Campaign Continues to Live up to Diversity Promise

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

On Wednesday, December 23, President-elect Joe Biden selected Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona as his nominee for education secretary.

Cardona’s nomination delivers on Biden’s campaign pledge to appoint an individual with public school experience, following President Donald Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who championed private schools and mostly turned a blinds-eye to the plight of underserved students.

The nomination also demonstrates Biden’s intentions on having what he’s called the most diverse administration in U.S. history. Cardona would be just the nation’s second Puerto Rican education secretary.

“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,” Biden said in a statement.

“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.”

Biden called Cardona a “lifelong champion of public education.”

Cardona was appointed Connecticut’s commissioner of education in 2019 after more than two decades as a public school educator.

He began his career as an elementary school teacher and later served ten years as a school principal. 

In 2013, Cardona became the assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

“Given the significant educational and economic declines impacting the nation this year, the new secretary of education, is a pivotal component of the overall success of the Biden administration, and for African Americans progress in particular,” Nicole L. McDonald, the assistant vice provost for Student Success Strategies at the University of Houston, wrote in an email to the Black Press.

“Moving forward, African Americans should expect President-elect Biden to position education and educational attainment as part of the front-line defense in the nation’s economic recovery and workforce development, commitment to social justice and criminal justice reform, and in improving the accessibility of health and human services,” McDonald wrote.

She continued:

“Moving past what minorities have endured under Secretary Betsy DeVos, requires a secretary of education with the experience, commitments, and especially the innovation to be a secretary of education for African Americans, and other minoritized and poor people. The way to move the needle for the United States educationally and economically, the way to lift all boats – is to lift from the bottom.”