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Biden picks ‘social justice’ teacher for education secretary, ahead of expectations of Trump’s ‘critical race theory’ ban reversal

Biden picks ‘social justice’ teacher for education secretary, ahead of expectations of Trump’s ‘critical race theory’ ban reversal
Joe Biden has chosen Miguel Cardona as his pick for education secretary. Cardona ups the diversity count of Biden’s prospective cabinet, but supports bringing controversial race-focused lessons into the classroom.

Announcing his pick on Wednesday, Biden boasted that Cardona – a Latino – adds to his “historic cabinet,” which features more minorities and women than any in history. “It’s a cabinet that looks like America, taps into the best of America, and opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation,” Biden declared.

Cardona was born to Puerto Rican immigrants, and spent the majority of his career teaching at public schools in Connecticut. Biden stuck to social justice themes when he described Cardona’s efforts to root out the “deep roots of inequity” in the educational system.

In his latest position as Connecticut’s education commissioner, Cardona has placed that struggle front and center. Earlier this year he mandated the teaching of African American, Black, Latino and Puerto Rican studies in high schools throughout the state, calling on schools to take “real action” and teach it to all students, not only as an elective to minorities.

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Cardona earned a doctorate in education in 2011 for a paper urging politicians to focus their political will on closing the achievement gap between minority students and whites by “advancing principles of social justice leadership” in schools, in order to “create equitable outcomes for all students.”

Cardona’s paper was written nearly a decade ago, and in the time since, his ideas have crossed over into the mainstream. Top universities in the US have declared math and English punctuation and grammar“racist” in order to achieve academic equality, while ‘critical race theory’ – the academic discipline responsible for such terms as ‘white privilege’ and ‘unconscious bias’ – has been taught everywhere from high schools to corporate boardrooms to government bureaus.

A lawsuit filed in Nevada on Tuesday alleges that students attending critical race theory workshops in several public schools in the state were forced to “accept and affirm politicized and discriminatory principles and statements” about their race and gender, and were threatened with failing grades if they didn’t comply.

President Trump has already banned the promotion of critical race theory in government agencies, calling its racially divisive message “un-American.” 

Cardona is highly unlikely to expand this ban to schools, given his track record. Indeed, as the media reacted to Cardona’s nomination, some academics and diversity consultants cheered it on as a sign that Biden would push for more race-focused programs in education and beyond.

“I hope Biden’s next step is to dismantle Trump’s ban on Critical Race Theory,” City College of New York professor Terri Watson told Diverse Education. Biden is widely expected to do so when he takes office next month.

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