Dear Future Teachers,
In January of 2021, the United States will inaugurate President-elect Joseph Biden as the 46th President of the United States. With a new Commander in Chief comes a new Presidential Cabinet. One seat I've been anxiously waiting to hear about myself is the position of Secretary of Education. Biden nominated Miguel Cardona to become the next Secretary of Education, replacing Secretary Betsy DeVos. As aspiring or current teachers, it's important to stay updated on who is leading the country's education initiative, so I wanted to use this week's post getting to know nominee Cardona a little bit better!
Who is Miguel Cardona?
Cardona, 45, was born in Connecticut to Puerto Rican parents. His first language was Spanish, so Cardona began school as an English Language Learner (ELL). Cardona completed his educational career in Connecticut, attaining a B.S. degree in Education from Central Connecticut State School, an M.S. in Bilingual and Bicultural Education from the University of Connecticut in 2001, and he became a Doctor of Education in 2011. He is currently married with two children of his own.
Due to his own personal experiences in the education system as a native Spanish-speaker, Cardona has placed a large emphasis on English Language Learners in schools. His dissertation was focused on closing the opportunity gap between English Language Learners and their English-speaking peers.
If confirmed, Cardona will be the second Puerto Rican and third Latinx Secretary of Education.
Cardona began his career as an elementary public school teacher in Connecticut before becoming a principal in 2003. At 28 years old, Cardona was the youngest person to become principal in the state. In 2012, Cardona was named Principal of the Year for Connecticut. After serving as principal for 10 years, Cardona became the Assistant Superintendent of Meriden, Connecticut. More recently, in 2019, Cardona was appointed as the Connecticut Commissioner of Education, becoming the first Latino to fulfill this position.
His career and involvement in the public education system is one area that drastically differs from predecessor DeVos, who has been criticized for her lack of experience in the sphere of public schools.
Viewpoints on current key issues
Cardona has expressed interest in reopening Connecticut schools for in-person instruction, following precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and likely will advocate to reopen U.S. schools for students as well.
Charter schools have become a hot topic in the discussion around education, but Cardona has not made strong statements for or against charter schools for the time being.
Connecticut schools waived high-stakes testing requirements last school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however this school year, testing is expected to resume as normal. Cardona hasn't been reported to be a strong critic of high stakes testing, but he does believe there should be multiple methods of evaluating teacher performance. Cardona stated that testing can be used to evaluate where gaps have been created this school year.
According to EdWeek, Cardona will oversee Biden's plans to "encourage voluntary school desegregation, and to train, recruit, and retain more teachers of color."
On teacher unions, Cardona has been known to be in support of working with teachers and teacher unions.
If confirmed, it'll be interesting to see what decisions Miguel Cardona makes within the next few years, and how he advocates for the teachers and students of our nation. Every day I hope for a positive and effective change in U.S. schools, especially while we are in the midst of an unconventional school year. I hope to follow up with updates on our next U.S. Secretary of Education within the next presidential term and keep you all updated as well!