Before President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona as his nominee for education secretary, more than 100 organizations endorsed a student-crafted roadmap that was sent to the Biden-Harris transition team encouraging youth input in the incoming Department of Education.
Student Voice — the nationwide student-led non-profit organization behind the roadmap -— congratulates Cardona on his nomination for education secretary and is now calling on Cardona and the Biden-Harris administration to listen to students.
The roadmap, which asks the incoming US Department of Education to engage young voices through listening sessions, include students on all commissions and to prioritize equity in education, was the result of Zoom listening sessions with over 200 high school students and a survey of 1,500 kindergarten-college aged students from across the country on what they would like to see from the Biden-Harris Department of Education.
It was presented by Student Voice to President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and the Education Agency Review team prior to Dr. Cardona’s appointment and was endorsed by 100 organizations including the American Federation of Teachers, Center for American Progress, Southern Poverty Law Center, GLSEN and student groups such as March For Our Lives, Students for Gun Legislation, Future Coalition, 18by Vote and more.
“As a former educator, principal and current commissioner, we are hopeful that Dr. Cardona will be prepared to tackle the unprecedented challenges facing America’s schools on day one. We appreciate that Dr. Cardona regularly hosted listening sessions for student stakeholders throughout his career and Connecticut and has shown previous support for students as a vital part in the decision making process,” 18-year-old Jenna Yuan, the Communications Director at Student Voice, said in a statement congratulating Cardona on Wednesday.
But, Yuan added that Cardona must continue to engage with young people.
“Before Dr. Cardona is confirmed, students are calling on him to speak with us directly about the issues we face within our educations today, including through hosting a roundtable conversation with a diverse and representative group of K-12 and college students from across the country,” Yuan added in the statement.
According to Merrit Jones, who at 23 years old is the oldest member of the Student Voice team, along with their roadmap, the organization is also suggesting that Dr. Cardona prioritize five issues, “Protection against discrimination, Covid safety, mental health, college access and affordability and access for students with disabilities.”
Jones added that she believes it is imperative for Cardona to have a conversation with young people prior to Biden’s inauguration.
“Ahead of inauguration, and of course confirmation, we want [Cardona] to have a conversation with young people to show and demonstrate early that young people are a stake holder and will be a stake holder,” Jones told CNN.
Jones added that Student Voice has already asked the Biden-Harris transition team for a conversation with Cardona to cement young people’s role in building the incoming Department of Education.