Education Secretary Cardona to hit the road, stopping at important maneuvering states
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will tour the eastern United States by bus next week to advance his priorities for this school year, including promote the teaching profession, Strengthen mental health support for students and help children regain lost learning foundation.
The five-day bus tour, part of an annual tradition of tracing back at least some of the education secretaries, aims to build on Cardona’s road trip last fall, which covered the midwest United States and focus on a successful return to face-to-face learning. A spokesman said next week’s tour will highlight the key issues of this school year as all students return to classrooms – in schools teeming with fleeting COVID relief funds. times but in many cases struggled to retain or recruit enough staff to work with students digging pandemic pits.
Cardona wrote in a Recent op-ed for USA TODAY. “We must recognize this moment for its urgency: Our students – and the progress of our country – depend on it.”
The bus tour can also sway voters and inspire Democrats to cast their ballots. Polls show Republicans are gain public trust on educational matters, that is primary care For voters this year, generate more interest than abortion and climate change. Much of Republican attention is focused on ideological debates, such as student access to certain books and discussions of LGBTQ+ issues in the classroom.
The itinerary for the road trip, shared exclusively with USA TODAY, shows that most of Cardona’s stops are in states or battleground communities that have had some of the most competitive elections this year. Both first lady Jill Biden, a professor and longtime education advocate, and second lady Douglas Emhoff will attend a number of events along the way.
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After a stop in Tennessee, Cardona will spend most of her first day, September 12, at higher education sites in Greensboro, North Carolina, at events focused on building the system. teachers and career paths.
Day two, with stops across Virginia, will highlight ways Rescue Plan America’s money is being used to support students with disabilities and those with mental health needs.
On Tuesday, September 14, Cardona will attend a mental health event in higher education in West Virginia, after which he will travel to Pennsylvania for a series of events that will run until the evening of May 15. 9. Among them: an engagement with teacher unions on Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which many educators qualify for but struggled to secure.
Both North Carolina and Pennsylvania are home to highly competitive US Senate races, There was once an incumbent Republican who was about to retire seats are at risk of tipping over this year. And two races in Virginia – in counties near two of the locations Cardona will visit next week – are scheduled to help identify Will Republicans took control of the US House of Representatives. Virginia’s suffrage race last year also focused heavily on education.
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The back-to-school bus rides, made by some of Cardona’s predecessors, both Republicans and Democrats, are often politically motivated. Although education secretaries have no constitutionally conferred authority over schools, they have used school-to-school trips to effectively lobby for the priorities of their party platform.
If nothing else, they took advantage of these tours to remind the public of the educational achievements of their respective administrations.
Diane Ravitch, an education historian and former assistant secretary of education, said in an email that the bus tours “make no policy sense.” She said they may have “intended to make a good impression”.
Back in 2007, then-Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings of George W. Bush did the “No Child Left Behind” bus tour. The polarizing federal education law was slated for reauthorization at the time, and Spellings spent three days on buses in Ohio and Indiana campaigning for the preservation of the policy’s core principals, includes a heavy reliance on standardized testing.
To kick off her 2019 back-to-school tour, then-Secretary Betsy DeVos – one of the least famous members of the Trump administration and a critic of traditional public education – visited a private school. Jack Schneider, an education historian and professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, said DeVos “didn’t do much in the policy transition”. But she has normalized once-radical ideas, such as taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools, Schneider noted.
According to Schneider, this year’s bus tour provides an opportunity for Democrats to “tell a different story” about public schools than the one “both parties have been telling for the past four decades,” from High-stakes trial to privatization. This new story, he said, could be about public schools as anchors of the community and the need to “preserve and sustain them at a time when they are increasingly under attack.”
“When Secretary Cardona begins his bus tour, he will be using the symbolic power of the office, rather than pulling any specific policy levers,” said Schneider. There’s not much he can do: Matters like recruiting and retaining teachers are mostly up to states and school districts.
“But the secretary can use the podium to try to direct attention and set the agenda on national policy.”
Contact Alia Wong at (202) 507-2256 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @aliaemily.