tv Education Secretary Discusses Educational Equity CSPAN August 18, 2021 1:59am-2:31am EDT
issues with the washington post. he also talked about broadband access, pre-k education for all and reopening schools in the fall with cases of the covid-19 delta variance on the rise. this is 30 minutes. >> welcome to washington post live, and another installment opportunity and crisis series this time investing in educational equity. president biden has made equity a central role of the administration and a central figure in that effort is our guest today. he is the secretary of education, mr. cardona, welcome. >> thank you for having me. >> great to see you. since being confirmed, i understand you traveled to 16 states plus puerto rico in a territory that doesn't come to visiting schools and students. what have you learned during those trips? >> i learned number one the students are resilient and
educators are rock stars and that we want to come back to school safely but we missed the peer to peer interaction. we miss engaging with teachers and we want to come back to a system that is better than the one that we left in march of 2020. that's what i heard throughout the country and i'm excited to be in the position to support that and influence that with the build back better agenda, i am confident that we are going to get it done. >> there were a lot of buzz we words, peer to peer. let's talk about budget. you proposed $102.8 billion budgets you said it makes good on president biden's campaign commitment and would begin to address the on significant inequities that students of color and teachers confront
every day in underserved schools across america. so, let's talk more specifically about those and equities. it's going to take more than money to close the gap. so, what do you do, what are you going to do to close the gap? >> it's really important to contextualize it. in education over 23 years and the notion of doing less with commonplace we have a president now that understands that education is the foundation and not only do we want to address the inequities but we want to raise the bar across the country. resources alone are not going to cut it. we need to be bold and innovative as we reopen schools to give students opportunities in ways they didn't have it before. this is the closest to a reset button that we have ever had and
we had to take advantage of it. you mentioned community colleges in your proposed budget provides two years of free community college. how would this help level the playing field for particularly students living in a poor or disadvantaged communities? >> that is one of those strategies we know graduates of community colleges earn up to 20% more than high school graduates, so not only does it help them and their families but it helps the community. what we need to do is couple that strategy with the evolution of the schools to provide career pathways and connections to the colleges so that the students as early as middle school see themselves as college students and those programs connect to the four-year programs and to the workforce partners so that it can go full circle to help
and build a community. >> i'm going to push you on something here because while you are pushing for free community college who want to make student loans forgivable for the first two years of community college, why is his proposal not good enough in your eyes? >> i will let the details worked out senator manchin and others have been extremely supportive of making sure that we get it right. i know the details will be worked out but i will tell you one thing in my experience in the last three months visiting the states and talking to college students and high school students who are now dealing with parents that are not employed like they were before the pandemic were dealing with other issues we want to remove every barrier to accessing higher education as much as
possible we need to raise the bar a little bit. removing barriers and giving access to all. a special education and teacher training and support programs why do these programs need a boost in funding and support? >> with the teacher training, the budget calls for $9 million to support educator pipeline programs to make sure have access to the teaching profession and ensures that they
continue to get the support that they need to do the complex jobs they have. we are asking a lot of our educators when we have students coming back from a pandemic having experienced trauma so it's important we provide these opportunities and the pathways but also that we are recruiting and being very specific about getting more teachers in those areas that are hard to fill where the students with greatest needs are often so much as those programs for students with disabilities or the shortage of special education teachers we need more. we have a growing number and bilingual education classrooms are often difficult to find teachers for so there's a lot of work to do. we recognize the importance of increasing the funds and i can't tell you how many i've heard from families, educators and
students themselves through disabilities of remote learning that wasn't enough so we have to make sure that we give the students an opportunity to be successful and support the educators in the process so that the schools can continue to thrive. >> a couple times you used the phrase raise the bar which is a different way of saying something you said last month. going back to normal is a lobar with childhood education. how does public education need to adjust and not just the changing times but the post pandemic changing times? >> you mentioned earlier we have disparities in the education gaps and outcome gaps.
in one of the books he wrote about the normalization of failure. when i became the secretary of education, i sought out to try to address the gaps that exist and outcomes for students when i was the commissioner in connecticut that was a focus of mine and we had to make sure that when we build back better we are not going back to the system of march 2020 where it was almost predictable. that is unacceptable. we should have a high level of outrage that has gone on that long. so, what it translates to is when we reopen our schools we are given an opportunity to have highly qualified teachers getting the curriculum having opportunities for the courses that lead to college access or career options. we make sure students have
access to universal prekindergarten community college. so, going back to the system that we had in march of 2020 is insufficient. we do have to build back better and we have to do it with strategies that we know will work. early childhood education, community college, high levels, those are ingredients to raise the bar. >> i keep scribbling notes as you are talking. if you keep catching me looking back at my paper it's like i'm back in school. on universal pre-k which i know a lot of education experts and professionals say is an importantto not only closing thd also getting kids, three-year-olds and four-year-olds on that trajectory of upward mobility and trajectory. however, there are people, notably republicans who look at
that. why are we paying for this. as a talking and more concrete terms about why investing in universal pre-k is in port and not just for the education of the children, but for the future prosperity of the country. >> two that i say pay now or pay later. i worked in the school with dedicated educators and we served three and four-year-olds and had to students learning foundational skills. i'm not even getting into the brain the science of how learning happens at that age and how students at that age when they are learning executive functioning it can lead to greater success but the data also suggests those that have a good foundation in early childhood education are more likely to take higher-level courses and to be prepared for college so it pays dividends
later. the science on the sand of the studies that show quality programming does lead to success later in life and i can tell you from experience which students didn't have a good quality childhood experience when they were getting support and interventions later in their elementary years. those were students to become disillusioned or disengaged. a strong foundation is to a house how you build it nice and strong. without a strong foundation the skyscrapers will not last long and the same is true with our children. >> last month of the education department submitted plans on how states plan to use funds from the american rescue plan to support schools. could you talk about some of those and how the states are planning to use that to support their schools?
>> the title of this is opportunity crisis. i will tell you i'm so inspired by the educators and leaders across the country that have looked at this as an opportunity to invest in our children and our schools and our educators. i've seen the summer school programs that bring in a community partners in los angeles last week i saw how they had a robust summer school program with community partners that not only supported students academically but provided them with mentors. in portland oregon i saw a program for students that doubled in size due to the resources that gave an opportunity to engage with one another and the school was full of students. it was a beautiful sight. the students were excited to be there. hearing about areas where students will be given access to courses that they may not have had previously because now they can take advantage of online
offers as well. smaller class sizes, better technology and of course the mental health access that students will have now and support for the social and emotional well-being of the students is critically important and we are going to see more of that. we will see districts and ensuring students are not hungry when they go to school in ways that they hadn't before. we are finding opportunities out of crisis and we will be better when we return. it isn't easy work and it's not a one-size-fits-all that we have innovative and a caring educators across the country and our job as a department of depaf education is not only to help support with funds but to lift best practices so we can learn from one another. a. >> when we talk about schools and public education i wonder if sometimes people think we are just talking about public schools and cities. there are public schools in the rural communities and i just
wonder when it comes to the schools in more rural communities or communities how do you ensure students and educators have the same resources on par with those in wealthier suburban communities? >> that's a good point. often times when we talk about the underserved groups, we forget to mention the students throughout the country. i was in arizona recently and i was able to visit a school where there wasn't another school for miles and miles and it just seemed like we needed to make sure that they had everything they needed to be successful. a lot of that is broadband and making sure the devices are working and that they have access to the same.
so those conversations with those educators and mayors involved trying to build an infrastructure that can withstand what we've experienced before and making sure we look at the digital divide in the rearview mirror soon because the american rescue plan is the infrastructure plan that can provide $100 billion in infrastructure which the students need. the internet isn't a lofty thing anymore. the device and the internet as needed. it's a required tool for learning so we have to get past that idea. it's on us to make sure that they get it. the funding is there and the urgency is there.
one of the things the pandemic has shown us or has exposed, the inequities and the gaps that are there and i just wonder when it comes to that kind of access, was the access even more severe than you thought it was before the pandemic? >> yes and i will share with you it was about april of 2020 we were about a month into the shut down in connecticut and i had a conversation with a superintendent from a very wealthy district.
they had great broadband access and many were fortunate to have a parent to be able to work from home and then the curriculum top-notch. we invested in it years ago so all we had to do is flip a switch and they got high quality education. that same day i spoke to a superintendent that was under resourced with students that were well below the poverty line and i asked how it's going there and she shared with me that it took four weeks to communicate with her families and through snail mail and community was four weeks ahead already. they were trying to connect with the students. the gaps were exacerbated and we have to keep that in mind as we welcome the students back because it isn't enough now that we compensate and provide accelerated support for those
that miss out on a lot and that's not only academic. a lot of the students suffer more trauma because the communities where there is higher density we saw more job loss so it's important that we get the students in the five days a week and provide that thesupport that we know they ned to address those gaps. >> what role did the public-private partnerships play in any of your plans but specifically increasing broadband access for america's public schools? we saw how people came together to support our most vulnerable and i just hope in that innovative spirit a couple examples of where i've seen is really strong over the last year is i've seen community partners like the ymca and the boys and
girls club standup to give students experiences engaging with one another. i'm hearing about the workforce partners engaging with our high schools to give students opportunities to have internships and see what the job market is like to help them make life decisions. i saw private donors step up tremendously to provide laptops for students in a time of need last year. they stepped up with their own dollars and a different foundations and said where do you need us and to gather we were able to close the digital divide to do to that partnership as well. the invitation is always going to be there. it takes a village and in our country we saw the best over the last year and a half and i hope we can continue that to give our students the best opportunities to succeed. >> it is july, late july.
school is due to start again and we recommend students go back to the classroom this fall, but every day we are talking about the delta variant and how people are being infected and people fully vaccinated have breakthrough infections with covid happening in some parts of the country but spreading quickly. what is the department of education doing to monitor if any adjustments may need to be made if the delta variant does not slow down? >> first and foremost, vaccinate, vaccinate. that's the best way we can ensure that we get back to regular experiences like you going to school full time but also when we don't have to wear masks all the time so first and foremost my message is if you are eligible to get vaccinated,
get vaccinated. it's safe and a best ticket to a sense of normalcy. however what i've seen work throughout the country is when the educators work with our health experts to ensure the mitigation strategies needed are being used not only to reduce transmission which is the most important thing but also to build confidence and make sure parents are sending their children to school. i can tell you now the impact on students when they are not in school is great and we need to recognize that if the students are not in school the experience is not the same and after a year and a half, they deserve to be in school every day all day utilizing the mitigation strategy. yes we are keeping our eye on the delta variant no different than when i was commissioner and we were watching the spread in connecticut which was hit pretty hard but we were able to reopen safely in august of 2020. my own children went to school
from day number one and that was critically important for not only their academic success but also their happiness. all children across the country deserve that opportunity. we need to do everything we can to promote safe return to school, but also promoting a full return to school for all students across the country. >> how do you deal with this? the happiness of those students and i will admit right now i don't have kids, i will put that out there. i don't have young students. part of me wondered how do you balance the happiness of those children with their health and physical well-being of those children? >> i appreciate that question and i will say right now i would never compromise the safety of
my children or my wife who works in school. i would never compromise the health and safety to get them into school prematurely. and you can ask my 15-year-old daughter. there were decisions i made about hanging out with friends or doing things that didn't make her happy so her health and safety is more important to me but i also recognize when we follow mitigation strategies and ensure that the buildings are clean, safe and we are communicating that with families, they are not mutually exclusive. in fact, both my children, my son and my daughter, their happiness and emotional well-being depended a lot on being around their peers and teachers and engaging in activities that they typically do at that age, playing soccer, volleyball, these are things students should be experiencing. so think about the risk, the emotional health if we are taking that away from them because we are not following the
mitigation strategies as adults. >> i think a lot of people when they hear kids want to get together and play, they want to be in sports, whether he understand getting together and being part of sports is also part of learning. it is a part of the educational process. in the time that we have left i need to get you into a couple of other things. in the headlines last month because of a spirited exchange you had with republican congresswoman miller during the house education and labor committee and during the exchange, congresswoman miller asked you about the educational material given entitled, fronting anti-lgbtq harassment in schools and this led congresswoman miller to ask you how many genders you thought there were and you are not giving a definitive number or
answer. so what did that exchange signal to you and why are we arguing over this particular question? >> first and foremost we have the back of our students, our transgender students. no one should be made to feel less so than on the playground at recess or by an elected official. we are going to protect students all day and all means all. if someone doesn't feel comfortable around those students i'm not going to entertain and exchange where our students are watching are made to feel uncomfortable. i'm not going to feed into that. we will support students rights to participate in school and support the students that need more support now, not less, so it's important to make sure that at the end of the day.
including conversations with our elected officials. they've taken legislative steps to ban transgender students from participating in sports and i wonder if you think there needs to be some sort of federal mandate to protect the rights of transgender students more specifically, do you think the equality act, which is sitting in the united states senate, would that piece of legislation if passed by the senate and signed by the president because he said he would assign it, would that protect transgender students from these pernicious laws and proposals throughout their? >> we need to work together to make sure we are protecting at levels the office of civil rights is our alarm to make sure the rights of the students are protected. support from the hill would be critically important as well. we would support that at all
levels not only at the federal level but the state level and at the local level. our students need us now and we need to make sure that we are supporting them and making sure that when we talk about reopening schools we aren't just talking about good ventilation systems were having ppe on hand but also nurturing environments where students feel welcomed and accepted and they can be themselves in our schools. often times things become politicized but i know that they will put the needs of the children first. >> perfect segue to the last question and that is when it comes to the issues of race you told lawmakers that you trust educators to do their jobs. how do you think teaching about race, racism and its impact on
our history should be incorporated into classroom instruction? >> the wonderful thing is the country is unique in that sense and we all come from different places and add to this growth and it's important for the students to see the contribution of folks that look like them and it's equally as important to see the contributions of others that don't look like them so that they can get a better sense of what the world is really like. i think we would be shortchanging our students if we didn't do that. it is unfortunate because they know what they are doing and it's delicate when you come out of the pandemic and you also have a divided country but education can be unified both under the beautiful flag here and making sure that we have pride in the country while also recognizing the differences but also the mistakes we have made as a country.
i think the students are capable of handling that and we want that. >> the 12th secretary of education thank you for coming to washington post live. >> glad to be with you. >> as always thank you for tuning in. tune in to register and find out more information about our program passed and those upcoming in the future and in the meantime i'm the opinion writer for the>> nato secretaryd