US President-elect Joe Biden held true to his promise of electing a teacher for education secretary, announcing he had chosen Connecticut Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona for the position on Tuesday.
Cardona, a veteran teacher and school administrator, is widely seen as a welcome addition to Biden’s cabinet, not just because of his credentials but also because of his Latino roots.
In his position as education secretary, Cardona will be expected to help the elementary, secondary, and higher education systems recover from the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Other Candidates Previously Considered
Before Cardona was chosen, four other contenders were under consideration. These included Lily Eskelsen García, a former president of the National Education Association endorsed by several Hispanic civil rights groups; Randi Weingarten, a labor leader and president of the American Federation of Teachers since 2008; Leslie Fenwick, dean emeritus of the Howard University School of Education; and Sharon Contreras, County Schools Superintendent of Guilford, North Carolina.
An educator will lead our Department of Education.
I am proud to nominate Dr. Miguel Cardona to ensure our teachers are taken care of, and our children have an opportunity to thrive.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 23, 2020
While the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) originally endorsed García, they also expressed their strong support for Cardona’s candidacy in a letter sent to Politico on December 18.
“The members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are proud to offer our enthusiastic endorsement of Mr Miguel Cardona for Secretary of Education,” the CHC explained.
“As a Spanish-only speaking student when he first started school, Mr Cardona fully grasps the challenges that English as a Second Language (ESL) Learners, Latinos, and other minority students face in America’s classrooms,” they continued.
Biden’s Plans for Education
During his campaign, Biden promised to reduce the funding gap between wealthy and low-income public schools.
He also campaigned on making community college free and has said that he would push for a coronavirus relief package to help schools prepare for reopening amidst the pandemic. This would include funding to improve ventilation systems and to hire more teachers so that students can be taught in smaller classes.
He has further promised to expand federal financial aid and cancel some student debt.