U.S. Senate Confirms Cardona as Secretary of Education

Former Connecticut Commissioner of Education and public-school educator Dr. Miguel Cardona was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 1, 2021 as Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). DOE has responsibility for oversight and implementation of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, also known as trade or technical school, that provide students with the skills necessary to succeed in a wide range of public works careers. The Senate voted 64-33 to confirm the nomination.
Secretary Cardona’s nomination moved through the Senate over the course of the last month, with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee holding a hearing on February 3. The committee subsequently advanced his nomination (on a 17-5 vote) on February 11 for consideration by the full Senate.
During his confirmation hearing Secretary Cardona was questioned on a variety of issues impacting public works, including whether he supports federal policies to support CTE at the same level as traditional four-year degrees, the expansion of Pell Grant eligibility to CTE programs, and how to ensure guidance counselors provide information on CTE career pathways to students. Dr. Cardona stated his strong support for CTE programs in both K-12 and post-secondary education. He also agreed that more needs to be done to make sure students have access to CTE programs and are aware of career pathways other than traditional four-year degrees.
As the new leader of DOE, Secretary Cardona will be a key policymaker in workforce development. He will have an important role to play on issues including the need to raise awareness of public works careers among students, and increased alignment of educational programs with the skills and credentials required to construct, maintain, and secure critical infrastructure.

APWA recently released a new Policymaker Primer on Workforce Development (an informational supplement to APWA’s official Public Policy Priorities) which will be distributed to relevant Congressional offices and federal agencies.

For any questions, please contact Government Affairs Associate Michael Altman at maltman@apwa.net. A recording of the nomination hearing may be viewed here.