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U.S. Education Secretary, during NWTC tour, criticizes mask bans in schools

Sen. Tammy Baldwin praised the two-year technical college for helping close the economic gap
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 9:52 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin was joined by the U.S. education secretary on a visit Thursday of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. They praised the two-year school’s quality education and low costs, calling it a model for others.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona also criticized efforts by states, municipalities, and institutions to ban masks in schools. He said they are a proven safe way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and for schools to stay open.

The halls of NWTC were busier than normal as the school accommodated the visitors from Washington, D.C. Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and Cardona’s tour of the technical college was part of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to gain the education and skills they need to succeed without drowning in debt,” Sen. Baldwin said.

Among many items included in the president’s plan is investing in community colleges, making it free for students. Both Baldwin and Cardona highlighted statistics that shows college graduates earn more over their lifetime than high school graduates.

“This is the ticket to a better economy because we’re going to have a more skilled workforce that are going to be contributing to the economy, the local economy, when they have their certificate and when they have their degrees,” Secretary Cardona said.

Cardona also shared his own experience attending a technical high school and the value he gained from that education, especially as someone whose parents moved to mainland United States from Puerto Rico.

NWTC students considered non-traditional shared stories in a roundtable discussion of being the first in their families to attend college or having to balance family and jobs while pursuing a degree full-time.

“I see a future that is better than I’ve ever imagined. No mom, no dad, I’ve been home alone since I was 12,” Damien Doran, a student at NWTC, said.

Moreover, the education secretary stated his belief in schools requiring masks whether at the university level or kindergarten through 12th grade, and criticized states and municipalities that ban them.

“I don’t think you need a degree to figure out in places where they’re not using masks, ICU’s are full -- and we’re talking about children now,” Cardona said. “And we’re prepared with the office of civil rights to investigate any cases of civil right violations that are brought to us.”

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