Monday, January 11, 2016

We Have A New Education Secretary. Here's Why It Matters. | ThinkProgress

We Have A New Education Secretary. Here's Why It Matters. | ThinkProgress:

We Have A New Education Secretary. Here’s Why It Matters.

It was a surprise to those working in education policy when Arne Duncan, who has served as the education secretary since the beginning of the Obama administration, announced he would step down by the end of last year. Now, with only one year to go until a new administration takes over, John King — who previously served as acting deputy secretary — is stepping in as acting education secretary.
King only served in the role of acting deputy secretary for one year, which doesn’t leave a very long track record from which to understand his point of view on federal education policy. However, some of his recent remarks, as well as his time as New York education commissioner, which lasted a few years, and his experience co-founding the Roxbury Prep Charter School and working as the managing director of the Uncommon Schools, a nonprofit charter management operation, are fairly informative of his point of view on the issues that will shape students’ and teachers’ experiences moving forward.
Here’s where King stands on the most important education issues in the country, and what he may move forward on during his time in his new role:

Making sure all students receive a quality education

In King’s letter on goals for 2016 that the department released last week, he wrote, “Our work in 2016 must be measured by the progress we make toward educational opportunity for all … My first priority is to build on this Administration’s strong focus on equity and excellence at every level of our education system, in every school.”
King then noted the “persistent achievement gaps” that remain for students of color, students with disabilities, low-income students, and English Language Learners. When Democrats pushed for what they called the “accountability amendment” in the bipartisan rewrite of No Child Left Behind, or the Every Student Achieves Act, they advocated for federal guardrails to ensure there would be repercussions for states with wide achievement gaps between student groups. But the accountability amendment did not pass.
Now, states will continue to track these student subgroups, but will be responsible for building their own accountability systems. That worries some education advocates, who say that states have historically proven they can’t be relied upon to check inequities in their own education systems and that federal oversight is necessary to ensure all students receive a quality education.
If you read between the lines, John King’s letter indicates he will closely watch states. He writes, “As we support states in implementing this new law, we will work to create guardrails to enforce its We Have A New Education Secretary. Here's Why It Matters. | ThinkProgress: