Biden poised to pick Miguel Cardona as nation’s next Latino education secretary

Naming Connecticut's first Latino education commissioner fulfills a campaign promise Biden made.

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President-elect Joe Biden has chosen former Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona to serve as America’s next secretary of education.

Cardona, 45, Connecticut’s first Latino education commissioner, will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate after Biden’s inauguration in late January.

President-elect Joe Biden speaks Tuesday ahead of the Christmas holiday at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

Biden’s choice of Cardona to head the Department of Education will fulfill a campaign promise he made to appoint someone who had experience in the public school system. Someone with Cardona’s track record — project-raised, previously a public school teacher and principal — is a complete deviation from current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a rich proponent of private and charter campuses.

According to NBC Connecticut, Cardona became the youngest principal in the Connecticut at 28 before he worked his way up to assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. He chaired key state committees and taught in the Department of Educational Leadership at University of Connecticut for years.

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“If selected as secretary of education, Dr. Cardona would be a positive force for public education — light-years ahead of the dismal Betsy DeVos track record,” the Board of Education Union Coalition, which represents over 60,000 public school employees, maintained in a statement.

“Miguel Cardona is a visionary, humble and experienced educator who will lead the Department of Education out of the DeVosian wilderness and toward excellence,” Texas Rep. Joaquín Castro, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told NBC News.

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Cardona is Puerto Rican and will be the third Latino to serve in that role.

As the leader of Connecticut’s school systems, Cardona has been lauded for his approach to transitioning students to distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic. He helped provide 100,000 laptops to students in his state. He has also advocated for reopening schools because students of color and lower-income students are being left behind their white classmates and students with greater socio-economic status.

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President-elect Biden has vowed to reopen schools within his first 100 days in office, a goal in line with Cardona’s. Additionally, Biden plans to unveil new federal guidelines on the reopening process, as well as major funding to support safe schools.

As a bilingual student himself, Cardona has worked through most of his career to close the achievement gap faced by bilingual learners. He is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University and has a master’s in bilingual and bicultural education and a doctorate in education.

America’s previous Latino education secretaries were Lauro Cavazos, who served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and John B. King, Jr., who served under President Barack Obama.

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