Biden: Cardona right pick to lead education through pandemic

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Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2017, photo, flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the Education Department in Washington. President-elect Joe Biden has chosen the education commissioner for Connecticut and a former public school teacher to serve as education secretary. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President-elect Joe Biden introduced Miguel Cardona as his pick for education secretary on Wednesday, saying Connecticut's education chief and life-long champion of public schools is the right pick to lead the department as the nation struggles to educate students safely during the pandemic.

The selection delivers on Biden’s promise to nominate someone with experience working in public education and would fulfill his goal of installing an education chief who stands in sharp contrast to President Donald Trump's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Unlike DeVos, a school choice advocate whom Biden says is an opponent of public schools, Cardona is a product of them, starting when he entered kindergarten unable to speak English.

During remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden called Cardona a “brilliant” educator who would help further his administration's commitment to re-opening schools safely.

“We can do it if we give school districts, communities and states the clear guidance and resources that aren't already in their tight budgets," Biden said, adding that addressing the issue “requires someone who understands the need to prevent the pandemic from further exacerbating the inequities in our education system.”

Early next year, Biden said he'd send to Congress a plan on next steps for the education system, including funding to keep educators employed and safely reopen schools.

In introducing Cardona, Biden noted his focus to broaden remote learning across communities in need and ensure schools in his state had appropriate safety gear.

“That's the vision, resolve and initiative that are all going to help us contain this pandemic and reopen our schools safely," Biden said. “It's a standard of care that comes from having taught in a classroom. ... He is a secretary of education for this moment.”