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When appointed, Dr. Miguel Cardona would be the second Latino to serve as US Secretary of Education.

Dr. Miguel Cardona will be replacing Betsy DeVos as the new US Secretary of Education when President-elect Joe Biden takes office in 2021. Biden has yet to make the appointment official. However, three sources close to the Biden team confirmed the appointment, according to the Associated Press. Cardona is currently the Connecticut Commissioner of Education. 

In the past couple of days, Cardona became a clear frontrunner for the cabinet position. On Dec. 18, the Hispanic Caucus, who have been encouraging the Biden transition team to appoint Latinos to high-ranking cabinet positions, sent a letter recommending Cardona for the education post. 

The Hispanic Caucus also supported other candidates for that position, including Lily Eskelsen, president of the National Education Association for six years. According to CNN, other female choices included Leslie Fenwick, the dean emeritus of the Howard University School of Education and an education policy professor, and Sharon Contreras, the Guilford County, North Carolina school superintendent. 

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When appointed, Cardona would be the second Latino in charge of the Education Department. The First was Lauro Cavazos who held that position from August 1988 to December 1990 during the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations.

From the Housing Projects to Becoming a Trailblazer

As the current Connecticut Commissioner of Education, Cardona is the state’s first Latino education commissioner. But his career in education began long before that. 

The 45-year-old Puerto Rican husband and father of two, was raised in a housing project in Meriden, Connecticut, and started his education as a Spanish-speaking student. According to the Associated Press, Cardona went through the city’s public schools before returning to work as a fourth-grade teacher in the district in 1998. By the time he was 28, he was already a principal. 

His educational career also includes serving as assistant superintendent and then as an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut. 

Through that extensive vocation, Cardona always maintained close ties with his family and his Latino culture. 

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In an interview with WTNH, Cardona spoke about his Latinidad and how his family is the reason for his success. 

“It’s a huge source of pride, not just for me being the commissioner, but the journey of my parents and my grandparents,” Cardona told the news station. “If you were to look on my desk now you would see pictures of my grandparents who sacrificed a lot more than me so that I could be the commissioner of education in Connecticut.”

How Will He Address Education and the Pandemic?

Cardona has been a strong advocate of reopening schools. Last month, as COVID cases continued to rise across the country, he said in a joint statement that schools shouldn’t close for a long period of time. 

“We will continue to consult with and work with school districts, local health departments, and medical advisors on individual decisions around closures, but are not recommending that districts proactively close for a prolonged period of time in anticipation of changes in disease prevalence,” the letter stated.