President-elect Biden was looking for a U.S. Education Secretary with classroom teaching experience

Miguel Cardona, a veteran educator and nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education. Credit: Biden transition team.

WASHINGTON—President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday formally introduced his nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education—Miguel Cardona, a veteran of public schools and the third Latino selected for the Cabinet.

“We knew we needed an education secretary who truly understands what it’s been like for educators, administrators, families, caregivers and students this past year,” Biden said at an event in Wilmington, Del., with Cardona, the commissioner of education in Connecticut.

Biden said that he wanted a secretary who has experience in the classroom as a teacher.

“We also need someone who knows what it takes to get through this crisis,” he said, adding that his administration hopes to have schools physically reopened within the first 100 days of his first term.

“We need to make sure that every child in this nation has access to a good education regardless of their ZIP code,” Biden said.

Cardona said that the coronavirus has exacerbated many long-standing disparities in education.

“The problems and inequities that have plagued our educational system since long before COVID will still be with us even after the virus is gone,” he said.

Cardona would replace Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who served throughout the Trump administration and has come under intense criticism from Democrats for her advocacy of school choice and private schools. (School choice refers to allowing families to send their children to schools outside of  traditional neighborhood school zones.)

Cardona has worked as an elementary teacher, teaching fourth grade, and as a principal and currently serves as the commissioner of education for Connecticut.

He spent about 20 years as an educator in Meriden, Conn. He also served as the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning at Meriden Public Schools in 2013.

“For me, education was the great equalizer, but for too many students, your ZIP code and your skin color remain the best predictor of the opportunities you’ll have in your lifetime,” Cardona said.

If approved by the Senate, Cardona would be tasked with re-opening schools that have shuttered due to the coronavirus.