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.’”

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

  1. The pandemic has magnified inequities amongst socio-economic classes and the important role of schools in a functioning society. Mr. Cardona appears to have the right professional background and intent to bring much needed reform to public education. As we eventually return to in-person classes ‘SEL’ will be the name of the game. Let’s focus on less standardized testing, and teaching critical thinking, understanding and skills for future job markets, please!

  2. As a veteran teacher with Chicago Public Schools, I am hopeful with President-elect Joe Biden’s choice. I would like to know the number of years Cardona was a classroom teacher and in what grade-level/specialty.

  3. I’m a retired teacher from the NYC Public School system, I’m also a product of that system. I believe in public schools with highly trained teachers. My real estate taxes pay for that system. Education is a right, not a privilege. And schools are intended to produce a generation that can think for itself, not to line the pockets of grifters like Betsy DeVos. Thank you President Biden for making this happen! And welcome Mr. Cardona.

  4. Thank you for not turning the other way when dealing with charter schools! They always get the benefit of the doubt.

  5. I bet not a thing changes they will still short change public schools in order to line their pockets. Those that think otherwise have been sleeping for the last 30 years as no matter who was in charge schools and safety continue to get worse

  6. I am a recently retired Michigan public school teacher. It is wonderful to see a Sec of education that understands the importance of helping public education thrive and support hard working educators in this most important work. Jennine Senkbeil

  7. For many educators, Miguel Cardona’s union background speaks volumes to those of us in the profession. It is a welcomed change from Betsy DeVos’s total disconnect with public schools and her efforts to try to convince the public that private/cyber is better. Of what little I have read of Miquel Cardona it sounds like he believes in public schools and public schools are their best when they have well educated, professional, strong union leaders protecting the quality of education being provided, the safety and well being of their students and their staff and professionally collaborating with their administrations and communities. My experience with my union in PA has been to better prepare me to do all of these as well as encouraging me to utilize best practices in my classrooms. I am very happy that Miguel Cardona has a union background. And MarineBob, I expect that there are many more like me.

  8. He is not a teacher. He was in the classroom a few years before jumping right into administration. That is a major problem with many administrators today. He seems like a career ladder “climber” to me not and educator. Secondly, how can the post not go to a woman? I am not satisfied with this choice.

  9. This is so awesome on many levels. I have been in Education for over 30 years. None of the Secretary of Education represented me. I think is about time we have a face, a name, and most importantly someone who has been in my shoes with respect to teaching in Urban Public Schools. Someone who resembles me and the many millions of students across the United States. I wish Miguel Cardona the best. Go show them how things are done!

    1. Marine, a union member works hard to be the best teacher. Teachers put students first when planning and developing a learning environment. Our teacher unions provide learning opportunities for teachers to be more efficient and better equipped to meet the needs of the students. Yes, unions also protect the teachers and support staff to make sure school districts are meeting the needs of all. Parents and teachers are advocates for students. Unions are advocates for educators. I will not apologize or have guilt for being a union member. There have been times in my 34 year career in education that I needed an advocate. I am so please to see Mr. Cardona in this role of Sec. of Education.

    2. Do you have the same reservations of doctors who belong to the AMA? Or lawyers in the Bar Association? How do you feel about the people in the Chamber of Commerce? Republican or Democratic Parties?
      Organized Labor have brought us 40 hour work weeks, workers comp, paid vacation time, safety legislation and many other things. They enforce ethical standards better than other organizations but are criticized when it goes public.

    3. Why? EVERYONE in the public service sector is represented by a union, that includes police, firefighters and TEACHERS. Being anti-union marks you as pro Trump. Too bad, he lost.

    4. I’m a Union Thug
      by Jack Burgess

      I’m a union thug.
      I attack management with
      accusations of excess greed.
      force them to confront
      their own mortality,
      which god-like they abhor.
      I shoot bulletins in all directions,
      unfairly arming workers
      with uncomfortable facts.
      I strangle repressive ideas about
      the evils of public service or
      the virtue of taxing the poor,
      before the high Grover can
      float them in his bathtub
      with wily words.

      I force owners to answer
      when mines explode, rigs collapse,
      or radiation spreads its cancers.
      I have stolen from my underpaid supporters
      two worn out ballpoint pens,
      and a nap or two after arguing with
      repression all night,
      and I’m here to turn myself i

    5. Educators are entrusted with the MOST VALUABLE resource of America, our youth! They deserve to be represented by an experienced, professional, which Cardona appears to be!
      Only once in the very first paragraph does this article mention “union member”, so why the concern. The majority of educator, along with other public sector employees, belong to their local and State Educators Associations along with the NEA. These associations help to ensure that public employees are protected from political influence and have fair, equitable working conditions and salaries in comparison to the private sector. Not to mention, Unions built this country!

    6. Teacher’s unions are fighting for fair and equitable access for students. Want to know what my union is asking for:

      Class sizes under 30, special education teachers so the caseloads are under 40 so they can actually work with kids rather than spend all their time on paperwork, academic programs that HELP students, increased counselors and support staff, Deans to assist with truancy and home concerns, fair wages, reasonable work accommodations, communication from administration, curriculum resources.

      Notice all of this seems like it would be obvious that it is needed….but those evil unions, fighting for access to support their students. THEY are the problem. SHM!

    7. Why is this troubling? When union membership was at it’s highest, the United States of America was at a period of prosperity, greater social mobility, and peace for a large majority of Americans as denoted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor.
      I would humbly suggest that you a.) spend some time examining the American historical record of the labor movement generally and educationally in an empirical way , emphasizing quantitative data that is value free; b.) examine educational systems worldwide and the causality between teacher empowerment and student achievement in the class room and beyond, and; c.) be aware of any bias in your thought process based on belief systems that have never been questioned or analyzed. Have a joyous and peaceful holiday season!

    8. Really “MarineBob”? Other than the reference to Mr Cardona’s union membership in the first paragraph, no where else is there a mention of unions.

      I’m delighted that he understands trauma informed practices and gets that there’s a digital divide in our schools. Hungry kids can’t learn and that he will address food insecurity is vital to the success of our schools.

      And encouraging people of color to enter the teaching profession is exactly what our kids need in the classroom.

    9. Unless I am missing something, I see one reference to his union membership. There is another statement supporting him by the NEA president. (It’s on an NEA affiliated website.). There are lots of things in the article that reinforce his commitment to public education. Is that what bothers you? I would wonder where our country would be without public education.

    10. Why? Teachers’ Unions are necessary for a myriad of reasons. Don’t believe the disinformation you might read. Ask an educator, volunteer in your schools, etc. and learn about today’s public education system.

    11. I disagree. Unions are very important for educators. This profession has not been recognized for the work that we do. The unions work to be sure that a work environment is safe, teachers are protected from irate parents who vent their personal frustrations on the educator, it helps to qualify appropriate curriculum, and myriad other issues.

    12. Are you/ were you a teacher? I was for 37 years, and a proud member of NEA. I can assure that the NEA wants nothing more than great schools for every child.

    13. I don’t know what article you read but all I saw was a mention that he was a union member in the first paragraph. It’s just a part of his credentials. How is that troubling?

    14. He is a Biden appointee. Biden has identified he wants to close the bipartisan, devicive gap in this country

      To follow suit, Biden appointed an education commissioner who will do his administrative duties, all while keeping the union’s needs in mind.

      If everyone works together, more will be accomplished

    15. Sad to hear you feel that way.

      This article only states that he was a member of NEA when he was a teacher. Since, in most cases, such membership is not optional, that doesn’t necessarily imply a ‘strong union affiliation’.

      I infer this means you’re not a fan of unions. Or is it that you’re just not a fan of teachers’ unions.

    16. Educators Unions are about more than “ salaries and benefits”. Standing together, we have stood up for our schools and students as people who do the day to day work. Our collective voice ,gives power to our allies: our students families. I am proud to be an NEA member who gives voice to ALL our school community !!💪

    17. Without unions, teachers would still be working for the privilege of room and board in the back of someone’s home rather than wages. Nobody goes into teaching for the money, but they shouldn’t have to work two and three jobs to survive either.

    18. May I infer that you found Sec. DeVos’s strong affiliation with privatization organizations troubling, too?

    19. Education is strengthened by unions. Do your homework, look at the states with the best public education, all union strong. Looking forward to Dr. Cardona and his leadership.

    20. Unfortunately with many in the general public exhibiting a position of making teachers the villains when we are expected to solve many student problems outside of actually educating students more states need access to some sort of support. Here in SC we have dismal pay, horrible benefits, and will be going to school next week 5 days face to face. 45 staff members tested positive for COVID on a 2 day week. We don’t have a strong voice or protection like teachers in states who have a union. We need someone who will look out for us.

    21. There is ideological differences between management style in the corporate America and the public school system. The former is dictatorial in nature, but the latter is democratic. Those of us who chose to have a collective voice are proud members of our union and welcome Dr. Cardona.

  10. As much as Betsy DeVos we need a change from Arne Duncan. Have a lot of concerns that this did not happen. Read Newsweek’s article. A slap in the face.

  11. Anybody is better than DeVos, and I am glad to see that a compassionate, educated educator has dethroned this Gorgon of a secretary. Teachers are the most valuable resource we have and it’s high time they get the credit and the respect they deserve.

  12. My wife just retired after 23 years in the classroom, she and all her colleagues have been disrespected by the republicans for too long. This is a much needed correction to devos and the destruction on the right. Having an educator that is a positive leader is fantastic! Congratulations Mr. Cordona, this is very exciting.

  13. I certainly do believe that all American People especially immigrants, minorities, and natives deserve their rights to education. We need to be certain that we pass new programs and regulations to ensure that everyone gets their education.

  14. Thank you President Elect Biden! We teachers are so very excited to see that you have chosen an amazing former public school teacher & principal to be a champion for our kids! Unlike DeVos, Cardona has been in the trenches and knows what it takes to educate our most precious gifts… our children! He knows through experience that there is only one way to get kids out of poverty …. and that’s through a quality education! Way to go ! Finally a Secretary of Education that will support educators all over our country & one that we can believe in and be proud of for years to come!

  15. Congratulations to the Biden-Harris administration for choosing someone that would give teachers a place at the table. I wish Mr. Cardona continued success.

  16. All five of those are excellent reasons for excitement. At the present time his nightmarish approach to forcing schools reopened and causing many outbreaks and denying their obvious role in those and endangering students, school staff, and their families to major health damage and possibly death is overshadowing all five of those because none of those mean anything if you are dead.

  17. So Proud to see the representation of my culture in education
    I wish the best to Mr. Cardona to continue leading with the hand in the heart and always thinking I the most vulnerable, teachers, parents, and students in the communities.
    We will know that we are doing good if the most vulnerables are doing good!
    I hope to meet him someday

  18. He must place public education first above Charter schools. It is urgent. Public schools should keep the monies for true public education,, Charter schools take liberties with their standards and who they accept Improve and raise the monies and standards public education for everyone. A retired secondary teacher with astonishing results.

  19. What can you do for a district that had Vocational Education, but for lack of money retired Vocational Education certify teachers and closed Vocational Centers. I loved working with students involved with using robotics to build useful robots in competition with other robots. It was a chance to see the partnership of industry, schools parents, and teachers work as a unit for the success of students in a changing nanotech environment.

  20. He also supports using test scores in teacher evaluations, wants school open even though we are in a pandemic, and really only taught for 5-6 years before becoming an administrator. I think there were better options.

  21. Thank you God for giving us someone that will doing good for our Education system. I knew President elect would do good in picking the right person.

  22. I’m feeling such relief that we have leadership for our public schools. It’s encouraging to read about his support of community and restorative schools.

  23. I am hopeful that our students/children will NOW actually be put first and NOT be left behind! Finally glad to see that someone with first hand public education experience is leading the way.

  24. Congratulations Mr. Cardona you have been where the rubber meets the road in the classroom. GOD BLESS YOU and looking forward to all the positive changes you will be making for the betterment of all students. I am a retired Bilingual Elemantary Education Educator.

  25. Congratulations! I am a retired bilingual middle school teacher from New Jersey.
    I was an advocate for those children as well as a voice for their parents. Believe me it was not easy for these children to assimilate and sometimes I felt the same way.
    You will be a good role model as well as a fair and just leader.
    I was also very active in our Union. That is a great experience and voice for teachers.Buena suerte en su position en el gabinete!

  26. As an elementary and secondary public school teacher retiree from Michigan I welcome Miguel Cardona. What a breath of fresh air.

    I have served as a Legislator ambassador representing retirees in public school education for the state of Michigan. If I could be of any assistance to you Mr. Cardona please let me know.

    For now I wish you the best.

  27. As a retired public school teacher from Tennessee who is now working in early intervention with infants, toddlers, and their families, I’m overjoyed to see a career public school educator being selected for. Education Secretary. It sounds like Mr. Cardona will be a balm on the wounds of our schools, students, families, and school faculty and staff. Thank you, President-Elect Biden!

  28. As a public school teacher in FL, I am thrilled with this choice. I look forward to working for my students under Mr. Cardona’s expert leadership.

  29. He is NOT one of us. He’s a career administrator, not a teacher. Turned principal at age 28. I guess by that time he either a) figured he knew enough about teaching to tell others how to teach or b) knew he wouldn’t last in the classroom and had to get out.

    He’s also been pushing to send kids back to school — at a time when cases a0in Connecticut are four times higher than last spring.

    Better than DeVos? Sure. But that’s a very low bar indeed. The NEA is really good at standing up to Republicans. But it is also really good at lying down for the Democrats.

  30. Another exceptionally qualified person in President Biden’s Cabinet. How refreshing that public education will be helped, not harmed.

  31. As a retired teacher who struggled along with my colleagues in an underfunded, highly diverse middle school, lacking adequate supplies and training to help our students, I am thrilled to see this new, vital attitude for our public schools! Bravo! And Best Wishes to Mr. Cordona, the teachers who will work under him, and all our deserving students in the next four years! I expect to see many wonderful changes across this country as our public schools and students get the support they so rightfully deserve!

    1. As a retired High School Administrator and College teacher from New York now leaving in Fla. I compliment President Elect Biden on the fine choice of Mr. Carson’s as the Secretary of Education.It will be wonderful to see someone from the classroom in this position! Good luck Mr Secretary. Neal Aronin

    2. Amazing selection to fill a critical position! This man has the experience and training and frontline efforts that will allow him to work with our educators to succeed with all students!
      Mary Lee Moore, Retired
      Federal Education Program Director
      Former Member of NAFEPA

    3. I BELIEVE WE WILL HAVE A BETTER 4 year period during this administration.. we are off to a great start… (diversity, across the spectrum… reaching out where problems exist… and making them better instead of ignoring many important issues.. that are cited in this article… unite and strive for needed educational success 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻‼️

  32. We have to eliminate the achievement gap! We can’t have another failed generation due to Willie Lynch programming. We have to hire teachers that can captivate our children’s inner champions. I pray that Mr. Cardona can facilitate change🙌🏾

  33. As a retired teacher from Florida, I’m so relieved that we will have a Secretary of Education with public school experience. His heart is in the right place and public education’s future is bright.

    1. I totally agree. The tenure of the most unqualified DeVos was an insult to American students and educators. I feel confident that our new Secretary will know exactly what needs fixing. 👏👏👏👏👏

  34. I have always felt the Voucher System & Charter Schools were the Trojan Horses
    of the privatization of Public Education. Pleased to read the Secretary-Designates
    views.

  35. As a retired teacher from Connecticut and Illinois public schools, I wish Mr. Cardona all the best. Betsy DeVos was a disaster, in keeping with most of Trump’s cabinet members. My daughter and son-in-law are teachers and have kept me fully informed as to the pathetic decline our public schools have suffered under the incompetent Secretary of Education. She did her best to step on the public schools while touting the charter school movement, indifferent to and ignorant of the larger picture. Her departure is most welcome and long overdue.

  36. He sounds like a promising educational leader. I hope he also picks advisers from middle and secondary schools. Throughout my career I have felt that the secondary level tended to be neglected, in both teacher education and professional development programs. I also hope that he promotes global education and not just STEM. Americans have shown themselves to be ignorant of the rest of the world in recent years. Our students also need to show more discernment in seeking information.

  37. I hope he is better than Arne Duncan and the other guy who was all in with charter schools, and he better be better than Devos. These people have had horrible legislation concerning teachers. Our student loans, almost 30 years and still paying a student loan? Living in a first world country with 3rd world legislation concerning our loans…wait some 3rd world countries forgive student loans after a certain amount of years! So many teachers teach in Title one schools their entire career which is 30 years in florida and most states (I think). With the extra challenges we face, there should be someone advocating for debt control for us. And, those of us who have taught in title one school most or all of our careers should be forgiven of student loans at least after 15 years. Let us also get rid of the arbitrary and subjective Marzano teacher evaluation as well.

    Let us not forget charter schools maybe not for profit but they are profitting off of the backs of tax payers who are sending their children to traditional schools- these schools are taking money (private non denomination as well religious) from real public schools especially in low income communities.

    What a riddiculous idea: students are performing poorly and the answer to help them perform better is: take money away from their schools and give it to a private entity (charter and private schools). Let us also give public tax funds to schools which does not acknowledge our LGBT youths. It is disgusting and I hope something is done about all of this. These schools get the same funding without the same accountability!!

  38. As an elementary school counselor, the book that Mr. Cordona was holding up was honey to my heart. Counselors are often holding the whole school trying to help students make positive changes and help students seek academic success and facilitate SEL in the classroom and work through much trauma students experience +, +, +. Glad you are on board and working with the Biden-Harris administration.

    1. Fellow counselor here – thanks for your words! I’m hopeful we can move in the right directions now. Best wishes to our fellow educators across the nation who voted for much needed change at the highest level on behalf of public education.

  39. A refreshing change for sure- someone with actual knowledge of how to provide education to all learners. Thank you

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