Washington, D.C. — This morning, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Education Committee, attended a confirmation hearing to question Dr. Miguel Cardona, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Education.
During the hearing, Senator Collins highlighted the importance of the Federal TRIO programs in Maine and throughout the country. In Maine, more than 7,500 students are served by TRIO.
“[In 2017,] the Department of Education made a very abrupt bureaucratic decision that really embodies the worst of bureaucracy that denied funding to an Upward Bound program at the University of Maine Presque Isle on the basis of a formatting problem in the application.” said Senator Collins. “The Department only changed course after I added language to the Appropriations bill. It should not have taken legislative language in an Appropriations bill to get the Department to prioritize the needs of disadvantaged students participating in the Upward Bound program over bureaucratic formatting errors. I would just ask again for your commitment to make sure that we take a more commonsense approach and always remember that the students come first.”
“I commit not only to a strong partnership and to work with you, I also want to commit, if confirmed, that our agency will be a service agency making sure that our students’ needs are supported,” said Dr. Miguel Cardona.
In 2019, Senators Collins and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced legislation that would reauthorize the federal TRIO Programs through 2025 and make key reforms to make it easier to enroll students in the TRIO programs. One of the provisions in Senator Collins’ bill would permanently prevent the situation the University of Maine at Presque Isle faced in 2017. Senator Collins successfully urged the Department of Education to reverse its decision, protecting funding for UMPI.
Dr. Cardona is Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education and has spent his career working for the Connecticut public school system.