US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona discusses Biden's Build Back Better agenda during Valley visit

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The U.S. Secretary of Education made his way into the Valley on Wednesday, working to highlight a comprehensive act that would lead to education improvements throughout the country.

The Build Back Better agenda is something President Biden has been pushing for, and covers several different aspects. But the goal of Dr. Miguel Cardon’s visit was to demonstrate what it’s capable of.

After being welcomed in with mariachis, Cardona took a tour of PSJA Early College High School alongside U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen).

“We saw students learning geometry in two different languages,” Cardona said. “This is why — we know children learn best in the classroom, and we know every effort to keep students safe in the classroom is worth doing.”

PSJA ISD is just one of many districts that were able to open safely as a result of funding coming from the American Rescue Plan.

“It has really given us that confidence to be able to retain the most highly effective teachers that we have here in our community at a time when we don’t know how many students were going to return,” Cardona said. “It really allowed us to plan better.”

The programs at PSJA include college education, something Cardona believes is possible for schools across the country.

He say the Build Back Better plan has the potential to do that and more.

“It provides opportunities for our youngest learners to have quality programming. Community college for all,” Cardona said. “I saw great programs here where students are able to get an associate’s degree after graduating high school. Imagine if that opportunity was available to all students.”

Described as an ambitious, $3.5 trillion piece of legislation, the Build Back Better agenda in its current state would also create job growth, lower taxes and invest in public schools.

Although House Democrats don’t agree on the agenda as it stands today, Gonzalez says the classroom is not something that will get cut.

“At the end of the day, we do agree that education is the most important investment we can make in our country, and that is something that will not ever be taken away from the funding that we’re talking about in the reconciliation package,” Gonzalez said.

In McAllen, both Cardona and Gonzalez met with students at UTRGV to lay out the agenda in a roundtable discussion. Members unanimously agreed that it’s something the country needs and students pressed that affordability is something that deserves focus.

Cardona is expected to meet with U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro at Gus Garcia University School in San Antonio, a middle school partnered up with Texas A&M San Antonio.


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