Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona appeared before the Senate’s education committee on Wednesday, Feb. 3 for a confirmation hearing after being nominated to serve as the United States' Education Secretary by President Joe Biden.
Cardona, a lifelong Meriden resident, was announced as a choice to join Biden’s Cabinet as Education Secretary in late December.
If nominated, the 45-year-old Cardona will be tasked with overseeing one of Biden’s key goals for his first 100 days by re-opening the majority of the nation’s elementary and middle schools for in-person learning.
Before delivering his opening statement to the Education Committee, Cardona was introduced by Connecticut senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.
Cardona served as co-chairperson of the Connecticut Legislative Achievement Gap Task Force as well as co-chairperson of the Connecticut Birth to Grade Three Leaders Council. He also taught for four years as an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut in the Department of Educational Leadership, according to the state's website.
He was chosen over Lily Eskelsen Garcia, who was president of the National Education Association for six years, and Leslie T. Fenwick, the dean emeritus of the Howard University School of Education and an education policy professor.
“Dr. Miguel Cardona, like other cabinet nominees and appointees, he’s brilliant, he’s qualified, and he’s tested,” Biden previously said about Connecticut’s education head.
In a letter signed by 12 governors, including Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, they called on the Senate to approve Cardona’s nomination, citing his experience and time in the classroom, something Biden said was a priority in his choice to join the Cabinet.
“Dr. Miguel Cardona has worked in a classroom, has led schools and districts, and has worked for a governor,” they wrote. “We believe he is uniquely qualified to partner with governors to keep students and educators safe while pursuing the urgent need to swiftly and safely resume in-person instruction.”
According to the governors, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cardona “focused his energy on recognizing and addressing the pandemic’s emotional toll on educators, students, and their families.”
“He prioritized reopening schools in Connecticut safely, while ensuring that those students and teachers who did not return to in-person instruction nevertheless had the tools they needed to continue teaching and learning,” they said. “He well understands the systemic obstacles that create inequities for students.
“He has redoubled his career-long efforts to tear down walls that separate those students from a high-quality education.”
Cardona appears to have bipartisan support for his nomination, with Sen. Richard Burr, the ranking member of the Senate HELP committee, showing support during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
“I expect by the end of this hearing, I'll be able to support your nomination,” Burr said during opening remarks at the hearing. “And I will encourage all of my colleagues on my side to support you as well, and to move expeditiously to have you sworn in as the next Secretary of Education. I look forward to working with you.”
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