Biden names former public school teacher Miguel Cardona for secretary of education

(Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday picked Connecticut education official Miguel Cardona for secretary of education, his transition team said, fulfilling a campaign pledge that he would nominate a teacher for the job.

Reuters earlier cited a source as saying that Cardona, Connecticut’s commissioner of education and a veteran teacher and school administrator, would be Biden’s choice to lead the department.

Biden was set to introduce Cardona, who began his career as an elementary school teacher, at an event on Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware.

Cardona, 45, would also be another Latino addition to Biden’s top team, after advocacy groups urged the former vice president to appoint Hispanic Americans to senior roles.

If confirmed by the Senate, Cardona would help ensure that every student can “get a high-quality education from pre-K to post-high school, regardless of their zip code, parents’ income, race, sexual orientation and gender identity, or disability,” Biden’s transition team said in a statement.

The department helps set education policy for younger children and universities and administers a college financial aid program.

The current education secretary, Betsy DeVos, a philanthropist and investor, has been a target of criticism from teachers unions and Democrats who question her commitment to public education.

Biden promised during his campaign against President Donald Trump to provide all 3- and 4-year-old children access to free preschool, and issued plans to boost teacher pay and reduce the funding gap between wealthy and low-income public schools.

Cardona would also work with Congress to ensure public health measures needed to “safely reopen the majority of our schools within the first 100 days of the new administration,” the statement said.

Public health experts are advising Americans to avoid gatherings to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, a message that Biden, who received the first dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 on Monday, has echoed.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Chris Reese and Peter Cooney

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