The Senate on Monday confirmed Miguel Cardona to lead the U.S. Department of Education in a 64-33 vote.
Cardona, a longtime educator from Connecticut, will be tasked with helping schools reopen during the pandemic and leading the $68 billion agency.
“Teachers, students, and parents across the Silver State have endured an incredibly challenging year,” Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said in a statement after voting for Cardona’s confirmation. “As a former teacher, principal, and administrator, Secretary Cardona understands these challenges and is well-equipped to lead the Department of Education as it seeks to help our nation’s young people recover from the coronavirus pandemic and build better a better future.”
Cardona “knows what it is like to be an English-language learner in the public school system,” Cortez Masto said.
Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen, in her statement after voting to confirm Cardona, anticipated the Department of Education working toward “forward-thinking education policies that support our students and teachers as we overcome the challenges that COVID-19 has brought.”
Cardona currently serves as the commissioner of education for Connecticut. Before that, he worked as a fourth-grade elementary school teacher and later principal in his hometown of Meriden, Conn.
The White House has not yet scheduled his swearing-in ceremony.
During his confirmation hearing, Cardona said that teachers should be considered as front-line workers for the vaccine as the Biden administration works to reopen K-8 schools within its first 100 days. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in early February released guidance to provide educators with a science-based plan for reopening K-12 schools.
Cardona also raised concerns about low rates of enrollment for higher education at universities and community colleges. He said that the department will also have to address many long-standing disparities in education that the pandemic has exacerbated.
Some of the senators who voted against his nomination had expressed dismay over Cardona’s comments on how he would handle the civil rights of transgender students. During his confirmation hearing, Sen. Roger Marshall, Republican of Kansas, asked Cardona if he would prevent transgender girls from competing on girls sports teams.
Cardona said that discrimination based on gender is illegal, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year.