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As the nation works to maximize pandemic-related funding, Chatbox sits with U.S. Secretary of Education, Michael Cardona. See summary below of his responses to the nationally-trending challenges, including charter schools, teacher shortages, and pandemic learning loss:

Question: Do you consider charter schools public schools and what’s the right mix of traditional schools and charter schools and Renaissance schools?

Cardona: Public charter schools do provide options and for some families they are a better option. I have seen examples of good one and concerning ones. They are a viable option. I am not a fan of private charters that suck way money from public school funding.

Questions: How do we recover from the pandemic?

Cardona: The opportunity to learn remotely was no substitute for in person learning, although we were thankful for it during the pandemic. We have more money in education than we ever have. We need to match the funding with urgency to provide additional support… after school programming, summer programming, smaller class sizes, higher quality materials and supports for our educators who are providing this instruction to students. We have to make sure we don’t go back to the same system we had in 2020; that system clearly did not work for all students. We have to do better. Some are offering mentorship programs, family liaison, community wrap around services, etc.

Question: Should the federal government do more for teacher recruitment and retention?

Cardona: We have a recruitment and retention issue. Its about making sure we are paying teachers what they are due, making sure that their work conditions are good, and making sure they have a voice in the process of how we reimagine schools. Recruitment efforts underway to attract more teachers and of color. Federal student loan forgiveness also been approved; ensuring good communication and simple processes.

Question: We are seeing so much stress on students and teachers, which was not discussed before the pandemic, solutions for that?

Cardona: Stress was in the shadows, just not addressed until trauma was experienced. American rescue plan dollars prioritized for mental health and staffing. Ensuring schools have more money to create more supports and staff to create safer schools for students, more social workers, security, etc.

Potential testing related implications

Testing coordinators may need to adjust testing logistics due to shifts in:

  • enrollment counts (losses to charter schools)
  • smaller class sizes
  • additional staff (who can help administer tests and monitor)

Analysis and reporting implications

  • assess impacts of recovery efforts
  • seize improved communication and relationships with community and parents to share data
  • involve teachers in process planning and policy advocacy efforts


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