an educator to the office. While Mr Cardona does have in-class instruction experience, he has largely worked in administration.

Mr Biden also renewed a pledge to deal with student debt and subsidize higher-education costs.

The president-elect has proposed free community colleges and tuition-free public colleges for families earning but $125,000, with income-based student loan repayment plans for borrowers earning annual incomes of $25,000 or less.

He also has proposed wiping out student loan debts over time for people that add public service.

The president-elect’s administration has faced increasing pressure from Democrats to erase thousands of dollars in student loan debt through executive order directing the Education Secretary and Department of the Treasury to try to to so. One proposal among leading congressional Democrats involves Mr Biden to cancel $50,000 in federally held student debts, while progressives have urged him to cancel all debts through an executive order.

“There’s such a lot we will do, and that we can afford to try to to it,” he said.

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