Mr. Biden outlined in his announcement the monumental tasks ahead of Dr. Cardona, including helping the nation “address systemic inequities, tackle the mental health crisis in our education system, give educators a well-deserved raise, ease the burden of education debt, and secure high-quality, universal pre-K for every three- and four year-old in the country.”
Dr. Cardona will also have to wrestle with factionalism within his own party on core education issues, like charter schools, teachers’ unions and standardized tests, somehow meshing his own inclinations with Mr. Biden’s promises.
Mr. Biden, for instance, raised questions about the role of charters during his presidential campaign. Dr. Cardona has been more measured. Ms. Toll said she found him to be “neither pro-charter or anti-charter,” and more concerned with individual school quality.
Ms. DeVos’s role as a political boogeyman allowed Democrats to paper over the deep differences in opinion on standardized testing, public funding of charter schools and the ability of parents to chose the schools their children attend. Union leaders and left-leaning charter organizations alike regarded Ms. DeVos as a real threat to public education.
Dr. Cardona would have to confront some of those issues shortly after confirmation, including whether to allow states to cancel standardized testing during the pandemic.
The Presidential Transition
For now, his expected nomination comes in a honeymoon period. Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, a national union, heralded Dr. Cardona’s “deep respect for educators and their unions.” Jeanne Allen, who runs the Center for Education Reform and is a frequent critic of unions, called the selection “good news.”
Dr. Cardona, 45, was appointed Connecticut’s first Latino commissioner of education in 2019 after two decades of experience as a public school educator, starting in a Meriden, Conn., elementary school classroom. He also served as a principal for a decade, among the youngest in the state, and as an assistant superintendent in Meriden. He was also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut, where he received his doctorate.