Who is Miguel Cardona?
Miguel Cardona was selected by President Joe Biden to be his Secretary of Education and he became the first Latino Secretary of Education in history when he was sworn in on March 1, 2021. He previously was the Education Commissioner of Connecticut, where he also was the first Latino Education Commissioner. He was born in Meriden, Connecticut, located halfway between the regional cities of New Haven and Hartford.
Secretary Cardona started his tenure in the most unusual of times – with many schools teaching remotely and the country in the middle of a pandemic.
As he shared, “We are in a remarkably challenging moment as we continue to battle the pandemic and begin to recover—but we have more resources than ever before to help address these challenges, including $130 billion for PreK-12 schools and $40 billion for institutions of higher education from the American Rescue Plan.”
Fun Facts About Secretary Cardona
ThinkFives thought our readers would like to know more about Secretary Cardona, the person. Here are the Top 5 Facts we think teachers should know.
Is Committed to Improving Equity in Education
Secretary Cardona has publicly stated that he is committed improving equitable access to all students. “We need our states and districts to take a hard look at their own ways of funding schools, and for those leaders to make the difficult decisions to fix broken systems that perpetuate inequities in our schools across the country,” he said.
“It is our moment to finally make education the great equalizer,” he continued, “the force that can help every student thrive, no matter their background, ZIP code, circumstance or language they speak at home.”
Began Schooling as an ELL student
Both of Miguel’s parents are from Puerto Rico and he entered school not knowing how to speak English. He grew up in a public housing project in Meriden and his ELL experience has made him a strong advocate for bilingual education and after school programs.
Started His Career as a 4th Grade Teacher
Unlike some secretaries of education, Miguel started his career in the classroom as a fourth-grade teacher. He was a popular teacher and remembers investing $450 in materials for his first class of 12 girls and eight boys. After only five years of teaching, he led Hanover Elementary School as the state’s youngest principal at age 28. What an achievement!
Wrote Dissertation on Addressing Achievement Disparities
Miguel chose as doctorate thesis a topic that was especially important to him: academic achievement disparities between ELL and non-ELL students. He identified ways by which educators and policymakers could apply “political will” that would lead to equitable outcomes for students.
Is a Musician and Still Plays Bongos
Miguel spent his childhood accompanying his father and brother on the bongo drums at community events, such as his home town’s Puerto Rican festival. He continues to perform music with his wife and two children to this day.
For more information: Edweek.org (https://www.edweek.org/policy-politics/who-is-miguel-cardona-education-secretary-pick-has-roots-in-classroom-principals-office/2021/01)
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