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Senator Hassan Questions Education Secretary Nominee on Reopening Schools and Expanding Career Pathways Programs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) today participated in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee nomination hearing for Dr. Miguel Cardona, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be the Secretary for the Department of Education.


Watch Senator Hassan’s questioning here.


COVID-19 Education Relief


Senator Hassan questioned Dr. Cardona about the education funding in President Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan, which she stated will be needed to help schools re-open for in-person learning, and asked Dr. Cardona what the consequences would be for the country’s education system if Congress fails to pass this necessary funding.


“If we really want to recover, we really need to invest now, or we’re going to pay later,” Dr. Cardona said. “And I feel that the funds being discussed now are really to help us with the long-term recovery process, preventing layoffs when we need more teachers not less.”


Career Pathways


Additionally, Senator Hassan spoke to Dr. Cardona about her bipartisan bill, the Gateway to Careers Act, and how initiatives like this one could help bolster educational opportunities for more Americans. The bill is the first that Senator Hassan introduced this year.


“This is a bipartisan bill that would support career pathways programs where students can make an income while they earn educational credentials,” Senator Hassan said. “The bill also includes important wrap-around supports for learners who face barriers to completion – like to help access affordable housing and cover transportation costs.”


Dr. Cardona emphasized the importance of workforce development and career and technical education programs.


Support for Rural Schools


Senator Hassan also highlighted the need to protect funding for rural schools, and urged Dr. Cardona to work with her and a bipartisan group of her colleagues to ensure that rural schools continue to receive critical funding through the Rural Low-Income Schools (RLIS) program. Last March, Senators Hassan and Susan Collins (R-ME) successfully halted a change to the methodology that determines which rural schools are eligible for funding through this program.