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Hispanic Groups Push Former NEA President as Education Secretary

More than 40 Hispanic civil rights and policy groups, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, are urging President-elect Biden to pick a former National Education Association president, Lily Eskelsen García, as education secretary.

“Eskelsen García is the ideal candidate to lead the U.S. Department of Education in a new direction from the previous destructive practices and policies of the Trump Administration,” wrote Antonio Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in a letter to Biden on Friday on behalf of the coalition, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda. García, as well as a number of others including the heads of large urban school systems, have been among those seen as potential candidates to succeed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

García, a former Utah teacher of the year as an elementary school teacher, as well as a former union president, would “understand the key issues currently facing students, families, and educators in the classroom,” the letter said. “Furthermore, our public school system is facing an unprecedented and constantly evolving crisis that is widening the education gap for many students of color and low-income students, and the Department of Education requires strong and dynamic leadership to tackle the short- and long-term effects on students’ education.”

The letter also noted that Latinx students make up more than a fourth of all public K-12 students. “Nominating a Latina secretary of education would make an important statement about the critical importance of the growing and significant Latino student population,” the group said.

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