Cardona was appointed to the highest training publish in Connecticut simply months earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March. When colleges moved to distant studying, he hurried to ship greater than 100,000 laptops to college students throughout the state. Since then, nevertheless, he has more and more pressed colleges to reopen, saying it’s dangerous to maintain college students at residence.
If confirmed, his first activity will likely be to broaden that effort throughout the nation. Biden has pledged to have a majority of U.S. colleges reopened by the tip of his first 100 days in workplace. Biden is promising new federal pointers on college opening selections, and a “large-scale” Training Division effort to determine and share the most effective methods to show throughout a pandemic.
Biden’s selection of Cardona, but to be introduced, was confirmed by three folks accustomed to his resolution however not licensed to debate it publicly.
Cardona, 45, was raised in a housing mission in Meriden, Connecticut, and went via town’s public colleges earlier than returning to work as a fourth-grade trainer within the district in 1998. At age 28 he had grow to be the youngest principal within the state earlier than working his means as much as assistant superintendent of the district.
As an educator, he has devoted his work to bettering training for English-language learners and shutting achievement gaps between college students of colour and their white classmates. Each points have been perennial struggles in Connecticut, which for many years has had among the many widest achievement gaps within the nation.
Cardona’s doctoral dissertation on the College of Connecticut examined easy methods to enhance the “political will” to shut gaps between pupil who’re studying English and their friends. It’s a private challenge for Cardona, who has stated he entered kindergarten solely talking Spanish and struggled to be taught English.
He was chosen to assist lead a 2011 state activity drive that studied easy methods to shut studying gaps in Connecticut and issued dozens of suggestions. In an replace on the work in February, Cardona stated the state’s gaps have been closing however not shortly sufficient. On the present price of progress, he stated, it will take till 2060 to erase disparities.
The pandemic has solely heightened his considerations about training inequity. In a September video message to particular training academics, he stated the pandemic has “additional exacerbated gaps in achievement. You’re the lieutenants in that battle to shut these gaps.”
These considerations drove his work with Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont to supply computer systems and wi-fi web units to college students throughout the state. In December, Connecticut stated it had grow to be the primary state to distribute laptops to each pupil who wanted one.
However that isn’t sufficient, Cardona has stated. He not too long ago drew consideration to new state information exhibiting that college students who’re studying on-line have missed twice as many days of sophistication as these attending college in-person. The info additionally confirmed that college students with excessive wants, together with these studying English, are much more prone to be thought-about chronically absent this college 12 months.
Over the summer time, when colleges had been crafting plans to reopen, Cardona urged all colleges to supply in-person instruction to all college students. Current state information present that few college students realized totally in-person in October and November. However whilst virus instances climbed within the fall, Cardona pushed extra colleges to reopen, saying there was no proof of transmission in colleges.
“Our place has at all times been when you may get college students into the classroom, that’s the most suitable choice,” Cardona advised state lawmakers in October. “There isn’t any alternative for that have within the classroom with a trainer.”
His place has typically put him at odds with academics unions, which have known as for college buildings to be closed till security measures are met, and in addition with some mother and father who say colleges must be ordered to open. Cardona has sought to steadiness their pursuits by urgent for reopening with out mandating it.
Regardless of their occasional battle with him, a coalition of Connecticut training unions beforehand supported his candidacy as Biden’s training secretary. In a Dec. 18 assertion, the coalition stated Cardona has been examined by the pandemic and “could be a constructive drive for public training.”
“Whereas this problem has been a rocky street — and plenty of points stay unresolved — academics and faculty help workers have appreciated his openness and collaboration,” the group wrote.
Cardona was additionally backed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which has pressed Biden to nominate extra Latinos to Cupboard positions. In a letter to Biden this month, the group cited Cardona’s accomplishments and stated he “totally grasps the challenges that English as Second Language (ESL) Learners, Latinos, and different minority college students face in America’s school rooms.”
Past the pandemic, Biden’s training secretary may even be tasked with reversing an array of insurance policies established by Secretary Betsy DeVos. All through his marketing campaign, Biden depicted DeVos as an enemy of public colleges and vowed to put in an training chief with expertise working in public colleges.
He vowed to revoke Trump administration insurance policies together with DeVos’ current guidelines on the dealing with of campus sexual assault.
Biden’s training plans additionally embody measures that align with Cardona’s pursuits. The Democrat has pledged to triple federal Title I funding for the neediest colleges to make sure that “no youngster’s future is set by their zip code, mother and father’ earnings, race or incapacity.” Biden can be proposing free preschool and insurance policies meant to make the nation’s colleges and educating drive extra various.
In December, Connecticut stated it had grow to be the primary state requiring excessive colleges to supply programs on Black and Latino research. Cardona praised the measure, saying that “identities matter.”
“The actual fact is that extra inclusive, culturally related content material in school rooms results in better pupil engagement and higher outcomes for all,” he stated in an announcement.
Cardona and his spouse, Marissa Pérez Cardona, have two kids.
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