Biden Education chief: GOP uses schools ‘as a means to divide’

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona highlighted Democrats’ efforts at “parent partnership” in an op-ed for Newsweek this week, indirectly hitting back at Republicans who are trying to paint Democrats as uncaring about parental rights in education.

“From Day One of President Joe Biden’s tenure, we have made authentic parent engagement a top priority, not only embedding the needs of parents and families into most of our programs, but also creating new opportunities for parents to engage directly with the Department of Education and with their own school communities,” Cardona wrote in his opinion piece, titled “We are Raising the Bar for Parent Partnership in Our Schools.”

Some examples Cardona listed of the administration’s focus on parents included welcoming parental feedback when implementing policies to help with the academic gap that sprang from the pandemic and giving parents more information regarding the resources they can take advantage of in their state or district.

Although he didn’t name them, the op-ed was also a direct response against Republicans who said Democrats were opposed to parental involvement in schools.

“Meanwhile, some opponents of our administration are hiding behind the guise of ‘parents’ rights’ to try to defund public schools and take away critical resources in education — a strategy that will ultimately hurt our children, our communities, and our economy,” Cardona said. “Remarkably, the most vocal proponents of ‘parents’ rights’ are missing in action when it comes to the actual work of helping our nation’s parents and students.”

Democrats have recently been playing defense on education as Republicans, who balked at school closures and mask mandates during the pandemic, have also pushed forward with culture war issues including LGBTQ issues and critical race theory — a collegiate-level academic framework examining history through the lens of racism that has become a catch-all political buzzword for any teaching of American history and race.

“That approach does nothing to help students across the country. None of the nearly 10,000 parents with whom my team and I have met since the president took office said they wanted more culture wars or partisan politics in schools,” Cardona said.

“Parent partnership is not about giving in to the loudest voices or political grandstanding. It’s about welcoming the voices of all families, and inviting parents to be a real part of the decision-making processes in education. And it means reflecting parental diversity in parental voice and leadership in a way that authentically represents the diversity of their children’s schools,” he added.

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