In exit interview, King urges his successor to 'protect kids'
- In an exit interview with NPR, Secretary of Education John King Jr., discussed his thoughts on the future of the U.S. Department of Education in the Trump administration and shared advice for his successor.
- King says the next secretary of education needs to focus on two things — that the Department of Education is a civil rights agency with a responsibility to protect children, and that education is fundamental to the nation’s economic and democratic success in the long-term.
- While race and class became dividing lines in the election, King said he believes there is a general understanding that the nation cannot continue making progress by leaving students — including those of color and English learners — behind, and he deemed vouchers unscalable solutions to the country’s education challenges, saying alternatives to district schools need to have strong accountability systems in place to ensure positive outcomes for kids.
King did not have long as secretary of education, taking over with just a year left of the Obama administration’s tenure, but he cemented a strong civil rights legacy that emphasized equity for all students. While it was his predecessor, Arne Duncan, who led the department during the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it was King at the helm when the department issued regulations fleshing out its details.
The Trump administration could come in and change some of those regulations — including some of the most controversial ones, like how districts should prove they are not using federal dollars to replace local ones in high-poverty schools. But the return of power to the states that the Every Student Succeeds Act created will certainly stick. The Trump administration’s Department of Education will necessarily be weaker than the one under Obama. Still, it, too, will have a hand in shaping public education for the next generation.
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