John King, former education commissioner for the state of New York, has been tapped by President Obama to head up the Department of Education. King replaces Arne Duncan, who is resigning to go back to Chicago.
King was incredibly unpopular in New York for pushing Common Core on school districts. He even enraged the teachers’ unions, who called for his resignation. Instead, Obama is going to impose this radical on the rest of the country.
The fall of 2013 was arguably the most difficult period of King’s three-and-a-half year tenure as education commissioner in New York, where, as the state’s first black and first Latino schools chief, he led the implementation of the Common Core standards, controversial state exams aligned to the more difficult material, and teacher performance evaluations based partially on the tests.
After the Oct. 10, 2013, assembly devolved into chaos, King canceled (and subsequently rescheduled under pressure) the rest of his planned statewide tour, accusing “special interests” of co-opting the raucous crowd.
Teachers’ unions, parent groups and some state lawmakers called for King’s resignation. The state’s powerful teachers’ union later held a no-confidence vote to make official their feelings about him. A parent-led and union-boosted testing boycott movement began under his leadership, and subsequently exploded.
Throughout the public unrest and political jockeying, King remained staunchly committed to the Common Core and related reforms. With an even temper and soft, academic speaking style, he framed education reform as a civil rights issue, arguing that raising standards and holding teachers and schools accountable for students’ performance are the only ways to heal an educational system that fails so many children — particularly poor black and Latino boys.
King, 40, is a Brooklyn native who had a difficult childhood and went on to earn degrees from Harvard, Yale and Columbia universities. He later founded a national charter school chain before becoming New York’s youngest schools chief.
He left the New York State education department at the end of last year — to the undisguised delight of his critics — for a federal role. Since January, he has served as a senior adviser to U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan, who the president announced on Friday will be stepping down. King plans to serve for the remainder of the president’s second term.
I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that the president would name this polarizing radical to run the Department of Education. Viewing education through a racial lens is in keeping with the president’s worldview about the rest of the United States, so King should fit in comfortably with the rest of Obama’s cabinet.
We can expect a greater push by the federal government to impose Common Cores standards on all school districts. Resistance will not be tolerated, as parent groups and even teachers’ unions will be shunted aside in order to nationalize education.
The transformation of America continues, with our schools now in the crosshairs.