Brooklyn Native John King Tapped to Oversee Education Department After Arne

For his part, Duncan was teary-eyed as he recalled his mother’s work running a tutoring program in inner-city Chicago, which he’s often said inspired him to go into education. While colleges and universities agreed with a few of Duncan’s policies, many felt that a few of his department’s regulations were “clumsy” and tried to impose “one-sized” solutions on a wide variety of schools, Hartle said.


Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, is one of the last two members remaining from Obama’s original Cabinet.

In a letter sent to his staff, Duncan said that his intention is to return to Chicago to be with his family.

On Friday at the White House, Duncan introduced King, who is black and Puerto Rican, as “one of those kids that probably shouldn’t be in a room like this”, according to stereotypes, referring to the low representation of minorities in leadership positions. The group urged the public to call the special White House phone line to “express their displeasure” in the naming of King to the post.

Obama announced the personnel change at the White House Friday afternoon, calling King an “exceptionally talented educator”.

Duncan’s work to increase access to early childhood education was shot down by Congress, but Connecticut has taken that torch and invested in improving preschool options for kids across the state. “He’s the right man to lead the department”. Critics blasted the department for linking federal money to state adoption of standards such as the Common Core, a controversial set of curriculum guidelines.

Andrew Rotherham, the co-founder of Bellwether Education Partners, predicted that King also could face pushback. New York was eligible for $700 million of that pot, but only if the state legislature changed its teacher evaluation and charter school laws, among other commitments. President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind back in 2002, creating a system of federal consequences for states, districts and schools whose students failed to make “adequate yearly progress” on annual tests. Duncan cast the federal testing as a civil rights issue, critical to ensuring that schools be held accountable for the success of students of all races and economic backgrounds.

“We must continue to ensure that every single American is treated equally in the eyes of the law, and this important guidance for students is another step forward in that effort”, Duncan said.

The push for standardized tests predated Duncan.


“If we actually want to stop locking folks up, if we can attract and retain great teachers in our poorest communities, that would be life transforming”, Duncan said. “They are the reason I am standing here today”, King said at the president’s news conference announcing Duncan’s resignation and King’s appointment. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who called him the administration’s best Cabinet pick. He added that they disagreed on the issue of federal versus local control of schools.

US Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he's stepping down