Senate Votes to Confirm Dr. Miguel Cardona to Serve as Education Secretary
Senate confirms Dr. Cardona by a bipartisan vote of 64-33
Senator Murray: “At this moment of crisis, Dr. Cardona is exactly the leader we need at the Department of Education.”
***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S FULL REMARKS HERE***
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Dr. Miguel Cardona to serve as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education by a bipartisan vote of 64-33. In remarks on the Senate floor, Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), voiced her strong support for Dr. Cardona, noting that his experience and background will allow him to hit the ground running to help schools and students respond to and recover from COVID-19. Senator Murray highlighted that Dr. Cardona will also fight to make sure going forward, every student can get a high-quality public education and achieve their higher education goals, while addressing systemic racism and other longstanding inequities in our education system.
“From early education to higher education, we need to make sure students and their families have the support they need to not only make ends meet, but to make sure every student can thrive,” said Senator Murray in her remarks. “At this moment of crisis, Dr. Cardona is exactly the leader we need at the Department of Education to tackle these challenges. During his confirmation hearing with the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, he demonstrated beyond a doubt that he has the experience, principles, and perspective we need for this critical role.”
In her remarks, and during Dr. Cardona’s confirmation hearing, Senator Murray highlighted that unlike the former Secretary of Education, Dr. Cardona has the classroom experience and background necessary to fight for public education and be a champion for all students—including those who have not had a champion at the Department of Education for the last four years.
Senator Murray stressed that, “Dr. Cardona would come to the Department as a proven leader who will work with students, parents, and caregivers, educators, school administrators, and state, local, and Tribal officials. And just as importantly, he would come to the Department as a former elementary school teacher, adjunct professor, principal, assistant superintendent, and former English learner himself, who knows that we have a responsibility to make sure every single student has access to a high-quality public education.”
Senator Murray’s full remarks can be found below.
“Thank you M. President.
“I rise today to voice my strong support for Dr. Cardona’s nomination to serve as Secretary of Education.
“Across the country, students, parents, and educators are in crisis. And every day without an experienced leader at the Department of Education, is a day we are losing precious ground.
“Back in Washington state, I’ve heard from a mother in Yakima whose children shared one iPhone to learn, a father of a high school freshman in Spokane worried about the social and psychological toll the pandemic is taking on his son, and about students from the Lummi Nation trying to focus on remote classes while in multi-generational households on shared, spotty broadband.
“And I know there are so many similar stories from people in my state, and across the country, about how this pandemic is making life harder.
“The ways it has set back students from where they would be in a typical year, denied them access to critical school resources, deepened longstanding inequities, and so much more.
“From early education to higher education, we need to make sure students and their families have the support they need to not only receive a high-quality education, but to make sure every student can thrive.
“Democrats want to get students safely back into classrooms for in-person learning as soon as possible. So I’m glad the Biden Administration has put forward clear, science-based, public health guidance like schools have long needed.
“While there’s no one solution that will ensure safety on its own—as our country ramps up vaccine distribution—Congress must do its part and pass the American Rescue Plan to provide vital funding for schools to secure adequate P-P-E, reduce class sizes to increase social distancing, improve ventilation, contact trace and take all the steps they need to, so they can safely reopen for in-person learning, or provide high-quality distance learning if it is not safe to return to the classroom.
“And so they can assess and address the damage this pandemic has done— and especially the ways it has deepened inequities that have hurt students of color, students and families with low incomes, students with disabilities, LGBTQ students, women, English learners, students experiencing homelessness, and so many others.
“At this moment of crisis, Dr. Cardona is exactly the leader we need at the Department of Education to tackle these challenges.
“During his confirmation hearing with the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, he demonstrated beyond a doubt that he has the experience, principles, and perspective we need for this critical role.
“That’s why Dr. Cardona was voted out of our Committee by an overwhelming 17-5 margin, with broad bipartisan support.
“Dr. Cardona would come to the Department as a proven leader who will work with students; parents and caregivers; educators and school administrators; and state, local, and Tribal officials.
“And just as importantly, he would come to the Department as a former elementary school teacher, adjunct professor, principal, assistant superintendent, and former English learner himself, who knows that we have a responsibility to make sure every single student has access to a high-quality public education.
“At our hearing, he made clear he will fight against longstanding inequities and for every student—including those who have not had a champion at the Department these last four years.
“He spoke about his commitment to accomplishing President Biden’s goal of safely reopening the majority of our K-8 schools for in-person learning within his first 100 days in office…
“And he showed he understands the challenge the Department is facing is larger than just seeing schools, students, parents, and educators safely through this pandemic it is making sure we come back stronger and fairer.
“Accomplishing that means ensuring child care and early education is available and affordable to every family, ensuring every student can get a high-quality public education, no matter where they live or how much money they or their families have, rooting out long standing inequities from our education system by tackling racism, sexism, ableism, and bigotry head-on, and ensuring that higher education is accessible, affordable, accountable, and safe for every single student.
“M. President, we have a lot of work to do for our schools and students, we have an excellent candidate to help us get it done, and we have no time to waste.
“I urge every one of my colleagues who has heard from a parent who wants to get their child back to the classroom safely—and I am sure everyone has—to join me and vote to confirm Dr. Cardona as Secretary of Education.”
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