Joe Biden’s transition team late Tuesday announced Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona as the President-elect’s nominee for education secretary.
If confirmed by the Senate, Cardona would play a key role in reopening schools across the country that have been forced online amid the coronavirus pandemic.
CNN was first to report that Cardona would be nominated for the role.
“In Miguel Cardona, America will have an experienced and dedicated public school teacher leading the way at the Department of Education — ensuring that every student is equipped to thrive in the economy of the future, that every educator has the resources they need to do their jobs with dignity and success, and that every school is on track to reopen safely,” Biden said Tuesday night in a statement.
The President-elect continued, “He will help us address systemic inequities, tackle the mental health crisis in our education system, give educators a well-deserved raise, ease the burden of education debt, and secure high-quality, universal pre-K for every three- and four year-old in the country.”
Biden described Cardona as a “lifelong champion of public education” who “understands that our children are the kite strings that keep our national ambitions aloft.”
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will introduce Cardona at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday, according to the transition team.
Cardona was appointed Connecticut’s commissioner of education by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont in August 2019. He came to the role with two decades of experience as a public school educator from the city of Meriden, according to the state’s government website, after beginning his career as an elementary school teacher and later serving for 10 years as a school principal. In 2013, Cardona became the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.
Cardona, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico to Connecticut, would be another high-profile Latino in the Cabinet. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus had urged the President-elect to select him. Throughout the Cabinet selection process, Biden has faced pressure to follow through on his pledge to nominate people who reflect the diversity of America.
Biden still has five Cabinet-level positions to name, including attorney general. That decision is no longer expected to be announced before Christmas, a person familiar with the matter tells CNN, as the President-elect continues deliberating on one of the most high-profile positions in his incoming administration.
Biden has said that getting kids back to school safely is one of his top priorities when he takes office in January. In a recent speech laying out his plan to address the pandemic, he said that if Congress provides the necessary funding to protect students, educators and staff and if Americans follow strong public health measures, “my team will work to see that a majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days.”
During his presidential campaign, Biden proposed guaranteeing two free years of community college or other training as part of a higher education plan that would also aim to cut student loan obligations. His plan includes new spending aimed at improving access to college for low-income individuals, minorities and undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.