The Tampa Bay Times recently published an opinion piece by Miguel Cardona, President Biden’s Secretary of Education.
The article’s title is deceptive, “As U.S. Education Secretary, I Want Us to Enrich Public Schools, Not Ban Books and Topics.”
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America’s public schools undoubtedly need improvement. However, their deficiencies have nothing to do with any drive to “ban books or topics.” Indeed, the actions that Secretary Cardona falsely labels are a desperate attempt to conserve whatever vestiges of virtue those schools might retain.
Rapid Rise to the Top of His Field
Mr. Cardona has had a meteoric career. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in 1997 and became an elementary school teacher in Meriden, Connecticut. Five years later, he became a principal in the same district—the youngest in the state. In 2015, he became the system’s assistant superintendent. In 2019, Gov. Ned Lamont appointed him to run Connecticut’s state education office. After a year and a half, he became the U.S. Secretary of Education.
The rise from elementary school teacher to the nation’s chief education officer in twenty-four years is remarkable. Maybe the children he taught became better readers than their peers in other classes. Perhaps the students at the school that he led for a decade excelled. Maybe there were significant gains in the effectiveness of Connecticut’s schools while he was in charge.
These suppositions may be accurate, but the media did not notice if they were. Instead, the same phrase arises repeatedly from his published biographies: “the first Latino.”
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The fact that he is of Puerto Rican heritage should not prevent Mr. Cardona from following such a remarkably successful career path. Nor should it stop him from holding his current high position. However, it is doubtful if he would have ridden this meteor if his heritage had been that of Norwegian farmers from rural Minnesota.
Of course, it is almost as important that his political views are in sync with leftists nationwide. As stated in the editorial, his positions possess the polished rhetoric that liberals use to convince the population that their views are benign.
Evaluating Secretary Cardona’s Speech
Below are three quotations from Mr. Cardona’s op-ed, followed by refutations.
“[S]ome of the very politicians who claim to promote freedom are banning books and censoring what students can learn.”
Without saying so, Secretary Cardona talks about two topics high on the radicals’ list of demands—“gender ideology” and “critical race theory.” Anyone who accepts these words at face value would assume that children nationwide are screaming for both. That is false. Both leftist ideologies are imposed on America’s children, teachers and schools as ideological straitjackets. Their goal has nothing to do with freedom but rather with indoctrinating a generation of children with false ideologies.
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Indeed, Mr. Cardona says nothing about the nature of the books leftists try to impose upon children.
Fortunately, others are taking up this task. Mary Rice Hasson and Theresa Farman summed it up in their admirable book, Get Out Now: Seven Reasons to Pull Your Child from Public Schools Before It’s Too Late.
“Immersing impressionable children in an imaginary world—sanctioned by authoritative adults—that pretends boys can become girls, girls can become boys, and some children will be neither, or both is a serious distortion of reality. It is already inflicting incalculable damage on our children and teens—not just on the vulnerable children suffering from identity confusion but on all the rest who are forced to speak and live the lie, fed bogus ‘science,’ silenced in the name of ‘tolerance,’ and marginalized by institutional practices that favor transgender claims above all else.”
“Parents don’t want politicians dictating what their children can learn, think and believe.”
This is true. However, Mr. Cardona is one of those dictating politicians. He and his leftist allies are saying that their views must supersede those of teachers, parents and children on these two controversial topics.
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An infamous October 2021 memorandum from Attorney General Merrick Garland to the Director of the FBI best describes this parental concern. The directive began, “In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.” While the memorandum does not explicitly mention parents, the situations to which Mr. Garland referred primarily consisted of resistance from parents to Critical Race Theory.
At the time, Secretary Cardona fully supported the Attorney General’s veiled threats. As the Washington Examiner stated, “[a] conservative education activist is calling for Miguel Cardona’s job after emails revealed the education secretary solicited the infamous letter from the National School Boards Association calling parents protesting at school board meetings domestic terrorists.”
“It’s heartbreaking… to see politicians trying to prevent students from learning about … African Americans.”
This statement is pure nonsense. At no time during the last century—and more—has there been any attempt to prevent students from learning about African Americans.
Much has been made of the infamous 1619 Project, which began with the importation of nineteen enslaved people entering Virginia. However, teaching children about this event and its importance is nothing new. That becomes obvious when one reads this passage from a 1906 American History textbook.
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“The purchase of that score of kidnapped Africans fastened slavery in Virginia and the United States…. But the increase of negroes in Virginia was very slow, since planters of small means found it far cheaper to employ the labor of indentured white servants or of convicts; for both classes came over from England in large numbers. Later a statute (1662) made slavery hereditary, not only for negroes, but for mulattoes, by providing that all children born in this country should be held bond or free, “according to the condition of the mother.”1
Not only was the plight of the enslaved featured in American History textbooks, but there was a serious attempt to include the voices of the enslaved, as seen in a text from 1891.
“Perhaps the most famous of all the fugitive slaves was Frederick Douglass. In a letter to his former master, he thus justifies himself for running away:
“The very first mental effort that I now remember . . . was an attempt to solve the mystery—why am I a slave?”2
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Such opinions are so contrary to Christian and traditional civic values that it is easy to destroy once exposed. Of course, the only real answer to the problems raised by racial issues is a return to the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church that informed Christian civilization. United by the love of God and each other, the Church has always held out the promise of dignity for all, regardless of race or ethnicity. The Marxist roots of class struggle, motivated by hate and extreme egalitarianism, can never create the unity they pretend to espouse.
An Old Trick
Mr. Cardona’s deceptive tactics are nothing new. When attacked, many politicians attempt to wrap themselves in cloaks of virtue while trying to deflect the charges elsewhere. In so doing, the politicians hope one of two things will happen. Either the public will lose interest or will be fooled into thinking that the politicians did not do what they did.
One advantage to living in the Internet age is that the politicians’ words are far easier to find.
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1. D. H. Montgomery, The Student’s American History (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1906), 35.
2. Mary Sheldon Barnes and Earl Barnes, Studies in American History (Boston: D.C. Heath & Co., 1891), 296.