Who is Miguel Cardona - New U.S's Secretary of Education: Profile, Career and Personal Life
|Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education. Photo: Bloomberg|
Who is Miguel Cardona?
Miguel Angel Cardona (born July 11, 1975) is an American educator who has served as the Connecticut commissioner of education since 2019. U.S. president-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Cardona to serve as United States Secretary of Education in his cabinet.
A native of Meriden, Connecticut, Cardona began his career as a fourth-grade teacher at the Putnam Elementary School. In 2003, at the age of 27, he was named principal of Hanover School, also in Meriden, making him the youngest principal in the state.
Early Life and Education of Miguel Angel Cardona
Cardona was born on July 11, 1975, in Meriden, Connecticut, to Puerto Rican parents. Cardona grew up speaking Spanish as his first language and struggled to learn English when starting kindergarten. He was raised in a housing project in Meriden and graduated from the H.C. Wilcox Technical High School, where he was a part of the automotive studies program.
Cardona earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Central Connecticut State University in 1997. He obtained a Master of Science in bilingual and bicultural education at University of Connecticut (UConn) in 2001. In 2004, he completed a professional sixth year certification at UConn where he earned a Doctor of Education in 2011. Cardona's dissertation entitled, Sharpening the Focus of Political Will to Address Achievement Disparities, studied the gaps between English-language learners and their classmates. Cardona's doctoral major advisor was Barry G. Sheckley and his associate advisor was Casey D. Cobb.
Cardona began his career as a fourth-grade teacher of Israel Putnam Elementary School in Meriden, Connecticut. In 2003, at Hanover Elementary School, he was promoted and made the youngest principal in the state's history for ten years. From 2015 to 2019, Cardona served as Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning in his home town. Cardona was also an adjunct professor of education in the University of Connecticut's Department of Educational Leadership. During his career, he has focused on closing gaps between English-language learners and their peers.
In August 2019, Governor Ned Lamont appointed Cardona as Commissioner of Education; Cardona is the first Latino to be appointed to the position.
Political Career of Miguel Angel Cardona
|Photo: Connecticut Post|
Connecticut Commissioner of Education (2019 - Present)
Cardona became the state's commissioner of education on August 7, 2019
Nomination for secretary of education
On December 22, 2020, President-elect Joe Biden (D) announced that he had selected Cardona as his nominee for secretary of education.
The Biden Transition said in a statement, "Having walked the walk as an educator, administrator, and public school parent, Dr. Cardona has a proven track record as an innovative leader who will fight for all students, and for a better, fairer, more successful education system. He will also strive to eliminate long-standing inequities and close racial and socioeconomic opportunity gaps — and expand access to community colleges, training, and public four-year colleges and universities to improve student success and grow a stronger, more prosperous, and more inclusive middle class."
The Washington Post reported, "The announcement was welcomed by congressional Democrats. There was scant response from Republicans, but a Senate GOP aide predicted that Cardona would be confirmed."
5 big questions facing Miguel Cardona
1. How will Cardona use his (limited) power to influence school reopening decisions? And what will that mean for his relationship with teachers unions?
2. Will Cardona let states cancel testing this school year?
3. What will be Cardona’s overarching strategy for improving schools, during and after COVID?
4. How will Cardona approach the school choice battles that defined prior administrations?
5. How quickly, and how exactly, will Cardona reverse some of DeVos’ moves?
Personal Life Miguel Angel Cardona
In 2002, Cardona married Marissa Pérez, a family-school liaison and former Miss Connecticut (2001). They have two children.
|Miguel with his wife (blue dress) and their two children. Photo:Record-Journal|
The state’s first Latino commissioner of education recalls being the victim of stereotyping as he was growing up.
“For Latino children from communities that are below the threshold of poverty, you know you’re not typically thinking, the data doesn’t suggest that they’re going to be the next principal of the school … or state education commissioner,” Cardona said. “There were times throughout my youth that I think people had lower expectations than they should have. It just made me hungrier.”
“It’s not lost on me, the significance of being the grandson of a tobacco farmer who came here for a better life, who despite having a second grade education was able to raise his family and create that upward mobility cycle,” he added.
Cardona said the values instilled in him — “hard work, service to others, relationships first, treating people with respect” — have helped him achieve what can only be called a meteoric rise from his first teaching job in Meriden in 1998 to his appointment last month as state education commissioner. In between those two jobs, Cardona had the distinction of being the youngest principal in the state at age 28, was named principal of the year in 2012, and served as co-chairman of the Legislative Achievement Gap Task Force.
That’s all while getting married, parenting two children and earning a doctorate at UConn’s Neag School of Education.
Those who have worked closely with Cardona describe him as a hard worker, a good listener, and a collaborator who puts children and equity first.
For more information about Biden's cabinet, please click here!
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