Connecticut Education Commissioner
Puerto Rican who was born in public housing in Meriden — the son of a retired police officer, the first in his family to go to college, the father of two public high school students, and the bongo player in the holiday parranda.
Cardona, 45, spent the first five years of his career teaching elementary students in Meriden before becoming principal for the next 10 at another high-needs elementary school in the district.
His doctoral dissertation in 2011 for the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education is titled “Sharpening the Focus of Political Will to Address Achievement Disparities” — reveals his frustration with the “patterns of complacency” for English learners who have led to “institutional predeterminations.” He complained of limited opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities and access to reading materials in Spanish.
An advocate for reopening schools, Cardona has so far resisted calls from parents to order superintendents to hold in-person classes and from teachers’ unions to order schools closed.
Instead, his agency has issued a plethora of guidance to help district leaders open, used federal pandemic aid to buy masks, plexiglass, laptops and internet access so that every student has the ability to learn from home.
He’s also used the public spotlight to call out the “education emergency” school closures are causing, releasing data that shows the state’s most disadvantaged students are missing twice as much remote school as their peers attending in-person. The administration has also tracked COVID-19 cases in districts throughout the state, which Cardona regularly points to as proof that the virus is not spreading in schools.
Roughly one-third of Connecticut’s public school students currently have the ability to attend school in person full-time.
“Although the governor has yet to make his appointments to the board, having an education commissioner [Cardona] with a history of working with the Dalio Foundation could allow the board overseeing the $300 million investment to exert influence over Connecticut’s education department with little transparency, according to Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-Branford.”
Devon Dalio, the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund and Dalio Foundation board member, died in a car crash Thursday (the same day Cardona was announced as a candidate for Secretary of Education). His car crossed a parking strip, hit a curb, crashed into the Verizon store and then the car burst into flames.
Keywords: Connecticut, Joe Biden, Departmetn of Education