Connecticut's Top Educator Rose To Prominence In Short Time And Is Expected To Be Quickly Confirmed By SenateBy Tony Aiello

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — President-elect Joe Biden has chosen an educator from Connecticut to serve in his cabinet as secretary of education.

Ten years ago, Miguel Cardona was a grade school principal at a school with 450 students in Meriden, near New Haven. It is expected that soon the 45-year-old will oversee 57 million students across the U.S., CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Wednesday.

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With only 16 months under his belt as Connecticut’s education commissioner, Dr. Cardona has been asked to become the top educator in the country.

“Because of him, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to ensure that every single public school student was equipped to engage in remote learning,” Biden said.

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Cardona’s first job will be to lead America’s schools into a post-coronavirus pandemic world.

“To do the most American thing imaginable, to forge opportunity out of crisis, to draw on our resolve, our ingenuity and our tireless optimism as a people and build something better than we’ve ever had before,” Cardona said.

Cardona was just 27 when he became a school principal in Meriden. Then in 2013, he became an assistant superintendent. Gov. Ned Lamont then made him state commissioner in 2019.

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Former co-workers say Cardona is passionate about student achievement and has a personal touch that really shines, including one holiday tradition.

“They would do a big thing for the ‘Polar Express’ and so Miguel would dress up as the conductor and go to all the classes and punch their tickets. The kids, their eyes in amazement, he would just do it,” Jennifer Kelly said.

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Cardona’s parents were born in Puerto Rico. His father is a longtime Meriden police officer.

Cardona’s wife, Marissa, represented Connecticut in the 2001 Miss America Pageant.

He’s part of a rising generation of Latino educators moving into positions of power, Aiello reported.

“And I, being bilingual and bicultural, am as American as apple pie, and rice and beans,” Cardona added.

His nomination is not expected to find much opposition when it goes to the Senate for confirmation.

Gov. Lamont said Connecticut’s loss is the country’s gain, adding the search for Cardona’s successor will begin immediately.

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Tony Aiello