President-Elect Joe Biden Nominates Miguel Cardona to Serve as U.S. Secretary of Education

Miguel Cardona could soon be helping the nation’s children get back into the classroom…

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated the Puerto Rican educator and politician to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education in his cabinet, calling the Puerto Rican politician, Connecticut’s education commissioner, “brilliant” and saying he’ll play a key role in his administration’s efforts to reopen schools forced online amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Miguel Cardona

Cardona, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico to Connecticut, would be another high-profile Latino in the Cabinet if confirmed by the US Senate.

Biden said Cardona “understands that the deep roots of inequity that exist as a source of our persistent opportunities gaps. He understands the transformative power that comes from investing in education.”

Cardona said that as an education commissioner, a public school parent and a former public school classroom teacher, he understands how challenging this year has been for students, educators and parents.

“It’s taken some of our most painful, longstanding disparities and wrenched them open even wider,” Cardona said, speaking publicly for the first time as Biden’s nominee. He said that “for too many students, your zip code and your skin color remain the best predictor of the opportunities you’ll have in your lifetime.”

He added, “Though we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we also know that this crisis is ongoing, that we will carry its impacts for years to come and that the problems and inequities that have plagued our educational system since long before Covid will still be with us even after the virus is gone.”

Biden on Wednesday reiterated that reopening schools safely would be a national priority for his administration and spoke of the challenges that students, educators and administrators have faced amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“They worry. They’re under stress. They stretch local budgets that have left educators out of work,” Biden said.

Cardona was appointed Connecticut’s commissioner of education by Democratic Governor Ned Lamont in August 2019. He came to the role with two decades of experience as a public school educator from the city of Meriden, according to the state’s government website, after beginning his career as an elementary school teacher and later serving for 10 years as a school principal.

In 2013, Cardona became the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus had urged the President-elect to select him.

Xavier Becerra Emerges as Contender to Lead Department of Health and Human Services

Xavier Becerra could be heading to The District in the coming year…

The 62-year-old Mexican American politician and current California Attorney General has emerged as a key contender to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, according to sources familiar with the process, as President-elect Joe Biden weighs who to tap for a role that will be critical to his administration’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Xavier Becerra

The HHS secretary position has been a source of intrigue and confusion this week, with New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo being mentioned as contenders. Raimondo has said she’s no longer a candidate and Lujan Grisham’s status is now unclear.

 

But on Friday people close to the matter said Becerra has emerged as a “contender of interest” for the post. He’s also a top candidate for attorney general.

 

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has also been mentioned as a potential pick to lead Health and Human Services, but the sources said she is being eyed for other posts as well.

 

News of Becerra’s emergence comes as Biden faces increasing pressure to deliver on his promise to build out a diverse Cabinet. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has said it wants Lujan Grisham to be Biden’s HHS secretary and has pushed Biden to select Becerra or Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez as attorney general. Members of the caucus expressed frustration in a meeting with leaders of Biden’s transition team on Thursday over how they believe Lujan Grisham has been treated in the Cabinet selection process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier Friday that the transition team will announce key members of the President-elect’s health team early next week.

 

Joaquin Castro & Congressional Hispanic Caucus Urge Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to Update Diversity in the Media Report

Joaquin Castro is calling for a more diverse media…

In a letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) – chaired by the 45-year-old Mexican American politician and U.S. Representative for Texas’ 20th congressional district – is urging the commission to update its “Diversity in the Media: A Chart Book for Selected Industries” report, which hasn’t been updated since 2004.

Joaquin Castro

The call to action furthers Castro and the CHC’s efforts to increase diversity in media and entertainment and to have a baseline of data for transparency and ultimately greater accountability in the industry.

The letter is addressed to EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon, as well as EEOC Commissioners Victoria A. Lipnic and Charlotte A. Burrows and discusses the importance of having a baseline of data for transparency and ultimately greater accountability.

The 2004 report lays out data on the diversity in media in three major categories: broadcasting, publishing and cable.

With the advent of streaming and the surge of digital content, the CHC points out that the media industry has “drastically changed” since the report was released over 16 years ago and it’s time that revisions be made.

Castro and the CHC requested the EEOC update the report no more than 60 days from the receipt of the letter. They also are looking for updates every 30 days until the final report is released.

The CHC broke it down and requested that the new report include:

  1.  Disaggregated data on race, ethnicity and gender by individual industry rather than the grouping format used in 2004.
  2.  New industries such as digital content and streaming provider
  3.  Updated data for all positions in each industry from entry level up to and including Executive level positi
  4.  When possible, data on salaries and wages disaggregated by race, ethnicity and gender for each of the employee categories, including Executive level positions for each industry.

“While discrimination and lack of equal opportunity for underrepresented groups is present in many fields, the media industry is unique in its ability to influence the broader culture and shape the perception of entire groups,” the letter stated. “When Latinos do not have the opportunity to shape the media’s depiction of our communities, it ultimately emboldens a misunderstanding of our communities that weakens the social fabric of American society. The CHC views greater transparency around employment data through publicly available information as critical to increasing representation for Latinos and other underrepresented communities.”

An updated report would hopefully help move the needle further as Hollywood tries to become more inclusive when it comes to talent in front of and behind the camera — specifically in a time when the country is seeing a social and civic reckoning.

It also comes after a blatant lack of Latinx representation when it came to Emmy award nominations, even though the television landscape was filled with Latinx-led shows like Vida, One Day At A Time and Gentefied.

Pose has been an Emmy favorite and although star Billy Porter was nominated, there was no love for show co-creator Steven Canals or series stars Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore, who’ve delivered stellar work on the FX drama.

The new ABC comedy United We Fall features Latinx characters but with the cancellation of The Baker and the Beauty, there’s a glaring absence of shows with a majority Latinx cast on a major network.

Last fall, Castro led a congressional delegation to Los Angeles where the CHC met with several studios and streamers, talent agencies, as well as union and guilds. Congress has worked to include this language in almost all of the major funding bills during the Appropriations process and in the National Defense Authorization Act. The CHC has regular conversations with stakeholders regarding the state of the industry. Most recently the CHC had meetings with Amazon Studios and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as they develop their new 2025 diversity initiatives to ensure that Latinos are included in these goals on diversity.

The letter was signed by Castro, Robert Menendez (Co-Chair, Diversity Taskforce), Tony Cárdenas (Co-Chair, Diversity Taskforce) as well as members of Congress José E. SerranoRuben GallegoGilbert R. Cisneros, Jr.Juan Vargas and Nydia M. Velázquez.

Allende Among This Year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom Honorees

Isabel Allende
 is headed to the White House

The 72-year-old Chilean writer is among the 19 people chosen by President Barack Obama today to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Isabel Allende

Allende, best known for her novels La casa de los espíritus and La ciudad de las bestias, has written 21 books that have sold 65 million copies in 35 languages.

She’s been recognized with numerous awards internationally, including the prestigious National Literary Award in Chile, her country of origin.

Allende’s novels are often based upon her personal experience and pay homage to the lives of women, while weaving together elements of myth and realism.

Allende, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was granted American citizenship in 1993, having lived in California with her American husband since 1989.

But Allende isn’t the only Hispanic person to receive the honor this year…

The late Edward Roybal will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously.

He was the first Mexican-American to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from California in nearly a century. In 1976, he founded the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, creating a national forum for Latino issues and opening doors for a new generation of Latino leaders.

Other honorees this year include Meryl Streep, Tom Brokaw, Stephen Sondheim, Marlo Thomas, Stevie Wonder and choreographer Alvin Ailey.

The awards will be bestowed at the White House on November 24.

Castro Elected to Lead the Freshman Class of U.S. Congress Democrats

U.S. Representative Joaquín Castro could be considered Congress’ freshman class president…

The 38-year-old Mexican-American Congressman, D-San Antonio, the twin brother of San Antonio Mayor and Democratic National Convention keynote speaker Julián Castro, was elected by his to serve as president of the freshman class of Democrats in the 113th Congress.

Joaquín Castro

The honor was bestowed upon Castro as freshmen received their committee assignments for the upcoming legislative session.

Both Castro and Representative Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, will serve on the House Armed Services Committee.

Meanwhile, Representative Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, is the new chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Newly elected Representative Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, will serve on Agriculture and Homeland Security committees.