Senate confirms Cardona as education secretary

March 2, 2021
The former Connecticut education commissioner wins approval by a vote of 64 to 33.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Miguel Cardona to serve as education secretary.

The Washington Post reports that Cardona's nomination moved through the chamber without any significant controversy; the vote was 64 to 33.

Cardona, 45, was born into poverty to Puerto Rican parents before becoming a public school teacher, principal, administrator and, in 2019, Connecticut’s education commissioner.

As education secretary, he will be tasked with helping to reopen schools, addressing long-standing equity gaps exacerbated by the pandemic and managing the federal government’s $1.5 trillion student loan portfolio.

He was chosen in part based on his record in pushing Connecticut schools to reopen for in-person learning. In his confirmation hearing before the Senate education panel, he said he approached the job with a spirit of cooperation

Although Cardona’s experience is almost exclusively in K-12 education, much of the Education Department’s work is focused on higher education and the federal student loan program.

Cardona will face pressure from colleges and advocacy groups to expand eligibility for emergency grant funding included in federal coronavirus rescue efforts. Under his predecessor, Betsy DeVos, the Education Department shut out undocumented and international students.

The Biden administration is reviewing the policy, according to people familiar with the issue who were not authorized to speak publicly.

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