Friday, September 17, 2021

(John) King of the (Capitol) Hill


The Senate confirmed John B King Jr’s nomination by President Obama today as education secretary, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

John B King Jr (US Education Department photo)

He has been serving as the acting education secretary since Arne Duncan left the post in December. Prior to that, he was named one of Mr Duncan’s senior advisers earlier in the year after serving as the education commissioner of New York State. The Senate vote, coming just after 5:30 this afternoon, was 49 to 40 in favor of Mr King’s confirmation.

President Obama said Mr King “will continue to lead our efforts to work toward high-quality preschool for all, prepare our kids for college and a career, make college more affordable, and protect Americans from the burdens of student debt,” NBC News reported. “John knows how education can transform a child’s future. He’s seen it in his own life. And his experience, counsel, and leadership couldn’t be more valuable to me and to our country as we work to open the doors of opportunity to all of America’s children.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massaachusetts, expressed concern after Mr King’s hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, that the federal education department is too soft in its handling of corrupt for-profit colleges and of college loan servicers who mess up interest rates for veterans and students now serving in the military. She must have received some good answers from Mr King, because she voted Yea today.

Mr King has been on Capitol Hill about other matters as well in recent weeks. Senators Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee and chair of the HELP committee, and James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, took him to the mat during an appropriations hearing about how the Office for Civil Rights within the department has dealt with campus sexual assault.

Today, though, Mr Alexander voted Yea, saying, according to an article in US News & World Report, “We need an education secretary confirmed by and accountable to the United States Senate so that the law that 85 of us voted for to fix No Child Left Behind is implemented the way we wrote it.”

The new education secretary has been outspoken in his support of charter schools and high-stakes testing. Diane Ravitch’s Network for Public Education encouraged a No vote on his confirmation and asked members to email their senators to advise the same. Carol Burris, the former New York principal who now leads the NEP, wrote in an email sent to members:

John B. King’s strong support for Race to the Top reforms resulted in a costly experiment riddled with problems when he led New York. King is an unapologetic proponent of the Common Core, evaluating teachers by student test scores, student data collection, and Common Core testing. He will only bring more of the same to the nation.

As we are in a presidential election year and three US senators are among the candidates for president still in the race, here’s how certain senators voted.

Bernie Sanders, Democrat of Vermont, Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, who are all on the campaign trail ahead of March 15 primary elections in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Florida, and North Carolina, stayed out of it by not voting on the confirmation.

From Illinois, Mark Kirk, a Republican up for reelection this year, didn’t vote, and Dick Durbin, a Democrat, voted Yea. From Maryland, Democrat Ben Cardin joined fellow Democrat Barbara Mikulski, who is retiring in November, in voting Yea.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent Posts

Study finds increasing suicide rates among Black girls

Why are Black adolescent girls committing suicide at increasingly higher rates in the US? Could it be an effect of racism and prejudice?

On the day front pages changed forever

800 students quarantined in Baltimore County

Band Day 2021 in Urbana-Champaign

Student reviews: Kanye West’s Donda