HARTFORD — Meriden’s Miguel Cardona took the oath of office Wednesday morning as Commissioner of the state Department of Education.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysewicz administered the oath to Cardona, who was surrounded by his staff, family and extended family in his new office at 450 Columbus Boulevard in Hartford. Cardona left his job as Assistant Superintendent of Meriden Public Schools to take the post.
“I am excited and happy,” he said. “There are a lot of positive emotions here today.”
Cardona, 42, is the first Hispanic to head the state office. His nomination was approved by the state Board of Education and forwarded to the General Assembly by Gov. Ned Lamont.
Cardona’s first priorities are getting to know the staff and meeting with the Board of Education to “articulate a shared vision of Connecticut that includes preparing students for success and sharing equitable outcomes of students regardless of zip codes,” he said.
Cardona spent his career in Meriden Public Schools helping to develop programs and partnerships that boost student achievement in underperforming schools. He won the 2012 National Distinguished Principal Award for the State of Connecticut and the Outstanding Administrator Award from the NEAG School
As commissioner, Cardona pledged Wednesday to remove barriers between the education department and other agencies and partners to ensure “collaboration is seamless.”
Cardona also serves as co-chairperson of the state Birth to Grade Three Leaders Council and the Professional Evaluation Advisory Council to the state Board of Education and Department of Housing. He was also on the Minority Teacher Recruitment Committee for the Connecticut State Department of Education.
His qualifications appeared to fit Lamont’s campaign promises to close the state’s student achievement and income inequality gaps.
Lamont has praised Cardona for understanding the challenges faced by the state's urban areas, "which for too long have been left behind, resulting in a considerable achievement gap between our poorest and most affluent communities."
"For more than two decades, Dr. Cardona has dedicated his career to the students of Meriden, where he was himself born, raised, and educated," Lamont said."I look forward to working with him over the coming years so we can fix some of these inequities ..."
Bysewicz praised Cardona Wednesday for his career path from classroom to principal to administrator.
“I want to say how very proud we are of Commissioner Cardona,” Bysewicz said. “He has led a very large school district in Meriden. And has been teaching and mentoring new educators. The governor and I can’t think of a better person to be part of a very experienced and diverse team.”