President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday formally announced Miguel Cardona as his nominee for education secretary.
Cardona, 45, is currently Connecticut’s education commissioner. He was born in the state to Puerto Rican parents.
The nominee, speaking at a press conference in Wilmington, Del., said it would be his priority to help address educational gaps resulting from school closings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cardona called the pandemic “stolen time from our children, who have lost something sacred and irreplaceable this year.”
He said that “we will carry its impacts for years to come.”
“It’s taken some of our most painful longstanding disparities and wrenched them open even wider,” he said.
Biden, who takes office Jan. 20, did not take questions at the event.
Saying he was “as American as apple pie and rice and beans,” Cardona noted that there was an unfortunate “normalization of failure” for minority students and an “internalized culture of low expectations.”
“For too many students, your zip code and your skin color remain the best predictor of the opportunities you’ll have in your lifetime,” he said.
If confirmed by the Senate, Cardona would replace President Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is best known for her support for vouchers to allow parents to move their children out of failing public schools in their districts.
Biden touted his cabinet picks as diverse during the press event.
“It’s going to be a historic cabinet. Already there are more people of color in this cabinet than any cabinet in the history of the United States. There are more women than ever, the first openly gay cabinet member. It’s a cabinet that looks like America, that taps into the best of America,” Biden said.