President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona as the next U.S. Secretary of Education. In nominating Cardona, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris have held true to their promise of appointing a public school educator with classroom experience who believes in public education and respects educators.
“Cardona is a Connecticut public school educator who understands the federal role in increasing educational opportunities for all students, seeks teacher voices in collaborative efforts to help improve schools, and recognizes that highly qualified teachers are the greatest asset in public education,” says CEA President Jeff Leake.
The Biden administration considered several excellent candidates including U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and former NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, who received support from CEA.
A proud product of Connecticut public schools and a former fourth grade teacher and union member, Cardona will bring his experiences and expertise to Washington.
“Cardona will work to address inequities in education to ensure a robust, racially and socially just system of public education that will seek equity and excellence for all students. As an English learner in a public school classroom himself, he grasps the struggles of English learners and has a strong commitment to educational equity,” Leake says.
In meetings with CEA leaders Cardona has stated his commitment to many priorities that CEA shares, including ensuring equitable funding for all students and increasing the number of minority teachers to be more representative of the students in the classroom.
“Throughout the pandemic he has worked closely with education stakeholders to address important issues facing our students, teachers, families, and communities and has ensured all students have access to technology for remote learning,” Leake adds. “He believes teachers need to have a seat at the table in order to develop well-informed education policy. He has always sought out diverse educator voices as experts and welcomed their experience and knowledge on many issues that impact educators and their students.”
Cardona worked alongside educators to address important concerns but many challenging issues remain unresolved. Last spring he waived the 180 school day requirement when the pandemic hit, worked hard to ensure graduating students received the recognition they deserved when schools were forced to close, secured a federal waiver from annual standardized testing, waived teacher evaluation requirements at the end of the last school year, and supported remote work options for teachers unable to teach in-person due to health conditions, quarantine, or childcare issues.
As commissioner, Cardona has brought diverse groups together and welcomed the continuing conversation and sharing of perspectives with education groups including CEA, AFT Connecticut, and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, while working to address the challenges facing public education in Connecticut.
“We look forward to Cardona’s willingness to work with us, NEA, and others to address the needs of our nation’s school children and public education system,” says Leake. “The year ahead offers both potential and challenges, and we wish Cardona much success as he begins this new journey to lead the U.S. Department of Education.”