With students back in their classrooms, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is back on the road.
Cardona kicks off his annual back-to-school tour on Monday, spending a week traveling in Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Throughout the tour, he’ll be joined by first lady Jill Biden, second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, and Undersecretary of Education James Kvaal.
In a recent interview with Education Week, Cardona said he’s excited for students to get back into “the rituals of school” this year. There were an estimated 49.5 million enrolled in per-K through 12th grade public school as of fall 2021, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
“I’m really thrilled that students are feeling that back-to-school excitement the way it was before. It’s not back to school with a caveat,” Cardona said in the Aug. 23 interview. “It’s ‘I’m going to see my friends. We’re going to be able to do this. This trip is being planned. The clubs are up and running.’”
Over the last several administrations, the back-to-school tour has been a tradition for the country’s top education leader.
Last year, Cardona traveled throughout Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana in his “Return to School Roadtrip,” during which he celebrated school districts with students returning to in-person learning.
In 2019, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos dedicated her tour to “education freedom,” an effort to support school choice and promote her proposed $5 billion Education Freedom Scholarship program that would have provided tax credits for scholarship contributions to private schools.
Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan used his back-to-school tour in 2015 to promote the Obama administration’s work in early-childhood education and higher education.
This year’s trip, which will take place Sept. 12-16, has been labeled the “Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour.” Cardona will be highlighting schools and communities that are recruiting qualified educators and building teacher pipelines.
Cardona will begin the tour in Knoxville, Tenn., where he will be joined by the first lady to discuss the teacher pipeline. They will then travel to Greensboro, N.C., to talk about the teacher pipeline and high school to career pathways.
Following Greensboro, Cardona will travel to Newport News, Richmond, and Harrisonburg, all in Virginia, where he’ll talk about academic recovery and the American Rescue Plan, Special Olympics and the inclusion of students with disabilities, and parent engagement for English-language learners and special education students.
The secretary will then head to Morgantown, W.Va., and Pittsburgh to discuss mental health in higher education and early-childhood education. After that, he’ll travel throughout Pennsylvania to Reading, Allentown, and Philadelphia, where he’ll discuss meeting students’ basic needs in higher education, community schools that provide wraparound services to students, and President Joe Biden’s debt forgiveness plan.
He’ll conclude the tour in Camden, N.J., where he’ll discuss the Education Department’s National Partnership for Student Success, an effort to bring in over 250,000 mentors and tutors to classrooms.