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Miguel Cardona, Joe Biden's Intriguing Choice for Education Secretary, Offers Promise

Chinese Empty Classroom

Will Miguel Cardona be the archangel that kids and parents desperately need right now?

President-Elect Joe Biden's choice of Connecticut Commissioner of Education, Miguel Cardona, is good news for the millions of parents and students whose fates have been so derailed by the Coronavirus this year. Had Biden picked a union leader or equivalent, it would have been akin to an act of war on the progress of the last three decades of pushing power to parents, and on those who have fought to get their kids educated this year, whether back in traditional schools or by their own hand. 
Instead, his choice of Cardona is reminiscent of President George W. Bush's choice of then-Houston Superintendent Rod Paige. Both were lesser-known, lifelong educators with a record. Paige understood that not every school is the right fit for every child — a sentiment that Cardona has expressed and will hopefully put into action fully.
Like many immigrants whose families came here for a better life, Cardona seems to be driven by hard work, respect for education, and family. That's always a good start. We hope he will also come to embrace fully the notion that such choices for a better life must extend first to the education of our youth. 
Equally encouraging: As a parent with school-age kids, he has expressed understanding about the importance of options and of communities making decisions for their own unique circumstances.
Finally, his actions during the pandemic signal that he's eager to resume in-person education safely. As Commissioner, he has pushed to reopen schools against union demands to keep them closed. While he deferred to district decisions, under his leadership the state required districts to prepare different reopening plans — virtual, in-person, and hybrid, the latter which most ultimately followed. 
All in all, it seems the President-Elect has, with this pick, carved a refreshing path for his education agenda that isn't automatically rooted in the platitudes of powerful interest groups. Parents and education opportunity advocates are welcoming Miguel Cardona with open arms — and a clear plan for him to ensure he puts the interests of their children first.

 Jeanne Allen is the founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform (CER). Founded in 1993,CER aims to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans — particularly our youth — ensuring that the conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom, and flexibility throughout U.S. education

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