"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Good News and the Bad News on Miguel Cardona

First the good news.  Cardona's has deep experience as a teacher, school administrator, and state education commissioner. He understands public school culture, and he understands the challenges of growing up short on privilege.  

Cardona will be the first Secretary of Education to understand the kinds of school environments and programs that allow English learners to thrive while becoming proficient in English and keeping up academically.  As such, he is an advocate for bilingual and dual language programs, which have been shown by an established body of research to be the most effective and efficient strategies for educating English learners.

Cardona believes that all children and teens should have a voice in shaping their own schooling and not be forced in the college-for-all-regardless mold.  Cardona will likely be an advocate for the kind of K-12 magnet schools where students attend based on interests.

Cardona will likely be a strong civil rights advocate and a supporter of integrated schools.  We don't know, however, if he will be the first Secretary since the federal department was created to take seriously the research on the importance of racial and class integration, social capital, and diversity among faculty.

In addition, we don't know how how much Cardona is willing to focus on the importance of the education debt owed to the children of the poor, rather than being fixated, as most admins are, on the testing achievement gap, which has been used as a cudgel for 40 years to beat down teachers and children whose test scores don't live up to the world class expectations of white philanthropists but, rather, realistically reflect the disadvantage of living in a racist and classist society.  In short, we don't know if Cardona will embrace accountability for the continued segregated living and learning of brown and black kids of this nation--embrace it with the same fervor that his predecessors at ED have clung to the corrupt racism of testing accountability.

And then there's the bad news of Cardona's obvious agnosticism in regards to charter schools, which is an admission that he likes things just as they are or likes them enough to embrace the status quo of 7,500+ charter schools, which are draining off $30 billion public dollars every year to operate an alternate segregated system of punishing corporate reform schools. Probably the most telling comment so far about Cardona's take on charters comes from a charter chain CEO:

“I haven’t found him to be pro-charter or anti-charter. It doesn’t seem like he’s focused on governance and structure. What he is focused on are great schools for kids. And I think just more broadly, I haven’t found him to be driven by ideology and politics,” said Dacia Toll, the chief executive officer of Achievement First, which operates the largest network of charter schools in Connecticut and also has schools in Rhode Island and New York.

Not a good sign.

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