The Secretary of Education is a high-ranking U.S. government position responsible for creating policies that help educate American citizens. The role is challenging, requiring a large staff and extensive knowledge of education and the profession. The Secretary’s job is to promote public education, which includes improving teacher quality and increasing student achievement.
Miguel Cardona is an American educator and the 12th United States Secretary of Education. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He was confirmed to the position by the U.S. Senate on March 1, 2021, with a 64-33 vote. Cardona is a lifelong educator and has advocated for public education for many years.
The Education Department oversees K-12 education, the federal student aid system, and higher education. Cardona has already announced a plan to amend Title IX, prohibiting discrimination against transgender students. The announcement came on the 50th anniversary of the anti-discrimination law. Cardona also announced several other proposals to improve education and help ensure children are prepared for their futures.
Cardona is a hard worker who listens well to stakeholders and puts equity above all else. He has a strong ally in the state’s education leaders and is dedicated to educating all children. He served on the committee that studied the achievement gap alongside former Education Commissioner Toni Harp. Cardona is also a parent and has three children in public schools.
Cardona’s background is diverse, having been a public school teacher, principal, and district administrator. He was most recently an assistant superintendent in his hometown district in Connecticut. Governor Ned Lamont appointed him to the post in August 2019. During the last school shooting in Connecticut, Cardona led efforts to ensure that all public schools were safe again. He also guided school districts while prioritizing public health mitigation measures.
A former principal, Cardona has a solid education knowledge base and a strong record of advocating for programs that help underserved learners. He will also be focused on tackling the digital divide and resource inequities. If confirmed by the Senate, Cardona will hit the ground running as Secretary of education. Biden has pledged to reopen schools within the first 100 days of the administration, which means Cardona will have to take stock of what long-term school closures have done and create plans to reopen them. In the meantime, he must address widening achievement gaps and a growing learning gap for low-income students.
Cardona’s peers paint him as a collaborative leader who seeks solutions by looking at the big picture. He believes in consensus-building and avoiding confrontation, which may be a dangerous combination in the political climate of Washington. His experience as a bilingual child helped him build bridges with his peers.
Cardona has worked as an administrator in an urban public school district, where he worked to ensure that all students had access to high-quality music education. This included ensuring that all students had access to instruments and comprehensive curricular experiences. Cardona strongly advocates equal access to the arts and collaborates with CMEA to support music education in California.
Cardona grew up playing bongo drums with his family. In college, he gained confidence and people skills. He felt comfortable in both the barrio and the boardroom. He was the first in his family to earn a college degree. He has two children.
As the Secretary of Education, Cardona will oversee the Department of Education’s policies on higher education. The Secretary of Education has more influence over higher education than K-12 education. His pick comes as Congress nears a deal on an $82 billion education bill. This will significantly affect the quality of education in the country.
Margaret Spellings is a politician and education administrator who served as United States Secretary of Education from 2005 to 2009. Before becoming a politician, she worked as the President of the University of North Carolina System and oversaw seventeen campuses. Spellings is widely known for her innovative approach to education reform and strong support for public schools.
Margaret Spellings earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Houston. She later served on the education reform commission of Texas Governor William P. Clements. She also served as an associate executive director of the Texas Association of School Boards. After serving as a senior adviser in Gov. George W. Bush’s first gubernatorial campaign, Spellings also became a senior adviser for the President during his time in office.
Spellings’ many achievements include initiating national policy debates about improving education, launching a comprehensive national action plan on higher education, and initiating international outreach efforts. She was also instrumental in developing several health and human service initiatives. In addition, she served in several key positions in the Texas legislature and the Texas Association of School Boards.
Spellings served as Secretary of Education for four years. She fought to implement the No Child Left Behind Act in this role. She was also responsible for launching the Commission on the Future of Higher Education. This Commission addresses the challenges associated with access, affordability, and quality in higher education. Before being appointed Secretary of education, Spellings was a senior adviser in the White House’s domestic policy office.
Spellings’ efforts may have worked in Texas, but in the long run, their efforts may have hurt the Education Department’s standing in other regions. The Texas Department of Education is known for its bragging about its efforts, but bragging and boasting won’t help the department’s standing in other regions. It may even alienate states working to enact the No Child Left Behind Act. This new Secretary of education will be charged with overseeing the 17 campuses of the system.
Margaret Spellings served as Secretary of Education for two years, from 2005 to 2009, a hectic period in her career. As a mother of school-aged children, she is a devoted advocate ensuring that students are prepared to succeed in the 21st century. In addition, she has been involved in education policy at all levels. In addition to working with states to implement the No Child Left Behind Act, she led the implementation of the American Competitiveness Initiative to improve math and science instruction. These initiatives have resulted in improved test scores and shrinking achievement gaps in states.