Biden's Education secretary pick acknowledges ‘ongoing crisis’ in schools


President-elect Joe Biden formally introduced Miguel Cardona as his secretary of Education nominee on Wednesday, placing the Connecticut state education official atop the incoming administration’s sweeping plans to reopen the majority of American schools in 100 days and accelerate federal spending on education.

Cardona previewed a broad agenda to address persistent achievement gaps, fill neglected construction and trade jobs, expand access to college and universal early childhood education, and boost the status of the nation’s teachers.

“For too many students, public education in America has been a ‘flor pálida’, a wilted rose neglected and in need of care,” Cardona said in his first public remarks since his nomination. “We must be the master gardeners who cultivate it, who work every day to preserve its beauty and its purpose.”

But the nominee acknowledged Covid-19 has wrenched open long-standing and painful disparities in the nation’s schools — and that those problems will persist after the pandemic fades.

“We also know that this crisis is ongoing, that we will carry its impacts for years to come, and that the problems and inequities that have plagued our educational system since long before Covid will still be with us even after the virus is gone,” Cardona said.

“So it’s our responsibility, it’s our privilege, to take this moment and to do the most American thing imaginable: To forge opportunity out of crisis, to draw on our resolve, our ingenuity and our tireless optimism as a people, and build something better than we’ve ever had before.”

Cardona’s selection fulfills Biden’s campaign promise to name an educator with public school experience to replace Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, but his nomination also allows the incoming administration to highlight a fast-rising Latino education official who noted his public school education and birth at the Yale Acres public housing complex in Meriden, Conn.

“And I, being bilingual and bicultural, am as American as apple pie and rice and beans,” Cardona said.

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