Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is under scrutiny after a recently discovered video clip revealed him inaccurately invoking former President Ronald Reagan’s famous critique of big government. During a meeting with Western state governors in Wyoming on November 8, Miguel Cardona attempted to emphasize his goal of making the Department of Education more “accessible” and providing “technical assistance” to states. In doing so, he misquoted Reagan, stating, “As, I think it was President Reagan, said — ‘We’re from the government, we’re here to help.’”
A Cautionary Message against the Government Intervention
Reagan’s original statement, made on August 12, 1986, was a cautionary message against government intervention. The 40th president expressed, “I’ve always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.’” Reagan attributed many problems in the agricultural sector to government-imposed embargoes, inflation, and inconsistent policies.
Despite Miguel Cardona’s expectation of laughter after his remark, critics were quick to point out the misinterpretation. Conservative voices, including The Federalist editor-in-chief Mollie Hemingway and columnist T. Becket Adams, expressed their dismay at the Education Secretary’s apparent lack of historical awareness. Some questioned the level of exposure to conservative ideas within educational circles, highlighting the irony of such a mistake by the head of the Education Department.
No Response from the Education Department
The Education Department has not responded to inquiries regarding whether Cardona’s statement was intended as a joke. Miguel Cardona, who assumed the role of education secretary in March 2021, has an educational background, having previously served as a fourth-grade teacher and worked his way up to roles such as elementary school principal, assistant superintendent, and commissioner of education in Connecticut.
Discussion about the Importance of a Well-Rounded Education
Critics argue that misrepresenting a well-known quote about government incompetence, especially in his capacity as the education secretary, raises concerns about historical literacy within the education system. The incident has sparked discussions about the importance of a well-rounded education that encompasses diverse perspectives, including conservative ideologies.
As the controversy unfolds, voices in the media and on social platforms are questioning how such a misinterpretation could occur at the highest levels of the education hierarchy. Some have likened the situation to an irony too potent for absurdist fiction, emphasizing the need for historical accuracy in educational leadership. The incident has rekindled debates about the intersection of education, politics, and historical understanding, raising questions about the preparation and knowledge base of key figures in shaping educational policies.