Secretary of Education apologizes to U.S. teachers
U.S. Secretary of Education John King spoke to a small group of teachers, students, and local politicians last month in Philadelphia, just weeks after being named to the post. King took the time to extend his apologies to the nation’s teachers and admitted the country’s debate over education the last few yeas has received more heat than light. He included that reformers’ have good intentions but teachers and principals have felt attacked and blamed for the challenges the nation faces.
The admission isn’t shocking. King is a former social studies teacher and middle- and high-school principal. He’s the first school principal ever to serve in the top education job.
King is pleasantly surprising teachers as he reflects on his childhood experiences positively impacted by teachers who inspired him — and he said the things teachers so desperately want to hear. King spoke his mind about how schools should aim to provide a well-rounded education, teachers should mentor chronically absent students, schools should eliminate unnecessary tests, and that poverty, violence and hunger do play a role in whether kids experience school success.
King grew up in Canarsie Brooklyn, a working-class neighborhood in New York City. His mother and father were New York City public school educators, but passed away when he was 8 and 12 respectively.
King explains that teachers saved his life and made school safe and engaging. He went on to overachieve and earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University, a master’s degree and education doctorate from Columbia University’s teachers college, and a law degree from Yale.
King also helped found Uncommon Schools, a New York-based chain of charter schools.
King’s goal is to try to squelch the false idea that schools alone can overcome hardships such as poverty, and the opposite of that — that schools are powerful when it comes to those factors.
King thinks that those ideas are both wrong. He knows schools can’t do everything but also believes that schools still have a responsibility to students academic experiences. King wants to make sure schools provide a very powerful experience in the lives of students.
What do you think of the new Secretary of Education?