Miguel Cardona

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Miguel Cardona
Official portrait, 2021
12th United States Secretary of Education
Assumed office
March 2, 2021
PresidentJoe Biden
DeputyCindy Marten
Preceded byBetsy DeVos
Commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Education
In office
August 8, 2019 – March 1, 2021
GovernorNed Lamont
Preceded byDianna Wentzell
Succeeded byCharlene Russell-Tucker
Personal details
Miguel Angel Cardona

(1975-07-11) July 11, 1975 (age 48)
Meriden, Connecticut, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Marissa Pérez
(m. 2002)
EducationCentral Connecticut State University (BS)
University of Connecticut (MS, SYC, EdD)

Miguel Angel Cardona (born July 11, 1975) is an American educator and is currently serving as the twelfth United States secretary of education under President Joe Biden since 2021. A member of the Democratic Party, he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 64–33 on March 1, 2021.[1] Cardona previously served as commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Education from 2019 to 2021.

A native of Meriden, Connecticut, Cardona began his career as a fourth-grade teacher at Israel Putnam Elementary School in Meriden. In 2003, at the age of twenty-seven, he was named principal of Meriden's Hanover School, making him the youngest principal in the state.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Cardona was born on July 11, 1975, in Meriden, Connecticut, to Puerto Rican parents.[4][5] Cardona grew up speaking Spanish as his first language and started to learn English when entering kindergarten.[6][7] His father is a retired police officer in Meriden.[8] Cardona was raised in a housing project in Meriden and graduated from the H.C. Wilcox Technical High School, where he was a part of the automotive studies program.[9][10][11]

Cardona earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Central Connecticut State University in 1997. He obtained a master of science in bilingual and bicultural education at University of Connecticut (UConn) in 2001. In 2004, he completed a professional sixth year certification at UConn where he earned a doctor of education in 2011.[12][13]

Cardona's dissertation, titled Sharpening the Focus of Political Will to Address Achievement Disparities, studied the gaps between English-language learners and their classmates.[13][6] His doctoral major advisor was Barry G. Sheckley and his associate advisor was Casey D. Cobb.[13]


Cardona began his career as a fourth-grade teacher at Israel Putnam Elementary School in Meriden, Connecticut. In 2003, at Hanover Elementary School, he was promoted and made the youngest principal in the state's history for ten years. From 2015 to 2019, Cardona served as assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in his home town.[14][15]

Cardona was also an adjunct professor of education in the University of Connecticut's Department of Educational Leadership.[16] During his career, he has focused on closing gaps between English-language learners and their peers.[6]

In August 2019, Governor Ned Lamont appointed Cardona as commissioner of education; Cardona was the first Latino to hold the position.[12][11] During his tenure, Cardona helped oversee state schools' response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where he expressed concerns over the long-term mental health impacts of remote education on students.[8]

Secretary of Education[edit]


In December 2020, Cardona emerged as a candidate for United States secretary of education in Joe Biden's cabinet. Biden began to lean toward Cardona over two other "high-profile" teachers' union leaders, Lily Eskelsen García and Randi Weingarten. By choosing Cardona over the two, Biden "appeared to have sidestepped any sibling rivalry between the NEA and AFT."[17][18]

Cardona talks with reporters during a press briefing on August 5, 2021, at the White House.

Cardona was brought to the attention of Biden by Linda Darling-Hammond, the leader of the transition's education secretary search efforts, a role she also filled for Barack Obama in 2008. Darling-Hammond and Cardona had worked together on numerous projects.[11] Politico noted that "Hispanic lawmakers are stressing in particular the need for a Latina to join the administration."[19]


Cardona speaks on a panel hosted by The Atlantic on in December 2023.

Cardona appeared before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on February 3, 2021.[20] On February 25, his nomination was advanced by the Senate on a cloture vote of 66–32.[21] Cardona was confirmed on March 1, 2021 by a 64–33 vote. Cardona took his oath of office on March 1, 2021 and was ceremonially sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris on March 2, 2021.[22]

In 2021, Cardona solicited a letter from the National School Boards Association to the U.S. Department of Justice asking for federal assistance with what the letter called a "growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation."[23] The letter cited examples in several states and listed federal statutes under which assistance could be provided, including "the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism." Several Republican elected officials criticized the letter's reference to domestic terrorism and called for Cardona to resign.[24]

Throughout his tenure as Secretary of Education, Cardona has been responsible for implementing several forms of forgiveness for student loans.[25] The administration's most sweeping attempt to do so, which would have forgiven about $430 billion in student loan principles, was struck down by the Supreme Court on June 30, 2023, in Biden v. Nebraska.[26] Since the Biden v. Nebraska decision, Cardona has announced a series of smaller and more targeted student loan forgiveness programs, and the Department of Education has reemphasized the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to reduce the student debt of people working full-time in public service.[27][28][29] In December 2023, Cardona announced that the administration had forgiven about $132 billion of student debt in its first three years.[30]

Personal life[edit]

In 2002, Cardona married Marissa Pérez, a family-school liaison.[31] Pérez was named Miss Connecticut in 2001 and Miss Connecticut Teen USA in 1996.[32][31] Cardona and his wife have two children: a son, Miguel, Jr., and a daughter, Celine.[12] Cardona is Catholic.[33]


  1. ^ "On the Nomination (Confirmation: Miguel A. Cardona, of Connecticut, to be Secretary of Education)". U.S. Senate. March 1, 2021. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  2. ^ Makwana, Rachel R. (May 22, 2003). "New principal is popular pick". Record-Journal. pp. 1, 4. Retrieved December 16, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Megan, Kathleen (August 21, 2019). "The state's new education commissioner: collaborator, listener, hard worker". The Connecticut Mirror. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  4. ^ "Biden To Pick Connecticut Schools Chief Miguel Cardona As Education Secretary". NPR.org. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  5. ^ "Registered Voters in the State of Connecticut, U.S.A." connvoters.com. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Binkley, Collin; Jaffe, Alexandra; Lemire, Jonathan (December 22, 2020). "Biden picks Connecticut schools chief as education secretary". Associated Press. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  7. ^ Tough Topics with the Sec. of Education | LX News, retrieved May 27, 2023
  8. ^ a b Blair, Russell (December 22, 2020). "Who is Miguel Cardona? The Connecticut education commissioner is President-elect Joe Biden's pick for U.S. education secretary". Hartford Courant. Retrieved April 7, 2023.
  9. ^ "Biden selects CT's Miguel Cardona to lead the U.S. Department of Education". The CT Mirror. December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  10. ^ "About CSDE--Commissioner". CT.gov - Connecticut's Official State Website. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c "Connecticut's Miguel Cardona in the mix for Biden's education secretary". The CT Mirror. December 17, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c "About CSDE--Commissioner". CT.gov - Connecticut's Official State Website. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  13. ^ a b c Cardona, Miguel Angel (2011). "Sharpening the focus of political will to address achievement disparities". Doctoral Dissertations. University of Connecticut: 1–72. OCLC 1196370756.
  14. ^ "Miguel A. Cardona". www.ct.edu. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  15. ^ "Two outsiders emerge as top contenders for Biden's education secretary (Meckler, Strauss)". The Washington Post.
  16. ^ "Biden to pick Connecticut education commissioner for top schools post". POLITICO. December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  17. ^ Nichols, Hans (December 21, 2020). "Biden leaning toward Miguel Cardona for education secretary". Axios. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  18. ^ "DOMESTIC NOMINEES AND APPOINTEES". Biden-Harris transition. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  19. ^ Barrón-López, Laura (December 19, 2020). "Hispanic Caucus presses Biden to appoint Latinos to lead Education, Small Business". POLITICO. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  20. ^ "Committee hearing for Meriden resident Miguel Cardona's nomination as U.S. Secretary of Education set for Wednesday". myrecordjournal.com. January 29, 2021. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  21. ^ Manu Raju (February 25, 2021). "Senate Democrats break GOP filibuster to advance Miguel Cardona's nomination to run the Education Department". Twitter. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  22. ^ "Miguel Cardona to be sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Education". EdSource. March 2, 2021. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  23. ^ National School Boards Association (September 29, 2021). "Federal Assistance to Stop Threats and Acts of Violence Against Public Schoolchildren, Public School Board Members, and Other Public School District Officials and Educators". Document Cloud.
  24. ^ Chasmar, Jessica (January 11, 2022). "Education Secretary Cardona facing calls to resign after email shows he solicited controversial NSBA letter". Fox News.
  25. ^ Cory Turner (December 6, 2022). "Government efforts to erase student loan debt have now reached 3.6 million borrowers". NPR. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  26. ^ Liptak, Adam (June 30, 2022). "Student Loan Forgiveness Supreme Court Rules 6 to 3 Against Biden Plan". New York Times.
  27. ^ Cory Turner (December 6, 2022). "Government efforts to erase student loan debt have now reached 3.6 million borrowers". NPR. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  28. ^ Kate Lobosco (December 6, 2022). "Biden administration cancels nearly $5 billion more in student loan debt". CNN. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  29. ^ Minsky, Adam (October 28, 2023). "Check Your Email: 50,000 Borrowers Get Student Loan Forgiveness Notices, And Yes, They're Real". Forbes.
  30. ^ Cory Turner (December 6, 2022). "Government efforts to erase student loan debt have now reached 3.6 million borrowers". NPR. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  31. ^ a b Alverio, Diane (July 2, 2015). "Meriden's Dr. Miguel Cardona: From Student To Administrator". CT Latino News. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  32. ^ "Perez–Cardona". Record-Journal. May 19, 2002. p. 17. Retrieved December 22, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  33. ^ "Miguel Cardona: Biden's pick for Education is a teacher – and unifier". Christian Science Monitor. March 1, 2021. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved October 8, 2022.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Dianna Wentzell
Education Commissioner of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Charlene Russell-Tucker
Preceded by United States Secretary of Education
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Secretary of Energy Order of precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Education
Succeeded byas Secretary of Veterans Affairs
U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded byas Secretary of Energy 15th in line
as Secretary of Education
Succeeded byas Secretary of Veterans Affairs