Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, President Biden’s pick for Secretary of Education, met with advocates for students with disabilities in January. Advocates focused their remarks on school discipline and the impact of the pandemic on the education for people with disabilities.
Upon Senate confirmation, Cardona will be the nation’s top education official and uniquely positioned to support special education programs amid the COVID-19 crisis, which has had a major impact on schools throughout the country.
President Biden announced that his administration would “fully fund” the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a law first passed in 1875 that ensures a free appropriate public education for all children with disabilities, within 10 years, and Cardona would be tasked with carrying the impact of this legislation out in his role as Secretary.
During the meeting, Cardona “affirmed participants’ comments that we must challenge a deficit mentality, noting that all students have diverse abilities and their abilities make schools better,” according to a summary provided by the Biden transition team. “He himself has seen firsthand how schools with diverse populations created a culture of community.”
The conversation also focused on “Equity and the COVID-19 Crisis,” as representatives from family and disability rights organizations noted that special education has been disproportionately affected by the decrease in services prompted by the pandemic.