Biden’s Choice for Secretary of Education: Miguel Cardona is…

Dr. Miguel Cardona is President Joe Biden’s pick for the Secretary of Education of the United States.

Miguel Cardona is:
  • A migrant from Puerto Rico,
  • As a child, grew up in poverty,
  • As a child, didn’t speak English
Miguel Cardona is:
  • A former elementary school teacher,
  • A former principal,
  • A former district administrator, and most recently,
  • Connecticut’s education commissioner

Miguel Cardona also has expertise in the pre-K realm. He has served as the co-chairperson of Connecticut’s Birth to Grade Three Leaders Council. As a member of the PreK to Kindergarten Transition Workgroups, he contributed to a report related to the importance of transitions between pre-K and kindergarten with guidance for districts and school leaders. He is an advocate to include pre-K as part of the elementary school experience, and encourages youngest students to be included in school activities, as well as to include pre-K teachers to be included in professional development alongside K-5 teachers.

Described as a problem solver, a leader who is collaborative, and one who is able to look at the big picture. Dr. Cardona’s experience learning English, and learning a new culture has helped him to value relationships and make connections in his work. “[Miguel Cardona] is a great listener, an amazing team player, and he’s always looking out for the best interest of students,” says Evelyn Robles-Rivas, president of the Connecticut Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents. 

While he is tasked with implementing President Biden’s platform (see Biden’s policies impacting families here and those impacting teachers and providers here) on education, if confirmed as the next education secretary, Dr. Cardona has some of his own priorities. 

  • Securing high quality, universal pre-K for every three- and four year-old in the country
  • Reopening schools within the first 100 days of new administration.
    • Cardona says “What’s gotten me this far is my passion to keep students at the center.”
    • Plans for reopening among severe budget cuts
    • Getting the virus under control by testing and tracing, and providing personal protective equipment
    • Many states have prioritized teachers to receive the COVID vaccine 
    • Addressing widening achievement gaps and learning loss – especially affecting  low income students and students of color
  • Advocating for underserved learners
    • Focused on Equity, ELL (English Language Learners), and Multicultural education: 
      • Expand multilingual and bilingual education programs
      • “Inclusive, culturally relevant content in classrooms leads to greater student engagement and better outcomes for all” 
      • “The conversation [at the national level] must center on the needs of students from marginalized communities, clearly illuminate the impacts of the pandemic, and demonstrate how those impacts interact with and exacerbate hundreds of years of systemic racism,” write John B. King Jr, and Marc Morial in this recent op-ed
  • Tackling the digital divide and resource inequities, especially uncovered by the pandemic
    • Providing digital learning resources for teachers, parents, and students
    • Providing internet access and digital devices so students can learn from anywhere
  • Administering high stakes standardized testing
    • “We want to provide some opportunity for [students] to tell us what they learned or what gaps exist so we can target resources.” (Cardona)
    • Emphasizes the appropriate use of test scores, using standardized test results not as the sole measurement of success or growth, but as part of multiple measures of success or growth for students
Appreciate that he has public school experience, as a student, teacher, and administrator
Worry about his ability to work under pressure because he seemed tentative when pinned down about his own positions/policies. “He plays it safe,” says Gwen Samuel, the founder and president of the Connecticut Parents Union. 

Ensure the federal government’s role in education is to improve access and opportunity for every student

Concerned about his ability to lead on the national level, hasn’t been a superintendent, some say lack of leadership experience

Focus on equity during the COVID-19 pandemic, championed racial justice, and hold charter schools accountable
What people are saying about President Biden’s pick for U.S. Secretary of Education

In his inaugural address last week, President Biden called on us to “listen to one another again, hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another.” Miguel Cardona is one who will listen, hear, see, and respect the American institute of education, leaders, teachers, and families in order to move forward and do what’s best for our children.

Ready to join the club? Start your free PreK.Club membership.

Comment and make it public on Facebook