Dear Commons Community,
President Obama announced yesterday the resignation of his education secretary, Arne Duncan, who will be replaced by John B. King Jr., a former commissioner of education in New York State. Duncan has been controversial to say the least mainly because he used the promise of Race to the Top funding to strong-arm states to adopt his policies centering on the Common Core, standardized testing, teacher evaluation, and charter schools. While President Obama praised his service, Duncan has drawn mixed reviews as the Education Secretary. As reported in the New York Times:
“Mr. Duncan’s critics are an unusual coalition from the left and right.
I think history will show that this time period was the apex of federal authority in education,” said Michael J. Petrilli, the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning education policy group in Washington. “That’s in part because there’s a sense among members of Congress but also among people in the education field that he abused his power,” he said, referring to Mr. Duncan.
Kati Haycock, the president of the Education Trust, a left-leaning nonprofit, said Mr. Duncan’s aggressive push to introduce new tests and teacher evaluations was bound to create a backlash that would handcuff his successors. Anyone who pushed that hard, she said, “was going to be a villain no matter what.”
“There’s no question that the Department of Education’s fixation on charters and high-stakes testing has not worked,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers union, in a statement.”
John King is a Duncan acolyte and will continue all of Duncan’s policies in the year left in Obama’s presidency. As commissioner of education in New York State, Mr. King oversaw the rollout of the Common Core standards, as well as more difficult standardized tests intended to measure student progress on those standards, despite protests from parents and teachers.