Arne Duncan is now history, having finally stepped down at the end of 2015–with some saying none too soon. Meanwhile, his replacement is one John B. King, Jr. whom Obama described as “an exceptionally talented educator.” Among his credits:

  • Founded the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School (just outside of Boston) in 1999
  • Opened several charter schools in New York City as managing director of the nonprofit charter management organization Uncommon Schools
  • Served as commissioner of New York state public schools from 2011 to 2014.
  • Served as Arne Duncan’s deputy education secretary–his second in command–in 2015.

And now he’s taking over the department, and as he does, you should also know that he earned the reputation as being “one of the most polarizing figures in K-12 education,” and apparently intends to pick up where Duncan left off. As he says, “It’s an incredible agenda, and I’m proud to be able to carry it forward.”

And as Politico’s Caitlin Emma reported, he has three major priorities for 2016:

  1. Build on the administration’s focus on “equity and excellence” and maintain the civil rights legacy of the Elementary & Secondary Act of 1965 and No Child Left Behind.
  2. Elevate the teaching profession and improve teacher preparation, saying, “We’ve just got to make sure that preparation for teaching is as strong as possible…”
  3. Focus on college completion, supporting students’ efforts to stay the course and “scale up” support services at our institutions of higher learning.

And so even as King takes charge of the U.S. Department of Education, he remains a controversial figure who, in the past, like Duncan, has battled teacher unions. Indeed, in 2014, the New York state teachers union called for his resignation.

SaidAFT President Randi Weingarten, “We are disappointed to hear that Deputy Secretary of Education, John B. King, Jr., will be appointed as the acting secretary.”

Your thoughts?