Dec 23, 2020
Joe Biden Announces Nominee For Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona: Transcript
Joe Biden introduced his nomination for Education Secretary in a December 23 press conference. Read the full transcript of Biden’s introduction of Miguel Cardona. Read the full transcript here.
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Joe Biden: (00:01)
I’m Joe Biden. I’m Dr. Joe Biden’s husband. Just like educators everywhere, being an educator is what she does. It’s who she is. Once again, during this pandemic we’ve seen who are educators are. They’re selfless, they’re dedicated, they’re cut from a true cloth of character and commitment. They represent one of the most critical professions in America, and that’s not hyperbole, that’s a fact. From the cradle to career, they give people of all ages, the confidence to be believe in themselves, to equip them to succeed. And as Jill says, any country that out educates us is going to out-compete us. And this critical moment of our nation’s history, it’s essential that there is an educator serving as secretary of education. I want to make that clear again, an educator, someone who’s taught in the classroom, who comes out of the classroom.
Joe Biden: (00:55)
Today, I’m pleased to announce that such a nominee we have, Dr. Miguel Cardona. Like other cabinet nominees and appointees, he’s brilliant, he’s qualified, and he’s tested. And he’s going to join the Biden-Harris cabinet, and it’s going to be a historic cabinet. Already there are more people of color in this cabinet than any cabinet in the history of the United States. There are more women than ever. First openly gay cabinet member. It’s a cabinet that looks like America. It taps into the best of America. That opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation. And like the rest of the team, Dr. Cardona is ready on day one. Vice president elect Harris and I we were going through, what who… You’re on this side, I apologize. We were going through this and we’re doing it on Zoom, who we were going to pick, and we’re getting all this advice, and we looked at each other and we said, “No, no, no. It’s Cardona.” It was really easy.
Joe Biden: (01:50)
So vice president elect knew we needed an education secretary who truly understands what it’s been like for educators, administrators, families, caregivers, and students this past year. They worry, they’re under stress, they stretched local budgets that have left educators out of work. There’s mixed signals from the White House that have left more confusion than calm. And they left so many parents and schools feeling like they’re on their own, but we also need someone who knows what it takes to get through this crisis. Reopening the schools safely will be a national priority for the Biden-Harris administration.
Joe Biden: (02:32)
Early next year, I will put forward, before the Congress, our plan as to what comes next. But I ensure you it includes funding to keep educators on the job, just like we did during the Recovery Act, and it saved 400,000 education jobs, and the future of millions of children. It also includes asking Congress to provide funding needed so we can achieve the ambitious, but doable goal, of safely opening majority of our schools by the end of our first 100 days. We can do this. If states and cities put strong public health measures in place that we can all follow. For example, in our first 100 days I’ll be asking all Americans to mask up for 100 days. We’ll require a mask in federal buildings, interstate travel, and the like and on trains where I have the authority to insist that happen.
Joe Biden: (03:23)
We’re also been talking to governors and mayors and county executives of both parties to try to do the same in their cities and their states. We can do it if we get the schools, districts, communities, and states, the clear guidance and the resources they need for so many things that aren’t in their already tight budgets. They need funding for testing, tell people reopen schools, more funding for transportation so students can maintain social distancing on school buses. There’s a need for school buildings for additional cleaning services, protective equipment, ventilation systems, but to lead the national effort requires an education sector, secretary, excuse me, with the skills to partner with educators across the country in states, localities, and tribal nations, and all across students and families as well. It also requires someone to understand that the need to prevent the pandemic from further exacerbating the inequities in our education system that represents a compounding problem we’re having. They hold back children, hold back educators, they hold back our country from filling its potential.
Joe Biden: (04:33)
Take remote learning. How could it be in America that parents must drive to a parking lot of a coffee shop or a library for wifi that they can’t afford at home, so their children can sit in the car, participate in class and do their homework over the net. This gap of broadband technology and the opportunity that some kids cost them a full year, a full year or more of learning. That’s unacceptable in the United States of America. We need to act now. And it’s only just the start. We needed some of the experience to help us build back better with the Biden-Harris education plan.
Joe Biden: (05:13)
We need to make sure that every child in this nation has access to a good education regardless of their zip code. I know you’re probably tired of me saying that, but it’s critically important. I’ve been saying it for over a year, regardless of any disability, that’s why my plan triples funding for title one schools, which serve the highest number of children from low income families. We need to make sure every child will have access to high quality universal pre-K. I’m not talking about daycare, I’m talking about universal pre-K that is starting at age three, four. We need to finally pay teachers what they deserve. The work they do is of extreme national importance and their salaries should reflect that. But they can’t do it alone. So we’re going to make an unprecedented investment to double the number of school psychologists, counselors, nurses, and social workers in our schools.
Joe Biden: (06:08)
When trained professionals are helping care for students’ mental health and behavioral needs, along with concerns around things like housing and food, it frees up educators to focus on teaching and the other critical work that teachers do in the classroom. We’ll make sure students with disabilities have the support to succeed by fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. We’re going to upgrade school infrastructures to make sure classrooms are safe. Build schools that are hubs of innovation and cutting edge learning. We know that in the 21st century, 12 years of schooling is not enough, and that young people are getting crushed by the burden of student debt.
Joe Biden: (06:54)
Under the legislation we’re going to be proposing, we’re going to have a number of policies to provide affordable higher education to alleviate that financial burden. This includes anyone being able to get into a community college, you’d be able to go there for free. Public colleges and universities will be tuition free for families earning less than $125,000. We’re going to cut student loan payments in half by using those income-based payments. If you’re making $25,000 or less per year, you won’t owe a dime of payment or interest while you’re only at that level. If you make more than that, you only pay a small percentage of your income in order to be able to pay off your debt. Our legislative plan also means that if you choose to go into public service, whether you’re a teacher, a paramedic, counseling victims of domestic violence, or whatever else, it’s only right that our country wipe out your student debt all together over time. It includes forgiving debt for undergraduate public tuition if you’re earning less than $125,000 a year. It means immediately forgiving $10,000 in student debt in the midst of this economic crisis. We’ll also invest more than $70 billion in historic black colleges and universities and minority serving institutions to help prepare these graduates, like our vice president elect, for good paying jobs in industries of the future. There’s so much we can do. So much that we can afford to do it.
Joe Biden: (08:24)
We can build an economy that eases the financial burden of the caregiving crisis. Make sure working families don’t pay more than 7% of their income on childcare for their young children. And like we did during the Obama-Biden administration, we can combat campus sexual assault under Title IX, something the Trump administration and the current secretary of education have only undermined.
Joe Biden: (08:51)
The bottom line is we can achieve all these critical things, but we need someone who gets that education isn’t just what we do as a nation. It’s who we are. It’s who we are. It’s a reason why we were one of the first nations in the world to have universal education. It was the reason why we got propelled in the twentieth century to begin to lead the world economically. And that person who understands this, I’m proud to announce, is former secretary of education. Now, well, I’m talking about his existing job, actually it’s not called education, but anyway, the secretary of education that we nominate is Dr. Miguel Cardona, fourth grade public school teacher, the youngest principal in the State of Connecticut. First official Latino to serve as the education commissioner, I started to call him the secretary of education, education commissioner.
Joe Biden: (09:45)
Dr. Cardona rose up the ranks to become I’m an assistant superintendent in the same school district he attended as an English learner student. The same district where he was born in public housing. The son and grandson of parents and grandparents who moved from Puerto Rico in search of new opportunities. He made it a point of taking new teachers on tours of his district’s neighborhoods. The wealthy blocks where students grew up with every resource they needed to get ahead. And the blocks where families are struggling to get by. Where a new calculator, or a nutritious breakfast weren’t a given. He understands that the deep roots of inequity that exists as a source of our persistent opportunities gaps. He understands the transformative power that comes from investing in public education. In our conversations, Dr. Cardona talked about how public education was the great equalizer. It gave him a chance to reach the dream his parents and grandparents had for him. A place where a high school teacher inspired him to be an educator.
Joe Biden: (10:56)
Public education, it helped Miguel become one of the first in his family to go to college. The first. The first to earn a doctorate, and with that preparation and grounding, Dr. Cardona has brought his heart, his knowledge, and his passion for education to bear on behalf of the students across Connecticut. And when that pandemic struck, he was ready, he helped secure more than 140,000 laptops. More than 40,000 internet connections for students who lacked them. Because of him, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to ensure that every single public school student was equipped to engage in remote learning, regardless of family income.
Joe Biden: (11:39)
As the months passed, he followed health guidance and he got the funding and the resource to provide masks and plexiglass and testing so schools could reopen and operate safely. That’s the vision. Resolve and initiative all going to help us contain this pandemic and reopen our schools safely and build back better. And it’s a standard of care that comes from having taught in a classroom. That comes from a hardworking family who found their way in America through public education. It comes from someone who knows from his core that our nation’s children are the kite strings that lift our national ambitions aloft. He is a secretary of education for this moment. I thank him and his family for accepting this call to serve. We can not do this without them, or him. To the career staff in the Department of Education, you’ll have a fantastic and trusted leader who will help you carry out the department’s mission with honor and integrity. The honor and integrity of an educator. And to the American people, to educators, families, caregivers, and students, help is on the way. I wish all of you, a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday. May God bless you all, and may God protect our troops.
Joe Biden: (13:05)
I’m going to turn you over to the next secretary of education, Dr. Miguel Cardona.
Miguel Cardona: (13:39)
Mr. President Elect, Madam Vice President Elect, thank you for this opportunity to serve. I know how challenging this year has been for students, for educators, and for parents. I’ve lived those challenges alongside millions of American families. Not only in my role as state education commissioner, but as a public school parent, and as a former public school classroom teacher. For so many of our schools and far too many of our students, this unprecedented year has piled on crisis after crisis. It’s taken some of our most painful, long standing disparities and wrenched them open even wider. It’s taxed our teachers, our leaders, our school professionals and staff who already pour so much of themselves into their work. It’s taxed families struggling to adapt to new routines as they balance the stress, pain, and loss that this year has given. It has taxed young adults trying to chase their dreams to advance their education beyond high school, and carve out their place in the economy of tomorrow. And it is stolen time from our children who’ve lost something sacred and irreplaceable this year despite the heroic efforts so many of our nations educators.
Miguel Cardona: (15:10)
Though we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. We also know that this crisis is ongoing, that we will carry its impacts for years to come. And that the problems and inequities that have plagued our educational system since long before COVID will still be with us even after the virus has gone. So it’s our responsibility, it’s our privilege to take this moment and to do the most American thing imaginable, to forge opportunity out of crisis, to draw on our resolve, our ingenuity, and our tireless optimism as a people and build something better than we’ve ever had before. That’s a choice Americans make every day. It’s a choice that defines us as Americans. It’s the choice my grandparents made. [Javelino 00:16:08] and Maria [de la Pass 00:00:16:08] Cardona and [Hermana Mones Rosa 00:16:12], when they made their way from Aguada, Puerto Rico for new opportunities in Connecticut.
Miguel Cardona: (16:20)
I’m proud to say I was born at the Yale Lakers housing projects. That’s where my parents, Hector and Sarah Cardona instilled early on the importance of hard work, service to community, and education. I was blessed to attend the public schools in my hometown of Meriden, Connecticut, where I was able to expand my horizons and become the first in my family to graduate college and become a teacher, a principal, and assistant superintendent in the same community that gave me so much. That is the power of America.
Miguel Cardona: (16:58)
And I, being bilingual and bicultural am as American as apple pie and rice and beans. For me, education was the great equalizer, but for too many students, your zip code and your skin color remained the best predictor of the opportunities you’ll have in your lifetime. We’ve allowed what the educational scholar, Pedro Noguera calls the normalization of failure to hold back too many of America’s children. For far too long we’ve allowed students to graduate from high school without any idea of how to meaningfully engage in the workforce, while good paying high, skilled, technical, and trade jobs go unfilled. For far too long we’ve spent money on interventions and band-aids to address disparities instead of laying a wide strong foundation of quality, universal, early childhood education and quality, social, and emotional supports for all of our learners. For far too long we’ve let college become inaccessible to too many Americans for reasons that have nothing to do with their aptitude or aspirations, and everything to do with cost burdens. And unfortunately, an internalized culture of low expectations for some. For far too long we’ve worked in silos, failing to share our breakthroughs and our successes in education. We need schools to be places of innovation, knowing that this country was built on innovation. And for far too long, the teaching profession has been kicked around and not given the respect it deserves.
Miguel Cardona: (18:43)
It shouldn’t take a pandemic for us to realize how important teachers are for this country. There are no shortages of challenges ahead. No shortage of problems for us to solve, but by the same token, there are countless opportunities for us to seize. We must embrace the opportunity to reimagine education and build it back better. We must evolve it to meet the needs of our students. There’s a saying in Spanish that we say, we say, [foreign language 00:19:15]. We gain strength from joining together. In that spirit, I look forward to sitting at the table with educators, parents, caregivers, students, advocates, state, local, and tribal leaders. There’s no higher duty for a nation then to build better paths, better futures for the next generation to explore. For too many students, public education in America has been a [foreign language 00:19:49]. A wilted rose. Neglected, in need of care. We must be the master gardeners who cultivate it, who work every day to preserve its beauty and its purpose.
Miguel Cardona: (20:05)
I’m grateful for the chance to take on this responsibility. And I’m grateful to my own children, Miguel Jr., Or as we call him Angelito. To my daughter, Celine, and to my wife and best friend, Marissa, herself, a middle school family school liaison. And I’m grateful for the trust you’ve placed in me, Mr. President Elect and Madam Vice President Elect. I look forward to getting to work on behalf of America’s children and the families and the communities and the nation they will grow up to inherit and lead.
Miguel Cardona: (20:48)
Kamala Harris: (21:11)
My first grade teacher, Mrs. Francis Wilson, God rest her soul, attended my law school graduation. She taught our first grade class with two teacher’s aides and 22 students in the classroom. And she instilled in me a deep belief in the importance and significance of public education that I carry with me to this day.
Kamala Harris: (21:39)
If we are going to fulfill our country’s promise, we must be dedicated to a strong public education system. We must value it, we must strengthen it, and we must invest in it. Because one of the most important gifts a society can give its young people is the gift of a world-class education. We also know that right now, our education system, as we have discussed, from early learning centers to colleges and universities is reeling from this pandemic. Parents and educators are being stretched to their limits. And so are the cafeteria workers, and the bus drivers, and custodians, and nurses who normally keep our schools running. Students at colleges and technical colleges now worry about losing credits, losing financial aid, and losing income from working on campus. And all of this disruption is taking a heavy toll on the mental health and wellbeing of our students of all ages who are at risk of falling behind.
Kamala Harris: (22:52)
At the same time, this pandemic threatens to widen disparities between students of different races and backgrounds, making it harder for those who already were behind to keep up. So first things first, we need to get this virus under control and reopen our schools safely as the president elect always says. And that is why the president elect and I are supporting funding for our education system in this recently passed COVID-19 relief legislation, and we will continue to fight for additional emergency relief for our educators and our schools. And even as we do, we must also build a public education system that lifts up all Americans, regardless of race, background, or zip code. An education system that prepares them with the knowledge and the skills to thrive in a 21st century economy. We must make sure our children are getting the foundation that’s so important for lifelong success. We must end the current status quo where school districts with the greatest needs get the fewest resources. And we must remove barriers to opportunity for poor and rural communities and communities of color.
Kamala Harris: (24:16)
The leader that we have announced today will help us do that and unlock the power of an education for all Americans. Dr. Miguel Cardona is not only a seasoned public servant, he is also a former public school teacher and administrator with the experience in the classroom. And he knows what our students, teachers, and schools need to be successful. He has dedicated his career to fighting for our children, and dedicated his career to investing in their capacity. And he has a deep belief in the power of a world-class education to help every child everywhere overcome barriers of race, gender, or income to reach their God-given potential. Dr. Cardona represents the very best of our nation and he is the kind of leader America’s students, educators, and families deserve.
Kamala Harris: (25:22)
I’ve always believed that government has three principle functions, public health, public safety, and public education. Over the course of the past few weeks, we have announced remarkable leaders who will help contain this pandemic and keep the American people safe, and secure. Under Dr. Cardona’s leadership, we will work together to put together an outstanding education system that will be within reach for everyone, breaking down barriers to equality, opening new paths to opportunity, and helping to fulfill America’s promise to all of our children.
Kamala Harris: (26:02)
Thank you, Mr. President Elect. Thank you.
Speaker 4: (26:04)
Mr. President Elect, do you support going up to $2,000 for the [inaudible 00:26:14] checks?
Speaker 5: (26:16)
Mr. President [inaudible 00:26:16] COVID relief.
Speaker 6: (26:16)
How will you make good on your promise no one in your family will have foreign businesses. Hunter has [inaudible 00:26:23]. Chinese holdings.
Speaker 7: (26:16)