WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday introduced his nominee to be secretary of education, Miguel Cardona, praising the former educator as "brilliant, qualified" and "tested," who will be ready to oversee the re-opening of the nation's public schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Like the rest of the team, he’s ready on day one," Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware.
During his campaign, Biden said he would choose someone who taught in public schools for education secretary. Cardona began his career as an elementary school teacher in Connecticut and then served as a school principal for 10 years. He currently is the Connecticut commissioner of education.
"He understands the transformative power of investing in public education," Biden said.
If he's confirmed by the Senate, Cardona would oversee getting the majority of the nation’s students back into schools — something Biden has pledged to do within his first 100 days. Many schools have continued to conduct classes virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic and due to the objection of teacher unions, who have argued its unsafe to return to the classroom.
That new reality has upended the routines of children, parents, teachers, and millions of others whose careers and lives rely schools as a safe space for their children for most of the week. In addition, to the logistical difficulties and added stress on families the virtual school year has presented, experts have also expressed varying levels of concern about the impact it have on the social, emotional and educational development of many children, with minorities and low-income children being the most affected.
Cardona, who is Puerto Rican, would further diversify Biden’s Cabinet, which the president-elected highlighted during his remarks.
"There are already more people of color in this cabinet than any cabinet in the history of the United States," he said. "It’s a cabinet that looks like America and that taps into the best of America."
Cardona, during his own remarks, talked about the “living those challenges” that Covid-19 has presented public school employees and parents “alongside millions of American families.”
And he promised to tackle not only re-opening the nation’s public schools, but the “problems that have plagued our education system long before Covid” because, he added “they will still be with us long after the virus is gone.”
In other transition news:
- President Donald Trump will travel to Mar-a-Lago Wednesday afternoon for the holiday with first lady Melania Trump, but otherwise has no events on his schedule. Vice President has no public events on his schedule Wednesday.
- On Tuesday evening, Trump issued pardons to 15 people, including former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, along with Republican ex-Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York and four ex-Blackwater contractors.
- In a surprise move, Trump said in a video posted to Twitter Tuesday evening that he wants changes made to the Covid-19 relief package passed by Congress earlier this week after months of deadlocked negotiations. He said that he wants lawmakers to increase the $600 direct payments for individuals in the bill to $2,000 and $4,000 for couples.
Trump predicted in a tweet Tuesday night that Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., would be primaried in 2022 and called him "Mitch's boy." This came after Thune told reporters on Monday that any attempt to challenge the Electoral College certification "would go down like a shot dog" in the Senate.