Orphaned at the age of 12, John King “was fortunate that I had teachers and mentors who kept my life on the right path,” the outgoing Education secretary tells NPR’s Cory Turner. “Schools and educational opportunities can save lives.”
His likely successor, Betsy DeVos, is a billionaire philanthropist educated in private schools. Like King, she helped found a public charter school, but that’s about the only parallel.
“What matters is beliefs and actions,” not “biography,” King says in the interview.
The new Education secretary should realize that “the department is a civil rights agency with a responsibility to protect the civil rights of students and to ensure that school is a safe and supportive place for all kids,” he says.
He starts with expanding access to preschool,” then “touts record high-school graduation rates, a reduction in what the administration dubbed ‘dropout factories,’ and the expansion of technology (as a tool for creating individualized learning plans) in classrooms.”
He lauds the fact that it has become easier to apply for federal financial aid to pay for college, and the development of a college “scorecard” to help students evaluate which colleges might be a good fit.
The bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act, a revision of the main federal education law, “has a strong focus on underserved students,” King stresses. All students need “a quality education that prepares them for college and careers.”