Weekly NewsBrief 1/10/22 - 1/16/22
From Mask Mandates to Omicron, Ed Secretary Cardona Finishes a ‘Very, Very Difficult’ First Year – By Linda Jacobson, The 74
When Education Secretary Miguel Cardona toured South Bend, Indiana’s Madison STEAM Academy in September, he made a quick impression on the district’s superintendent, C. Todd Cummings.
Cummings remembers the secretary’s interest in COVID protocols, the facility’s STEM makerspace, and that he spoke Spanish to students at the bilingual school. By the time the visit ended, he came away feeling like he could pick up the phone and call Cardona if needed.
“He’s done a lot to make the department more approachable,” Cummings said. “He understands running a district, but he also understands teachers in the classroom.”
Having one of their own helming the U.S. Department of Education has gone a long way toward mending the fractured relationship between district leaders and the agency that existed under Cardona’s predecessor. Betsy DeVos was the consummate outsider. She warred with unions, made comments that many teachers found insulting, and attempted to direct relief funds meant for the public system to private schools. In contrast, when the former Connecticut state chief meets with superintendents and school leaders, “he’s talking shop” on everything from bell schedules to graduation rates, said Ronn Nozoe, head of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.