President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Connecticut education chief Dr. Miguel Cardona as his education secretary, The New York Times reports.
If confirmed, Cardona would be the first Latino education chief.
Cardona would be tasked with leading the nation's schools and universities out of the coronavirus pandemic. “School districts, colleges and universities have hemorrhaged money as they struggled with distance learning, retrofitted buildings to make them somewhat safer, and lost students, especially foreign university students who had been paying full tuition,” The Times noted.
The pandemic has expanded the gap between well-off and poor students, leaving Cardona with extensive work after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ pro-private school tenure.
Cardona was appointed as head of Connecticut schools last year after two decades as a public school teacher, principal, and adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut.
Cardona drew support from Biden’s circle:
Cardona emerged as a frontrunner after drawing support from key Biden allies, including members of Congress, teacher unions, community groups, and Biden’s early frontrunner Linda Darling-Hammond, who took herself out of the running for the job.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus told Biden that it was “proud to offer our enthusiastic endorsement of Mr. Miguel Cardona.”
“We know that all schools, from the elementary level to the college level, face a challenging road ahead as we work to recover from the pandemic,” the letter said. “It is clear that Mr. Cardona’s record of accomplishments demonstrates that he is capable and qualified to lead the Department of Education. Further, as a Puerto Rican leader he will bring a valued and diverse voice to the cabinet.”
Cardona pushed to reopen schools:
Cardona has been a leading voice in calling to reopen schools as kids fall farther behind in remote learning.
“If we provide safe in-person learning options for students, whenever possible, we can ensure we are doing everything in our control to level the educational playing field and reduce gaps in opportunities for our students,” he wrote in an op-ed last week. “If we can do it safely, this is what we owe to them.”
Though reopening efforts have divided teachers, unions representing over 60,000 public school employees said Cardona “has been tested by the unprecedented upheaval caused by the pandemic,” and that his “formative experience as a teacher and administrator has been critical to his accomplishments as Connecticut education commissioner.”
“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.”