Biden’s Latino education secretary adds to diverse Cabinet

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) -President-elect Joe Biden added to the diversity of his incoming administration on Wednesday when he introduced Miguel Cardona as his choice for U.S. Secretary of Education.

Cardona, currently the education commissioner for the state of Connecticut and a former teacher, would 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 U.S. Senate, Cardona would be charged with helping the administration get students and teachers back in the classroom after the COVID-19 pandemic forced at-home instruction in districts across the country.

Biden has already nominated Alejandro Majorkas as secretary of Homeland Security and Xavier Becerra to head the Department of Health and Human Services, both Latinos.

Biden said at an event to introduce Cardona in Wilmington that his “historic cabinet” would have more people of color than any in U.S. history, as well as the most women and the nation’s first openly gay cabinet member.

“It’s a cabinet that looks like America, taps into the best of America, and opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation,”

Cardona, a child of Puerto Rican immigrants who attended and taught at public schools in Connecticut, understands the “deep roots of inequity” in the U.S. education system, Biden said.

During the presidential campaign, Biden pledged to dramatically increase federal funding for schools and provide universal access to pre-kindergarten programs for 3 and 4-year-olds. He takes office on Jan. 20.

Biden has not chosen an attorney general, the most prominent slot he has yet to fill. Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, he said he has not settled upon a candidate, in part, because he wants to ensure he lives up to his pledge to appoint a diverse cabinet.

“So, we’re just working through it,” he said. “There’s not an obvious choice in my mind.”

Biden’s search for an attorney general has been complicated by a federal probe into the business affairs of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The elder Biden has vowed not to interfere in the investigation or discuss it with his nominee.

Some Republicans have called for the appointment of a special counsel to handle the matter.

Reporting by Simon Lewis; Writing by James Oliphant; Editing by Stephen Coates and Chizu Nomiyama

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