King apologizes to teachers in first speech as education secretary
- In his first major speech as acting U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. John B. King adopted a reconciliatory tone and publicly apologized to educators in Philadelphia, saying they had been unfairly blamed for the nation's educational challenges.
- King also admitted that some of the harsh criticism had come from the U.S. Department of Education, noting that they "have to take responsibility for the climate that exists."
- Thus far, King appears to be listening to teachers, with USA Today reporting that American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten has been "surprised and pleased."
King seems to be positioning himself as more of a diplomat thus far — a move that might distance him from his mentor and predecessor Arne Duncan, who was known for straight-talking and being honest to a fault when expressing opinions. Duncan, who spoke to Education Dive last month, said his advice to King in taking on the role was to focus on just a few targeted issues and to move expediently.
Still, two of the issues that King has championed may be divisive. He's called for greater equity in schools, and has expressed interest in states abandoning any teacher evaluation metrics that don't help the educators themselves improve. He's also encouraged states to be aggressive when it comes to poor-performing schools. Other challenges include squabbles over whether King needs to be formally nominated, the future of Common Core, and pre-K expansion.