An Introduction to Miguel Cardona
With President Joe Biden’s promises not only to assemble the most diverse cabinet in the history of our nation, but also to appoint an education secretary with experience in the classroom, education experts across board have been pleased and optimistic about Biden’s nomination of Dr. Miguel Cardona as Secretary of Education.
Cardona’s background is primarily in K-12 education, having quickly risen through the ranks first as Connecticut’s youngest principal at 28, followed by assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, with a spate of teaching years at University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education, to his current appointment as Connecticut’s education commissioner. Yet he is known as a lifelong learner and has praised the principles of public education. “The passion I have for public education stems from my belief that it is the best lever for economic success and prosperity in Connecticut, and the belief that public education is still the great equalizer. It was for me,” Cardona said at Central Connecticut State University’s commencement in 2019. Cardona is also known for helping initiate programs in Connecticut aimed at guiding high school students into college by taking community college courses while completing high school, as well as providing mentors and guidance for students about to navigate everything from college searches to financial aid paperwork; for those that want to learn, Cardona has been determined to help show the way.
Cardona’s dedication to public education should, and hopefully will, translate to the kind of attention he will pay to higher education, in the form of accessibility and affordability for low-income students and students of color who are often at a disadvantage when accessing higher education. Part of President-Elect Biden’s platform on education was to eliminate tuition for community colleges, as well as for students at state universities and colleges whose families make under $125,000 a year, showing a commitment to removing financial burdens that higher education can impose. Whether Biden’s plans come to fruition is yet to be seen, but these plans are certainly in line with Cardona’s point of view when it comes to accessibility for low-income students. While accepting his nomination as secretary, Cardona stated, “For far too long, we’ve let college become inaccessible to too many Americans for reasons that have nothing to do with their aptitude or their aspirations, and everything to do with cost burdens, and, unfortunately, an internalized culture of low expectations.”
There is still a long way to go to ensure that every American has access to higher education; 2020 showed just how challenging that goal remains. Should Cardona be confirmed, we are hopeful that this means Americans will have a secretary who believes in cultivating access early on for students to foster not only a love of learning, but a belief in the education system that brought them up.
Update 2/1/2021 : AGB was recently signatory to a letter sent to Dr. Cardona by the American Council on Education regarding the higher education community’s priorities for the Biden administration, including additional emergency COVID-19 relief. Read ACE’s Letter.