Washington — President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday formally introduced Miguel Cardona, the Connecticut commissioner of education, as his nominee to lead the Department of Education, a pick that underscores what the president-elect said is the need for a teacher in that role as schools prepare to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The president-elect revealed Tuesday he tapped Cardona to serve as his secretary of education, praising him as an “experienced and dedicated public school teacher” who will ensure “every student is equipped to thrive in the economy of the future,” that educators have the resources they need to do their jobs and that schools can reopen safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
“During this pandemic, we’ve seen who our educators are. They’re selfless, they’re dedicated and they’re cut from a true cloth of character and commitment,” Mr. Biden said in remarks Wednesday from Wilmington, Delaware. “They represent one of the most critical professions in America, and that’s not hyperbole, that’s a fact.”
Mr. Biden said his decision to select Cardona, a former elementary school teacher, was “easy” and stressed it is “essential” for an educator to lead the Department of Education, as he “truly understands what it’s been like for educators, administrators, families, caregivers and students” grappling with the fallout from the pandemic this year.
If confirmed by the Senate, one of Cardona’s early tasks will be assisting the president-elect with following through on his objective to reopen the majority of schools within his first 100 days in office, one ofMr. Biden has laid out in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
The nation, Mr. Biden said, needs “someone who knows what it takes to get through this crisis. Reopening schools safely will be a national priority for the Biden-Harris administration.”
“To lead the national effort requires an education secretary with the skills to partner with educators across the country in states, localities and tribal nations and all across students and families as well,” the president-elect said. “It also requires someone who understands the need to prevent the pandemic from further exacerbating the inequities in our education system that represents a compounding problem we’re having.”
In his role as Connecticut’s education commissioner, Cardona has overseen the reopening of the state’s schools while also ensuring students have the tools they need for remote learning. He was tapped as the head of Connecticut’s public school system in 2019, and started his career as an elementary school teacher before serving as a school principal for a decade.
Cardona lamented Wednesday that the pandemic “has stolen time from our children, who have lost something sacred and irreplaceable this year despite the heroic efforts of so many of our nation’s educators.”
“There are no shortages of challenges ahead, no shortages of problems to solve,” he said. “But by the same token, there are countless opportunities for us to seize.”
The president-elect has continued to fill key roles in his administration, announcingand White House advisers.