John King Jr.
|10th United States Secretary of Education|
January 1, 2016 – January 20, 2017
|Deputy||James Cole Jr. (acting)|
|Preceded by||Arne Duncan|
|Succeeded by||Betsy DeVos|
|Acting United States Deputy Secretary of Education|
January 4, 2015 – March 14, 2016
|Preceded by||James H. Shelton|
|Succeeded by||James Cole Jr. (acting)|
|New York Commissioner of Education|
June 15, 2011 – January 4, 2015
|Preceded by||David Steiner|
|Succeeded by||Elizabeth Berlin (acting)|
1975 (age 42–43)|
New York City, New York, U.S.
Harvard University (BA)|
Columbia University (MEd, EdD)
Yale University (JD)
John B. King Jr. (born 1975) is the President and CEO of The Education Trust. He served as the 10th United States Secretary of Education from 2016 to 2017. Immediately before he assumed leadership of the Department, he served as its Acting Deputy Secretary, and from 2011 to 2014 he was the New York State Education Commissioner. The former Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, was charged with implementing the No Child Left Behind Act; however, King was obliged to carry out the provisions of that law's modified successor legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act.
John B. King Jr. was born in 1975 in Flatlands, Brooklyn, to John B. King Sr., a retired public school administrator and teacher, and Adalinda King, a school guidance counselor. King Sr. had been Brooklyn's first black principal and later became New York City's executive deputy superintendent of schools. King Jr.'s parents met in graduate school, where his father was his mother's instructor. She died of a heart attack when King was eight years old. His father developed Alzheimer's and later died when King was 12. King moved to Long Island to live with his 24-year-old half brother. King later attended Phillips Andover but rebelled against its rules and was expelled in his junior year. He moved in with his uncle in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where he applied and was accepted to Harvard University.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in government at Harvard, King taught social studies and received his master's at Teachers College, Columbia University. He taught for three years, including two years at a Boston charter school. King was among the founders of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, where he served as co-director for five years and developed its curriculum and rules, such as no talking in the hallways between classes. Under King's leadership, Roxbury Prep's students attained the highest state exam scores of any urban middle school in Massachusetts, closed the racial achievement gap, and outperformed students from not only the Boston district schools but also the city's affluent suburbs. King then joined as a managing director for Uncommon Schools, an urban, public charter school organization that operates some of the highest performing urban public schools in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. In 2013 Uncommon Schools won the Broad Prize for top charter network.
King later received a Juris Doctor at Yale Law School and a Doctor of Education in educational administrative practice at Columbia. King was a 1995 Truman Scholar and received the James Madison Memorial Fellowship for secondary-level teaching of American history, American government, and social studies.
King served on the board of New Leaders for New Schools from 2005 to 2009, and is a 2008 Aspen Institute-NewSchools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellow.
New York Commissioner of Education
King was appointed Commissioner of Education of the State of New York in May, 2011, succeeding David Steiner  as Commissioner of Education and President of the University of the State of New York (USNY). USNY comprises more than 7,000 public and independent elementary and secondary schools; 270 public, independent and proprietary colleges and universities; 7,000 libraries; 900 museums; 25 public broadcasting facilities; 3,000 historical repositories; 436 proprietary schools; 52 professions encompassing more than 850,000 licensees plus 240,000 certified educators; and services for children and adults with disabilities.
As Commissioner of Education and President of USNY, Commissioner King worked with the Board of Regents to pursue an ambitious education reform agenda. New York has become a national leader in implementing Common Core standards. The state's educator engagement site, called EngageNY, has had over 100 million page views by educators throughout the state and country who want to learn more about Common Core implementation and access the state's Common Core curriculum modules and videos. Through Race to the Top funding, network teams were launched in every region of the state and in every large district to provide training and embedded support to educators around implementation of the Common Core and the resources on EngageNY. In 2013, New York became one of the first states in the country to administer exams that measure whether students are meeting Common Core standards.
In partnership with Governor Cuomo, the legislature, and the statewide teachers union, Commissioner King and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) worked to develop and implement a comprehensive new teacher and leader evaluation system, which for the first time incorporates student learning growth—bringing New York State's largest school district into compliance with state law. To support this work, Commissioner King championed the creation of the Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (STLE) grants program that funds school districts in utilizing a comprehensive approach to recruitment, development, support, retention and equitable distribution of effective teachers and school leaders. NYSED also revamped its school and district diagnostic tools and evaluations, making them more rigorous and comprehensive.
During his tenure, Commissioner King increased collaboration between P-12 schools and New York institutions of higher education, including strengthening teacher and principal preparation, raising the bar for teacher and principal certification, and creating partnerships to expand the state's P-20 data system. Under Commissioner King's leadership, NYSED also strengthened its approach to charter authorizing by launching a more rigorous Request for Proposals process for new schools and increasing accountability for existing schools.
In October 2013 King launched a listening tour across the state, in response to the State of New York’s adoption of Common Core Standards. After a forum near Poughkeepsie, where he was drowned out by the crowd, he canceled several other planned forums, then rescheduled them. King was called on to resign by several parent groups. In November 2014, the state teachers’ union called for his resignation.
In one of his last efforts as State Education Commissioner, in December 2014, King piloted a program in New York city to increase socioeconomic diversity among schools through integration—"attracting students from higher-income families to eight schools on the state’s list of low-performing 'focus' and 'priority' schools."
U.S. Department of Education
In January 2015, King became the Acting Deputy Secretary of Education (officially, the "Senior Advisor Delegated Duties of Deputy Secretary of Education"). In this position he oversaw a broad range of management, policy, and program functions.
In the fall of 2015 when Arne Duncan announced that he would resign as Secretary of Education at the end of the year, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that King would succeed Duncan as the Acting Secretary until the end of the President's term (in January 2017). At the White House press briefing discussing King's appointment, President Obama called King "the right man" to lead the Department of Education, and King replied that the President and Secretary Duncan had laid out "an ambitious agenda . . . and I’m proud to be able to carry it forward." In choosing King to succeed Arne Duncan, the Washington Post stated that President Obama was "choosing continuity" and noted that King was pushing for the adoption of teacher evaluations, Common Core Standards and student testing as the New York State Commissioner of Schools while the Obama administration was pushing for the adoption of similar reforms across the United States. Even if their education reform agendas are similar, Duncan pointed out that King's background (he has African-American and Puerto Rican heritage, and was orphaned at age 12) gave him a "set of experiences that I think will help to make him especially impactful."
On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, the successor law to the No Child Left Behind Act. In remarks at the signing ceremony, the President said, "we are going to miss Arne Duncan a lot. Fortunately . . . we also have a great replacement for Arne in Dr. John King, who is going to be doing outstanding work helping to implement this [new legislation]."
On February 2, 2016, according to Federal News Radio, members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee took King and the Department's chief information officer Danny Harris to task for systemic cybersecurity problems, and what some called a lack of accountability for past behaviors.
On March 14, 2016, King was approved to be Secretary of Education by the United States Senate after a 49-40 vote. King is the first African-American and Latino to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education. In September 2016, King traveling to six states to discuss education—visiting 11 cities and towns—for the Obama administration's final Back to School Bus tour.
King has worked to advance the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), saying that it provides for a "well-rounded education" and that he is "among those who worry that the balance has shifted too much away from subjects outside of math and English that could be the spark to a child's interest and excitement, and are actually essential to success in reading, and are critical to a child's future."
In November 2016, the U.S. Department of Education released the final ESSA accountability rules, boosting state flexibility in key areas. "The final rules give states more time and flexibility to provide every student with a high-quality, well-rounded education while ensuring that states and districts keep the focus on improving outcomes and maintaining civil rights protections for all children, particularly those who need our support the most," King said in a statement.
King has continued his efforts towards socioeconomic and racial integration by centering federal education policy on increasing student diversity and in December 2016 he announced a $12 million grant competition "that would give up to 20 school districts the opportunity to craft new roadmaps for increasing student diversity and get started on those plans. Districts could use the money to get ideas from their communities on the best ways to bolster school integration, do a data analysis of where they currently stand on integration, and more."
King has addressed school discipline directly—especially as it disproportionally affects students of color and students with disabilities—calling on states that continue to allow corporal punishment on students to cease and implement disciplinary measures that support students and reducing exclusionary disciplinary practices. King has played an integral role in coordinating inter-agency work on My Brother's Keeper including allowing as many as 12,000 prison inmates to apply for federal Pell grants to finance college classes, despite a 22-year congressional ban on providing financial aid to prisoners.
Preparing teachers to lead has been a top priority for King, allowing states to use Title II funds to aid in the development and preparation of teachers. For example states can use Title II funds to:
- Offer extra pay to teachers who teach in high needs subjects, or teach special populations, such as English-language learners.
- Address working conditions in high-needs schools, or give teachers who work in them extra time to plan and collaborate.
- Use federal teacher quality funds to support preparation programs at traditional universities, but also for alternative-preparation programs, and teacher residency programs.
- Train principals, including giving them time to learn from each other.
King has also worked to increase and support teachers of color.
In addition to improving Pre-K-12 outcomes, King has focused on college completion, noting that "far too many students start college but do not finish, with students of color and first-generation and low-income students dropping out at higher rates than their white or better-off peer." King has introduced a number of tools to increase college completion and minimize student debt.
The Education Trust
- List of African-American United States Cabinet Secretaries
- List of United States politicians with doctorates
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- "U.S. Secretary of Education Appoints Members of Equity and Excellence Commission" (Press release). Press Office of the U.S. Department of Education. February 17, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
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- DeRuy, Emily. "A New Argument for More Diverse Classrooms". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
- "Acting Education Secretary Champions Economic, Racial Integration". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
- DeRuy, Emily. "School Discipline in a Post-Obama World". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
- "Education Secretary calls on all states to abandon corporal punishment". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
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- "12,000 inmates to receive Pell grants to take college classes". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
- "Uplifting Teachers A Priority On John King's Agenda". News One. 2016-05-03. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
- Klein, Alyson. "ESSA: Education Department Releases Guidance on Teachers". Education Week - Politics K-12. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
- King, John (2016-05-15). "The invisible tax on teachers of color". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
- Jr, John B. King (2016-06-22). "Taking On the Challenge of College Completion". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
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- "New federal rules could make it easier to have student loans forgiven". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
- ""Melissa Steel King"".
- Media related to John King Jr. at Wikimedia Commons
- United States Department of Education bio
- Appearances on C-SPAN
| New York Commissioner of Education
James H. Shelton
| United States Deputy Secretary of Education
James Cole Jr.
| United States Secretary of Education