John King Jr.

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John King
John B. King official portrait.jpg
10th United States Secretary of Education
In office
March 14, 2016 – January 20, 2017
Acting: January 1, 2016 – March 14, 2016
PresidentBarack Obama
DeputyJames Cole Jr. (acting)
Preceded byArne Duncan
Succeeded byBetsy DeVos
Acting United States Deputy Secretary of Education
In office
January 4, 2015 – March 14, 2016
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byJames H. Shelton
Succeeded byJames Cole Jr. (acting)
New York Commissioner of Education
In office
June 15, 2011 – January 4, 2015
Preceded byDavid Steiner
Succeeded byMaryEllen Elia
Personal details
Born1975 (age 43–44)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Melissa Steel
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Columbia University (MEd, EdD)
Yale University (JD)

John B. King Jr. (born 1975) is the President and CEO of The Education Trust.[1] He served as the 10th United States Secretary of Education from 2016 to 2017.[2] Immediately before he assumed leadership of the Department, he served as its Acting Deputy Secretary,[3][4] and from 2011 to 2014 he was the New York State Education Commissioner.[5] The former Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan,[6][7] 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.[8]

Early life[edit]

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.[9]

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in government at Harvard,[10] 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.[11][12] 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.[9] In 2013 Uncommon Schools won the Broad Prize for top charter network.[13]

King later received a Juris Doctor at Yale Law School and a Doctor of Education in educational administrative practice at Columbia.[10] 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.[10]


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.[10]

New York Commissioner of Education[edit]

King was appointed Commissioner of Education of the State of New York in May, 2011, succeeding David Steiner [9] 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.[14] 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.[15][16] 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.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19] King was called on to resign by several parent groups.[20] In November 2014, the state teachers' union called for his resignation.[21]

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."[22][23]

He appeared on the Netflix television series Chelsea in May 2016.[24]

U.S. Department of Education[edit]

King at the signing of the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act
King's video introduction as Secretary of Education

In February 2011, King was appointed by United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to serve on the U.S. Department of Education's Equity and Excellence Commission.[25]

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).[26] 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."[27] 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.[28] 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."[29]

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]."[30]

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.[31] King is the first African-American and Latino to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education.[32] 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.[32]

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."[33][34]

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.[35]

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."[36][37][38]

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.[39][40][41] 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.[42]

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.[43] For example, states can use Title II funds[44] 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.[45]

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."[46] King has introduced a number of tools to increase college completion and minimize student debt.[47][48][49]

The Education Trust[edit]

On February 2, 2017, The Education Trust announced that King would take on the role of President and CEO. He succeeds Kati Haycock, who founded the organization in the early 1990s.[1]

Personal life[edit]

King is married to Melissa Steel King, an associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners.[50] They live in Takoma Park, Maryland and have two daughters.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "John B. King Jr. to Serve as President and CEO of The Education Trust - The Education Trust". The Education Trust. Archived from the original on 2017-03-03. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
  2. ^ "John B. King Jr., Acting Secretary of Education—Biography". U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  3. ^ "NY Education Commissioner John King to Join Education Department as Senior Advisor | U.S. Department of Education". Retrieved 2015-08-31.
  4. ^ Camera, Lauren (October 5, 2015). "5 Things to Know About the New Education Secretary; Arne Duncan's replacement has gone to battle with teachers unions, and they're not happy about his promotion". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  5. ^ Taylor, Kate (10 December 2014). "New York State Education Commissioner to Leave for Federal Post". New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  6. ^ Harris, Gardiner; Rich, Motoko (2 October 2015), "Arne Duncan, Education Secretary, to Step Down in December", The New York Times, retrieved 5 January 2016
  7. ^ Skiba, Katherine (2 October 2015). "Arne Duncan stepping down, returning to Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  8. ^ Scott, Amy (4 January 2016). "What to expect from new education chief John King". Marketplace. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  9. ^ a b c Otterman, Sharon (May 16, 2011). "Charter Founder Is Named Education Commissioner". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 3, 2015. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c d "John B. King Jr., Senior Advisor Delegated Duties of Deputy Secretary of Education — Biography". United States Department of Education. October 2, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  11. ^ "A Man with a Mission". Teachers College - Columbia University. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  12. ^ Gewertz, Catherine (2009-02-04). "High School and Beyond - Education Week". Education Week. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  13. ^ Connors, Kevin. "Uncommon Schools Wins Broad Prize for Top Charter Network". Education Week - Charters & Choice. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  14. ^ Cavanagh, Sean (2015-06-10). "N.Y. 'Open' Education Effort Draws Users Nationwide - Education Week". Education Week. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  15. ^ "Support the Common Core with the right instructional materials | Kappan Common Core Writing Project". Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  16. ^ Heitin, Liana. "Where Are Teachers Getting Their Common-Core Instructional Materials?". Education Week - Curriculum Matters. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  17. ^ Joseph, Channing (June 1, 2013). "New York to Evaluate Teachers With New System". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  18. ^ "New NY Education Reform Commission Final Action Plan" (PDF).
  19. ^ Taylor, Kate (2014-12-11). "John King Jr., New York State's Education Chief, to Leave Many Policy Wars Behind". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-08-31.
  20. ^ Clukey, Keshia. "Parents statewide call for resignation of Education Commissioner". Retrieved 2015-08-31.
  21. ^ Taylor, Kate (May 26, 2015). "MaryEllen Elia Named New York State Education Commissioner". The New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  22. ^ "State offers city $10M to improve diversity at eight low-performing schools | Chalkbeat". Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  23. ^ "Will John King's last effort to desegregate New York's schools work? | Chalkbeat". Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  24. ^
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ "Arne Duncan resigns, one of last members of Obama's original cabinet". Associated Press via the New York Post. October 2, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  27. ^ "Remarks by the President, Secretary Arne Duncan, and Dr. John King in Personnel Announcement" (Press release). The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. October 2, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  28. ^ Emma, Brown; Layton, Lyndsey (October 11, 2015), "The next education secretary: Polarizing, powered by personal story", The Washington Post, retrieved October 21, 2015
  29. ^ Camera, Lauren (October 20, 2015). "What John King Has That Arne Duncan Doesn't; Incoming education secretary John King's past could make him especially effective". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  30. ^ Obama, Barack (December 10, 2015). Remarks by the President at Every Student Succeeds Act Signing Ceremony (Speech). Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  31. ^ Severns, Maggie (March 14, 2016) "Senate confirms education secretary", Politico. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  32. ^ a b Evans, Kelley D. (2016-09-29). "On 11-city tour, U.S. secretary of education talks about how education saved his life". The Undefeated. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  33. ^ Klein, Alyson. "ESSA Can Help States Offer a Well-Rounded Education, John King Says". Education Week - Politics K-12. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  34. ^ "Not just reading and math: Education Secretary to call for return to a 'well-rounded education'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  35. ^ Klein, Alyson. "Final ESSA Accountability Rules Boost State Flexibility in Key Areas". Education Week - Politics K-12. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  36. ^ Klein, Alyson. "Ed. Dept. Announces $12 Million Grant Competition to Boost Diversity". Education Week - Politics K-12. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  37. ^ DeRuy, Emily. "A New Argument for More Diverse Classrooms". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  38. ^ "Acting Education Secretary Champions Economic, Racial Integration". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  39. ^ DeRuy, Emily. "School Discipline in a Post-Obama World". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  40. ^ "Education Secretary calls on all states to abandon corporal punishment". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  41. ^ "U.S. Education Secretary to schools: Stop hitting, paddling students". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  42. ^ "12,000 inmates to receive Pell grants to take college classes". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  43. ^ "Uplifting Teachers A Priority On John King's Agenda". News One. 2016-05-03. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  44. ^ Klein, Alyson. "ESSA: Education Department Releases Guidance on Teachers". Education Week - Politics K-12. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  45. ^ King, John (2016-05-15). "The invisible tax on teachers of color". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  46. ^ 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.
  47. ^ "U.S. education chief highlights tools to reduce barriers to college during Memphis visit | Chalkbeat". Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  48. ^ "U.S. education secretary talks college completion at Georgia..." myajc. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  49. ^ "New federal rules could make it easier to have student loans forgiven". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  50. ^ ""Melissa Steel King"".

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
David Steiner
New York Commissioner of Education
Succeeded by
MaryEllen Elia
Political offices
Preceded by
James H. Shelton
United States Deputy Secretary of Education

Succeeded by
James Cole Jr.
Preceded by
Arne Duncan
United States Secretary of Education
Succeeded by
Betsy DeVos