President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his pick for education secretary Wednesday – the current Connecticut education commissioner, Miguel Cardona.
With the addition of Cardona, whose parents moved to Connecticut from Puerto Rico, Biden continues to make good on his diversity pledge.
‘Already there are more people of color in this cabinet than in the history of the United States,’ Biden said at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware. ‘There are more women than ever. The first openly gay Cabinet member. It’s a Cabinet that looks like America. That taps into the best of America.’
President-elect Joe Biden introduced Connecticut’s education commissioner, Miguel Cardona, as his secretary of education pick during a brief appearance Wednesday in Wilmington. Cardona, who’s Latino, adds more diversity to Biden’s cabinet
President-elect Joe Biden (center) announced his education secretary Miguel Cardona (right) on Wednesday at the Queen theater in Wilmington alongside Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (left)
Biden, whose wife Dr. Jill Biden is an educator, had long-promised to pick someone with classroom experience to lead his Department of Education.
Cardona taught fourth grade in the same public school system he attended in his youth and went on to become the state’s youngest principal.
He was the first Latino to serve as Connecticut’s education commissioner.
Cardona has pushed for schools to stay open amid the pandemic – with safety protocols put in place.
‘Reopening schools safely will be a national priority in a Biden-Harris Administration,’ Biden said Wednesday.
He’s said he wants to see public schools reopened within his first 100 days in office.
Throughout the pandemic, the Trump administration also pushed to have in-person instruction, as oppposed to at-home, virtual learning.
On the campaign trail, Biden took issue with this because the administration didn’t provide educators with personal protective equipment to reopen schools safely.
On Wednesday, Biden criticized the ‘mixed signals from the White House that have left more confusion than calm, that have left so many parents and schools feeling like they’re on their own.’
Biden said education-related COVID funding would be needed for testing, transportation – so students can be more socially distant on school buses – and also for school buildings, to provide them with adequate ventilation systems, as well as cleaning services and protective equipment.
Cardona vowed to ‘forge opportunity out of crisis.’
‘Though we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel, we also know that this crisis is ongoing, that we will carry its impacts for years to come, and that the problems and inequities that have plagued our education system since long before COVID will still be with us even after the virus is at bay,’ he said.
Cardona also talked about his uniquely American story: from growing up in a housing project in Meriden, Connecticut, to being the first member of his family with a college degree.
‘And I, being bilingual and bicultural, am as American as apple pie and rice and beans,’ he said.
‘For me, education was the great equalizer,’ he continued. ‘But for too many students, your zip code and your skin color remain the best predictor of the opportunities you’ll have in your lifetime.’
Cardona warned that public education in the country had become a ‘flor pálida: a wilted rose, neglected, in need of care.’
‘We must be the master gardeners who cultivate it, who work every day to preserve its beauty and its purpose,’ he said.
After Biden, Cardona and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris spoke, the president-elect ignored reporters’ questions as he left the Queen’s stage.
President Donald Trump shocked Washington Tuesday night by suggesting he could veto a giant spending and COVID-19 stimulus package.
Some of the asks Biden mentioned Wednesday are in the bill – including $7 billion to increase broadband access.
‘How can it be in America that a parent must drive to the parking lot of a coffee shop or library for WiFi they can’t afford at home so their children can sit in the car to participate in class or do their homework?’ Biden said.
If Trump refuses to sign the bill, or runs out the clock, Congress would have to pass it all over again, with Biden able to sign the legislation after he’s sworn-in on January 20.