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Capitol Correspondence - 01.05.21

Biden Transition Team Nominates Miguel Cardona for Secretary of Education, Lays Out School Reopening Proposal

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The incoming Biden administration will nominate Miguel Cardona, who currently serves as Connecticut’s Education Commissioner, for the position of Secretary of Education. This article by Axios discusses the education challenges facing the new administration. With many schools operating virtually during the pandemic, there have been fewer Direct Support Professionals available to support people with disabilities as they balance family and professional responsibilities.

Also of potential interest is this article in the The Hartford Current, which explains that “Cardona ended up the short list for education secretary due to his record in Connecticut, his supporters said. On the campaign trail, Biden pledged to push for the inclusion of Black and Latino studies in high school curriculums. Cardona has already done that when Connecticut became the first state to require courses on minority studies under the law. Lamont signed the law last year, and the requirement starts in 2022 — but schools can offer courses on African American, Black, Latino and Puerto Rican studies in the fall of 2021.”

Finally, this Politico Pro article highlights President-Elect Joe Biden’s proposal for re-opening schools:

“President-elect Joe Biden is weighing a multibillion-dollar plan for fully reopening schools that would hinge on testing all students, teachers and staff for Covid-19 at least once a week, according to four people with knowledge of the discussions.

The proposal under consideration calls for the federal government to cover the cost of providing tests to K-12 schools throughout the country. These could then be administered regularly by staff at each school, providing results in minutes.

The developing plan closely tracks with recent recommendations from The Rockefeller Foundation to invest billions into the creation of a K-12 testing system that would reassure teachers and students it is safe to resume in-person schooling. Biden has vowed to reopen the majority of schools within his first 100 days in office, amid growing concerns about the educational and mental health toll that months of remote learning has taken on a generation of students.

But such a strategy would require a sharp increase in the manufacturing of rapid tests and new lab capacity being brought online over the next several months, as well as incentives to convince states and local school districts to adopt the more intensive testing regime.

Biden transition officials are still trying to determine the exact price for regular testing in the nation’s schools. One person close to the deliberations pegged the cost at between $8 billion and $10 billion over an initial three-month period.

That would likely need to be funded through a new coronavirus aid package that Biden has pledged to pursue as soon as he takes office next year.”