Will Miguel Cardona replace Betsy DeVos as education secretary? Joe Biden may depend on him to handle school reopening

Cardona is an American educator and has served as the Connecticut Commissioner of education since 2019


                            Will Miguel Cardona replace Betsy DeVos as education secretary? Joe Biden may depend on him to handle school reopening
Miguel Cardona and Betsy DeVos (Getty Images)

As the resignations of President Donald Trump's staffers continue to trickle in following the Capitol riots, US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos joined the list as she sent in her resignation effective Friday, January 8. With this, Miguel Cardona, Joe Biden's Education Secretary pick becomes the prime candidate to succeed DeVos. Cardona is an American educator and has served as the Connecticut Commissioner of education since 2019.

Starting off his career as a fourth-grade teacher at the Israel Putnam Elementary School, Cardona climbed the rungs steadily as he became the youngest principal in the state for Hanover school at the age of 27 in 2003. The years 2015-19 saw him essay the role of Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning in his hometown of Meriden, Connecticut. One of the highlights in his career was his relentless focus on making sure the gaps were closed between English learners and their peers.

Cardona was appointed as the Commissioner of Education in 2019 becoming the first Latino to take the position. Cardona's name was doing the rounds for the last two weeks as Biden's nominee for Education Secretary. According to Edweek, Cardona was one of the few who encouraged schools to be kept open for in-person learning. While announcing his nomination, Biden had said: “In this critical moment in our nation’s history, it’s essential that there is an educator serving as Secretary of Education." Of Cardona, he added, “He’s brilliant, he’s qualified and he’s tested. Dr. Cardona is ready on day one.” 

Cardona's professional experience working in the public school system is being lauded— a contrast with outgoing Secretary of Education, whose history of philanthropy and advocacy promoting initiatives that provide public funding for education outside of the traditional public-school system made her nomination one of the most controversial in history. 

One of Biden’s top three Covid-19 priorities once he enters office is to “reopen the majority of schools.”Cardona will be tackling an education system feeling the pressures of the pandemic. Cardona’s past experience could provide an insight into how he’ll approach the challenges facing elementary and secondary education. He has stressed the need for schools in Connecticut to be persistent as they face the challenge during the pandemic. In fact, Cardona's approach resounds with that of Biden to push for relief funding and increase the level of testing and guidance at schools to reduce the risk of Covid-19. Should he succeed DeVos as the Education Secretary, the immediate need of the hour would be to take into account school's official requests for staying flexible on assessments and accountability. 

Although Cardona has repeatedly said he believes Connecticut's K-12 schools should reopen, he has never ordered superintendents to hold in-person classes. Instead, his department has issued a plethora of guidance for district leaders to follow so they can open their doors and used federal pandemic aid to buy masks, plexiglass, and other protective equipment schools need to open safely. The administration has also allocated federal funds to purchase laptops and internet access so that every student has the ability to learn from home.

As far as DeVos's retirement goes, she was one of Trump's solid allies, but in her resignation, she termed the riots as unconscionable. "We should be highlighting and celebrating your Administration's many accomplishments on behalf of the American people. Instead, we are left to clean up the mess caused by violent protestors overrunning the US Capitol in an attempt to undermine the people's business," she wrote. 

DeVos also added: "There is no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me." The news of her resignation prompted a tweet by Senator Elizabeth Warren who called her resignation "good riddance". 

"Betsy DeVos has never done her job to help America’s students. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that she’d rather quit than do her job to help invoke the 25th Amendment. Good riddance, Betsy. You were the worst Secretary of Education ever," the tweet read.



 

Only time will tell if Cardona will replace DeVos. 

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