Brownsville native Norma V. Cantú, a University of Texas law school and school of education professor, has been named to President-elect Joe Biden’s 20-member education transition team, her office confirmed Wednesday.
Cantu served eight years as the Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights in the Clinton Administration, where she oversaw a staff of approximately 850 in implementing governmental policy for civil rights in American education, her biography on the UT website states.
Prior to serving as the nation’s chief civil rights enforcer in the educational arena, Cantú worked for 14 years as regional counsel and education director of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In that capacity, she litigated scores of important cases affecting educational funding, disability rights, student disciplinary policies, access to special services for English-language learners, and racially hostile environments, her biography states.
Cantú graduated summa cum laude in 1978 from the University of Texas-Pan American, now part of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, at age 19, taught high school English, and enrolled at Harvard Law School, where she graduated at age 22.
Biden’s education transition team will be led by Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the California state education board and founder of the Learning Policy Institute, who also helped oversee then-president elect Barack Obama’s education transition team. Darling-Hammond had been rumored to be a possible Biden education secretary pick, but she has indicated she isn’t interested in the post.
In a statement, Biden’s transition office said the transition teams reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration.
“These teams are composed of highly experienced and talented professionals with deep backgrounds in crucial policy areas across the federal government,” the office said in the statement. “The teams have been crafted to ensure they not only reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration, but reflect the diversity of perspectives crucial for addressing America’s most urgent and complex challenges.”
Cantú is the second Biden transition team appointee with Brownsville connections to be named this week.
On Monday, Dr. Robert M. “Lucky” Rodriguez, Brownsville native and professor of emergency medicine at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, was named to Biden’s 13-member coronavirus task force.