Education Pick Is Former Public-School Teacher

Connecticut's Miguel Cardona will get the Cabinet position
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 22, 2020 10:00 AM CST
Biden Makes His Pick for Education
In this Jan. 28, 2020, file photo, Miguel Cardona speaks with Berlin High School students while on a tour of the school in Berlin, Conn.   (Devin Leith-Yessian/Berlin Citizen/Record-Journal via AP)

President-elect Biden has chosen Miguel Cardona, the education commissioner for Connecticut and a former public-school teacher, to serve as education secretary, per the AP. Cardona was appointed to the top education post in Connecticut just months before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March. When schools moved to remote learning, he hurried to deliver more than 100,000 laptops to students across the state. Since then, however, he has increasingly pressed schools to reopen, saying it's harmful to keep students at home. If confirmed, his first task will be to expand that effort across the nation. Biden has pledged to have a majority of US schools reopened by the end of his first 100 days in office. Biden is promising a "large-scale" Education Department effort to identify and share the best ways to teach during a pandemic.

Cardona, 45, was raised in a housing project in Meriden, Conn., and went through the city's public schools before returning to work as a fourth grade teacher in the district in 1998. At age 28 he had become the youngest principal in the state before working his way up to assistant superintendent of the district. As an educator, he has devoted his work to improving education for English-language learners and closing achievement gaps between students of color and their white classmates. Cardona's doctoral dissertation at the University of Connecticut examined how to boost the "political will" to close gaps between students who are learning English and their peers. It's a personal issue for Cardona, who has said he entered kindergarten speaking only Spanish and struggled to learn English. The pick hasn't yet been formally announced.

(More Department of Education stories.)

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