There’s been speculation for some time now that Connecticut’s top education official would take that roll on for our country.
Just a couple hours ago, it became official: President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Dr. Miguel Cardona to be our nation’s next education secretary.
He’s been Connecticut’s Department of Education Commissioner for more than a year now. And if he’s confirmed by the Senate, he’ll lead the nation’s public schools.
Teachers and leaders around the state who have worked with him are touting his experience in the classroom.
A product of Meriden’s public-school system, he got his start teaching fourth grade.
He later became the youngest principal in Connecticut before serving as assistant superintendent of schools in his hometown.
And most recently, he’ worked as the first Latino to hold the state’s commissioner of education position.
“We’ve had low performing schools really take off and turn around over the last decade or so and all due in part to Miquel,” said Meriden Mayr Kevin Scarpati, who matriculated to middle school just before he could have Dr. Cardona as a principal.
Scarpati praises the impact Cardona’s had in his hometown.
“The utilization of technology. Becoming a 21st-century school district. Knowing the challenges of a community like Meriden that has a demographic like Meriden,” he said. “We pride ourselves as the melting pot of Connecticut and now he’s going to bring that to the entire nation. It’s quite surreal to be honest with you.”
President-elect Biden celebrating his choice –a dedicated educator… someone who has had firsthand experience in a public school.
Reaction From Connecticut Leaders
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro issued a statement:
“Connecticut native, former public school teacher, and a proven champion for students, Miguel Cardona will be a strong partner as we work to recover from both the pandemic and the past four years under an administration that undermined public education and critical protections for students. I have seen firsthand Miguel Cardona’s ability to bridge divides, a skill that will be critical in the coming months.
“As chair of the subcommittee that determines U.S. spending on education, I am thrilled to have an ally in this fight for families that hails from Connecticut. I look forward to getting to work to accomplish our shared desire to increase school funding and provide for students at all levels.”
Personal Stories of Cardona
Anne Collin is singing Dr. Miguel Cardona’s praises
“Miguel Cardona is a person who wants the best for students and teachers.”
The music teacher got her start teaching kids in Meriden, while Cardona was working as a principal.
She remembers, “I was teaching students, I think a Christmas song in Spanish, if I remember correctly, because we had a lot of bilingual students at the school.”
She says then Principal Cardona dropped in to jam with her class.
“And he went, ‘Oh my goodness. I love this song. Are you going to be singing this song in about 5 more minutes?,’ And I said, ‘yeah sure.” He ran out to his car, went into his truck, got his drums and came back to the class and drummed with us and all the students sang,” said Collin, who is now a mucic teacher in Greenwich.
While many are applauding his work to diversify the teacher pool in our state and continue in-person learning during a pandemic, she says his passion for music strikes a chord.
“I know that somebody is going to be positioned to be a real supporter of the arts in our school which makes me so happy.”
What’s Next for Connecticut?
The governor’s office told NBC Connecticut Tuesday night that the governor will soon announce the appointment of an acting commissioner.
And, the search for a permanent replacement will begin immediately. The process is conducted by the state board of education which has to be approved by the governor.