Royal Oak Tribune

Biden picks Connecticu­t schools chief for U.S. education secretary

- By Collin Binkley, Alexandra Jaffe and Jonathan Lemire

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Miguel Cardona, the education commission­er for Connecticu­t and a former public school teacher, to serve as education secretary.

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 U. S. schools reopened by the end of his first 100 days in office. Biden is promising new federal guidelines on school opening decisions, and a “large- scale” Education Department effort to identify and share the best ways to teach during a pandemic.

Biden’s choice of Cardona, yet to be announced, was confirmed by three people familiar with his decision but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

The pick drew praise from public school advocates and teachers unions. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called Cardona a “trusted partner” who will reverse four years of “disaster” under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“His deep respect for educators and their unions will travel with him to Washington — and that commitment to collaborat­ion is crucial to providing the resources and social and emotional supports to safely reopen schools,” Weingarten said.

School choice advocates expressed relief that Biden passed over contenders with stronger ties to teachers unions, and some were hopeful that Cardona will support charter schools and other options beyond traditiona­l public schools. Cardona, 45, was raised in a housing project in Meriden, Connecticu­t, 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. Both issues have been perennial struggles in Connecticu­t, which for decades has had among the widest achievemen­t gaps in the nation.

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