Across the country, the overwhelming majority of educators and parents agree with safely reopening, even if that means wearing masks. There's a vocal minority that feels very confident in communicating their displeasure. And they find ways to do that in a way that gets the headline. — Education Secretary Miguel Cardona
Across the country, the overwhelming majority of educators and parents agree with safely reopening, even if that means wearing masks. There's a vocal minority that feels very confident in communicating their displeasure. And they find ways to do that in a way that gets the headline. — Education Secretary Miguel Cardona
Biden's education secretary to Insider: Trump supporters are using critical race theory and mask mandates as 'a proxy for being mad that their guy didn't win'
  • Education Secretary Miguel Cardona toured the Midwest last week.
  • He's touting a safe return to school amid the pandemic.
  • He also finds himself at the center of the COVID culture wars.
Cardona's job is particularly fraught at the moment. In June, Republican members of the House Education and Labor Committee peppered him with questions about critical race theory, the decades-old academic movement proposing that racism is built into American institutions. "It's important that I reiterate at every opportunity I have that the federal government doesn't get involved in curriculum," Cardona responded in the hearing. He added that he trusted teachers to do their jobs. "I think we can do that while also being honest about some of the things we're not proud of."

In September, Cardona's focus was on a bigger issue. Not long after 50 million children returned to public schools amid a pandemic, Cardona found himself aboard a tricked-out tour bus, one bound for schools in five states across the Midwest. As the Department of Education promotes its "Return to School Roadmap," Cardona wanted to encourage staffers, students, educators, and parents and tout his boss' American Rescue Plan programs aimed at helping students with COVID-era challenges.

The week before he embarked on this bus tour, some 226,000 children had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It was the third-highest peak of the pandemic. The same day he visited these Indiana schools, the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights sent a letter to Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath announcing an investigation into the state's prohibitions on universal indoor masking. Meanwhile, in states like Indiana, school boards are recessing early from the public-comment portions of their meetings, citing safety concerns. Others are cutting them from the agenda entirely.

... Aboard the bus, ensconced in his rolling conference room, Cardona told me he was more frustrated with adults than the children whose public education he's responsible for delivering.

"Across the country, the overwhelming majority of educators and parents agree with safely reopening, even if that means wearing masks," he said. "There's a vocal minority that feels very confident in communicating their displeasure. And they find ways to do that in a way that gets the headline."

Asked about riotous school-board meetings with citizens criticizing mask and vaccine mandates and asking questions about critical race theory and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, Cardona unleashed.

"I think it's a proxy for being mad that their guy didn't win," Cardona told me.


He conceded that it wasn't entirely different from what happened in 2010 amid the birth of the tea party with the Obama administration's support for Common Core, a set of widely embraced K-12 education standards in math and language arts that tea partiers assailed at similar local meetings.

... "It looks like education is becoming, in some places, a battleground for ideological differences," Cardona said. "But at the end of the day, for me, it's about reopening schools and getting students in front of a teacher. I have complete confidence in our educators and our school leaders to make good decisions around exposing our students to not only what makes them unique but what makes this country special. This country was founded on different ideas coming together. And we can do it in a manner that unites. If anything, the adults can learn from the students on how to do it well."
Read the full article: https://www.businessinsider.com/miguel-cardona-education-secretary-biden-critical-race-theory-mask-mandates-2021-9