Education News

Five reasons educators are excited about Miguel Cardona

By Amanda Menas / AP photo of Miguel Cardona from Jan. 28, 2020

On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden announced former public elementary school teacher and union member, and current Connecticut Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona as his pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education. 

“When a record number of Americans turned out to vote for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, they sent a resounding message demanding justice, stronger public schools and more opportunities for all students — Black and white, Native and newcomer, Hispanic and Asian alike,” said former science teacher and NEA President Becky Pringle.

“In these tough times, students, educators, and families face unprecedented challenges — from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis to the systemic racism that has held back too many students for too long. We look forward to partnering with Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona in taking on these challenges together,” Pringle said.

Cardona will work as part of the Biden-Harris administration to invest in the nation’s public schools — because all students deserve a safe, welcoming, well-resourced school, no matter where they live. As a person of color, he is an inspiration to many, particularly students who will see in him a reflection of their own experiences. With a deep knowledge of the issues impacting students inside and outside the classroom, Secretary-designate Cardona knows that we must make improvements for our students by tackling issues such as housing insecurity, hunger, and economic instability, to help our students succeed. 

Here are five things you should know about Cardona’s policies that have educators excited:

Miguel Cardona has supported trauma-informed practices in schools.

He has experience teaching in public schools

Cardona began his career in education as a fourth-grade public elementary school teacher before becoming the youngest principal in the state at age 28. In 2012 he was named Connecticut’s principal of the year and served as co-chairman of the Legislative Achievement Gap Task Force. 

Cardona is someone who respects educators as the professionals that they are, will listen to our experiences as the people who know the names of our students, and will ensure that we have a voice in developing and implementing education policy. 

He will be a welcome change from Betsy DeVos

Unlike DeVos, Secretary-designate Cardona will ensure that the federal government’s role in education is to improve access and opportunity for every student. He is someone who will defend our students’ civil rights and focus on the success of all students. 

Shortly after being appointed Connecticut Commissioner of Education, Cardona said that closing the achievement gap was “top of the list” for him and that he would look at improvements that could be made “inside the schoolhouse” and “outside the schoolhouse” such as “housing insecurity, hunger… economic instability.” To that end, he will work collaboratively to promote education models such as community schools and policies that provide whole student support. 

He has kept a focus on equity during the COVID-19 pandemic

In June 2020, Cardona said, “Fixing the digital divide is a major focus” during the COVID-19 pandemic. An analysis found that Connecticut was “the first state in the country to provide its public school students with universal access to learning devices,” including “a laptop and access to high-speed internet so they can log in to school remotely during the pandemic.” 

He has championed racial justice 

During his tenure as Commissioner of Education, he pushed for Connecticut to become the first state in the nation requiring more culturally diverse courses by requiring all high schools to offer courses on African-American, Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino studies. He also announced programs to entice more students of color to become teachers and to get Connecticut college students already planning a teaching career into the classroom quicker.

He holds charter schools accountable

In February 2020, the Connecticut State Board of Education placed three local school districts within the Achievement First charter network on probation after they repeatedly violated “the state’s ground rules for operating a public school.” Cardona said “the network’s repeated non-compliance with state regulations made it seem like Achievement First thought of their oversight as ‘somewhat of a nuisance.’”

238 responses to “Five reasons educators are excited about Miguel Cardona

  1. Thank-youPresident-Elect Biden for nominating an educator for this very important position. I am a retired elementary teacher and appreciate Mr. Cardona’s background as an elementary teacher and principal. He knows what works and what doesn’t and will put public education first with equality for all of our students! Best wishes and congratulations to him! Finally, an educator in charge of this top priority department!

  2. As a recently retired Wisconsin teacher and union president, I know that public education needs to be on the top of everyone’s list of priorities. We need to get it right for alll of our students, our families, and our communities. Mr. Cardona seems to be above and beyond qualified and will advocate for public schools, their students, and staff!!!

  3. I am a retired teacher from North Carolina and very excited about our new Secretary of Education. I have been praying for someone to help our education system and my prayers have answered. Looking forward to great things for all educators and our children of all colors.

  4. MarineBob,
    Why is that troubling? The state and Federal “unions” are the teacher’s professional organizations that both represent us in our negotiations and provide additional training with support in problem areas. For far too long we have received much resistance from local, state, and national leaders in education. I don’t want a “yes-man”, but I do want someone to come to the table for thorough and honest discussions; someone who will bring influence to consider the perspective of “the boots on the ground”. He will be on my prayers.

  5. I am glad that we will have a Secretary of Education who will hold charter schools accountable. He has an impressive background with public education, and I am confident that he will help improve public education on a national level.

  6. We are back in business for students , educators, equity, social justice, social emotional, academic and career development support that matters! Let’s get to work! Teacher/School counselor, Anna Cicero , AZ.

  7. President-elect Biden gets it. The nomination of Miguel Cardona, a former public school teacher, principal of the year and experienced administrator is heartening. It will, hopefully, end the dangerous, stated intent by the current administration to “deconstruct” the “administrative state” or functioning government departments. That deconstruction for all departments has been undermining and demoralizing including education. It has been downright dangerous for departments such as Homeland Security, State, National Security, etc.
    Thanks goodness stability is returning.

  8. As a life-long teacher, I applaud the choice if a leader who has known the love, joys and trials of being a classroom teacher. I hope for intelligent leadership for the duty of preparing our youth for productive life in a democracy.

  9. The nomination a former teacher, administrator, and current parent and state education officer to be US Secretary of Education is a no-brainer! Dr. Cardona actually knows how to work with students and what our schools face today. He also thinks education unions have a valuable place in the education picture. Thank you President Elect Biden and VP Elect Harris. You kept your word! – retired veteran teacher, Florida Ed. Assoc. President, Broward County School Board Member

  10. As a Teacher , I know in this time is very important to be represented for a person who care about our needs and who cares about the trauma, stres, anxiety, depression, we are going through. Mr Cardona is the right person who will help us.

  11. I guess we’ll see. The NEA hasn’t done much to elevate the “gap” except to indoctrinate a whole generation on systemic racism, along with other errors.

  12. I have been teaching in Florida for 30 years. My base salary is 63,050. My best friend rom high school, Jill, who graduated from Danbury High School a year after me was making a base salary of 81,5000 when I was making 45,000. Thk God, someone from Ct. will be in charge. We all do the same job. A person from Ct. can retire and move to Florida and be financially secure. But a teacher in Florida can not retire and live in Ct. I miss home

  13. Mr. Cordona,
    Please do not institute any widespread policy like No Child Left Behind. Make improvements within models that have been successful. Give guidance where individual schools can make decisions that benefit their students. Wish you the best in this great opportunity.
    Marty Congle

  14. It is truly rewarding to have the secretary of education have a background starting with elementary education. As a teacher who started in 1967, I feel his experience will benefit everyone from the students, teachers, parents and community. He will make us proud!

  15. I’m pleased to learn that Mr. Cardona is making Charter Schools accountable..
    Welcome! Looking forward to your expertise.

  16. Imagine that…an EDUCATOR leading the US Department of Education…I’ll be darned! On another note…BUH BYE BETSY!!!

  17. What credentials! Loves public education and students. Understands the importance of quality education for all of our students. Laptops for all students in Connecticut. Wow! Being a union member means he understands how and why students, educators, support staff, and families need strong advocates. As a former president of the Kentucky Education Association, I received some of my best education in diversity training, impact of poverty in children’s lives, and much more from the NEA. I wholeheartedly welcome CT Commissioner to be on the Biden Harris team. Everything he offers has been missing on the federal level from DeVos for 4 years!

  18. As a recently retired teacher from Florida I am excited for all my colleagues who will benefit from Mr. Cardona’s wealth of experience and love of public education! May he remain a true champion for public education! We have been praying for someone who has been in the trenches with us and who truly understands the profession.
    Thank You President-Elect Biden for choosing a man who not only served on many different levels of public education but who was also a union member!
    I dearly hope that Mr. Cardona never forgets where he came from and includes the professional experts, educators, in making decisions about what will benefit educators and students. I also hope he continues to hold charter schools accountable EXACTLY as public schools are held accountable, especially considering they receive public tax dollars.
    We are waiting to exhale, to breathe a sigh of relief, and to be able to serve our students, community and profession with the love, passion, and freedom that will make public education strong again! Let’s Go!!!!

  19. As a former educator, military service member, and advocate for successful public education, I am looking forward to a Secretary who has leadership skills, and understand the importance of equity in pre-Kindergarten -16 education nationwide. Miguel Cordona is also prepared to address the importance of Family Engagement in planning for student success.

  20. I am glad to have someone coming in, that has experience in a public school. I do hope that he looks into giving public school teachers raises. Public school teachers are over worked and underpaid. Especially through the pandemic.

  21. Our kids are our greatest asset! Every child deserves a great public education in the community in which they live.
    We have a long way to go but we have great public school teachers all across this nation.
    Fund education first and we will all be the better for it.

    We are rooting for you Mr Cardona!

  22. Felecitacions en su posicion en el gabinete !I was a middle school bilingual teacher who is now retired. I was always an advocate for them. They are still in my heart!

  23. MONTANA voted Republican in this election and did not replace the head
    at the Office of Public Instruction…who gave significant Educational funds
    away to private schools under the table to support her own re-election political gain
    after previous poor performance to manage OPI –for ALL students.

    Keep a watchful EYE on Montana schools, who are struggling to stay some of
    the TOP schools in America. I am a 30 yr veteran of Education, in Montana,
    still teaching in this chaos called Covid Pandemic. I see daily what happens to kids
    below the poverty level who do not have access-remotely…as school choose Remote learning over and over. We are looking at at least 2-3 back log in credit recovery.
    This teacher has to work twice as hard to keep these students connected to school–as parents struggle with the decision to choose family Survival over school and its technology.
    It’s a no brainer…school work will suffer.

    We can not even get our State Legislature to make an informed decision whether
    to wear masks while in session…still playing politics with other peoples lives. We also
    have Senators who still refuse to acknowledge Biden-Harris won the election. :-{

    Be READY, the consequences have yet to surface.
    The future of Montana children is a stake if schools don’t get the proper funding they need.

    Keep watch, here.

  24. As a person of color and someone who was educated in the public system. I am very excited about this new change. I am currently on the board of a public school district that is underfunded. I welcome Mr. Cordona and look forward the great things coming for public education.

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