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CT Ed Commissioner Miguel Cardona to be Next US Ed Sec

December 22, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden has selected Connecticut education commissioner, Miguel Cardona, as the next US secretary of education.

Cardona was appointed state superintendent in Connecticut in August 2019. According to Cardona’s Linkedin bio, he earned his bachelors in education from Central Connecticut State University (1993-1997) and several degrees/certifications from the University of Connecticut: masters degree in bilingual and bicultural education (1999-2001); education leadership certification (2001-2003); Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in educational leadership and administration (2007-2012), and executive leadership certification (superintendency and educational system administration (2012).

Cardona was an elementary school teacher in Meriden, CT, for about five years, but for some reason, he has not included this info on his Linkedin bio. He does list his five years as an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut (2015-2019) and his many administrative positions, including ten years as principal (2003-2013), two years as an evaluator (2013-2015), and four years as an assistant superintendent (2015-2019), all with Meriden Public Schools.

Cardona is clearly not fly-by-night when it comes to professional time in public education; however, his time in the K12 classroom is limited, and it was long ago (presumably between 1997 and 2003). It’s not Teach for America “token teaching,” but it is not a K12 classroom career. It’s more like an administrative springboard. That noted, Cardona’s administrative rise is gradual, across decades, and his degrees and certifications are from traditional institutions and build upon one another. He has spent his professional career in Connecticut, where he is from, with much of his time in the public school system from which he graduated, Meriden Public Schools. Cardona’s parents emigrated from Puerto Rico as children, and Cardona, Connecticut’s first Latino state ed commissioner, was born in public housing. 

Chalkbeat has an excellent article on Cardona’s education positions, which are middle-of-road enough to please both pro-charter and anti-charter/pro-union camps. He is described as “more of an educator than a politician or ideologue”; he does not like tying teacher evaluations to standardized tests, though he considers standardized testing as “important guideposts to our promise of equity.” Also, during his state ed confirmation hearing, Cardona called charter school choice “a viable option,” even as he clarified that neighborhood schools would be his “core work.”

Biden’s selection of Cardona as US ed sec is in keeping with his efforts to unify and to avoid extremes even as he chooses someone with teaching experience. Too, Cardona’s appointment further fulfils Biden’s promise to appoint persons of color to his Cabinet. 

The December 22, 2020, Biden-Harris Transition press release on Cardona’s selection includes this statement from Biden:

In Miguel Cardona, America will have an experienced and dedicated public school teacher leading the way at the Department of Education — ensuring that every student is equipped to thrive in the economy of the future, that every educator has the resources they need to do their jobs with dignity and success, and that every school is on track to reopen safely. He will help us address systemic inequities, tackle the mental health crisis in our education system, give educators a well-deserved raise, ease the burden of education debt, and secure high-quality, universal pre-K for every three- and four year-old in the country. As a lifelong champion of public education, he understands that our children are the kite strings that keep our national ambitions aloft — and that everything that will be possible for our country tomorrow will be thanks to the investments we make and the care that our educators and our schools deliver today.

As for other practical, K12 ed policy/procedure changes that I could see happening in the Biden administration, I expect moderate shifts but shifts nonetheless. These might include

  • not completely removing annual testing but reducing the number of grade levels that must test and tamping down the usage of such tests to grade schools and teachers;
  • not removing federal funding for charter schools but incorporating the funding as part of Title I and instituting/strengthening accountability for money spent on charters and related education companies.

At any rate, I am hopeful that Cardona is a far cry from Duncan and DeVos.

Miguel Cardona


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  1. Laura H.Chapman permalink

    See also what you learn from the Connecticut’s Department of Education 2020 plan for “reimagining education.” Also what i recently found and posted on Daine’s website about EdWeek’s ( weak) ideas about how Dr. Cordona will address issues.

  2. Virginia Starrett permalink

    The man has stated his top priority is bringing critical race theory into K-12 Classrooms. He is about as ideological as a person can be. He is not a unifier at all.

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