President-elect Joseph R. Biden on Tuesday named Miguel Cardona, Connecticut’s commissioner of education, as his pick to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education.
If confirmed, Mr. Cardona would be tasked with overseeing the federal government’s role in recommending how and when to reopen the nation’s schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Biden said Mr. Cardona will lead the way at the Department of Education to ensure “that every school is on track to reopen safely.”
“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,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden has said most schools in the U.S. could be reopened within the first 100 days of his administration with proper funding and coordination in place.
During the campaign, Mr. Biden said he planned to nominate a candidate who had public school teaching experience.
Mr. Cardona is a former elementary school teacher and school principal. He was appointed commissioner of education in August 2019.
Liberal activists are also urging the incoming administration to leverage the Higher Education Act to wipe out student loan debt for millions of affected Americans.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus recently announced support for Mr. Cardona for education secretary after previously lobbying for Mr. Biden to pick Lily Eskelsen García, a past president of the National Education Association (NEA).
Other names that had been in the mix for education secretary include Leslie Fenwick, the former dean of the Howard University School of Education, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Ms. Weingarten offered praise for Mr. Biden’s selection of Mr. Cardona on Tuesday.
“His deep respect for educators and their unions will travel with him to Washington—and that commitment to collaboration is crucial to providing the resources and social and emotional supports to safely reopen schools,” she said.