Dr. Miguel Cardona officially confirmed as the second-ever Latino Secretary of Education
Cardona enters a role that will be key in guiding school reopenings across the country and guaranteeing it's done equitably.
On Monday, March 1, Dr. Miguel Cardona was confirmed by the Senate as the new U.S. Secretary of Education by a vote of 64 to 33.
Cardona was nominated by President Joe Biden in December, calling him a “lifelong champion of public education."
During a pre-Christmas announcement, Biden spoke very highly of the educator.
“Dr. Cardona has a proven track record as an innovative leader who will fight for all students, and for a better, fairer, more successful educational system,” he said.
Biden went on to say that Cardona will work to eradicate long-standing inequities within education, close opportunity gaps, and improve student success to ultimately grow a more strong, prosperous and inclusive middle class.
The 45-year-old, who previously served as Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education, began his journey in the education field working as a teacher and administrator in the public school district in Meriden.
He became the state’s education chief in 2019.
Cardona is promising to help reopen schools as part of the nation’s ongoing COVID-19 recovery efforts, but his most taxing job will come after, as schools address the racial and socio-economic disparities that were exacerbated by the pandemic.
As the new Secretary of Education, Cardona will play a critical role in aiding school districts as they recover from a crisis that put all of their failures in the limelight.
On Thursday, Feb.11, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee advanced Cardona’s nomination by a vote of 17-5. Senator Patty Murrary, Chair of the HELP Committee, stated her support for Dr. Cardona, noting his experience and background make him particularly suited for the many jobs ahead.
In Cardona’s first confirmation hearing on Feb. 3, she also pointed out the many times throughout Cardona’s career in which he has helped students reach their full potential, regardless of their native language, their income, zip code, race, gender, ability, or sexual orientation.
“Dr. Cardona is a proven, collaborative leader, a champion for public schools, and an excellent choice to lead the Department of Education through the challenges ahead.” Sen. Murray said.
During his nomination hearing, Cardona said that education helped open doors for him, and he wants to ensure that the “door to opportunity” remains open to all students.
On his list of priorities, reopening schools is just the beginning. He wants to “remove silos” in education and promote more innovative teaching strategies, make college accessible to any student, and strengthen community colleges.
Cardona, the father of two high school students has experienced firsthand the tremendous toll that this past school year has taken on parents, students, and educators.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont appointed Cardona to the top education post in Connecticut just months before the pandemic broke out. When schools moved to remote learning, Cardona rushed to deliver more than 100,000 laptops to students across the state.
Cardona is now the second Hispanic man to hold the position. The first was Lauro Cavazos, who was first appointed under President Ronald Reagan in 1988.