Arne Duncan is leaving as Barack Obama's Secretary of Education. Duncan's signature role was administering President Obama's Race to the Top program which forced states to adopt Common Core and the high-stakes testing of students and teachers to qualify for federal grants. He will not be missed. Duncan's highlight moment was when he accused opponents of Common Core testing of being "white suburban moms who -- all of a sudden -- their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were." Last year the National Education Association demanded Duncan resign and Congress is now considering legislation that would sharply reduce the federal role in education.
Unbelievably, President Obama found someone just as bad to replace him, Deputy Secretary of Education John King who in his previous job was New York State Education Commissioner. While King was Education Commissioner the roll out of Common Core produced so much opposition from parents and teachers that Governor Andrew Cuomo complained to state education officials that "Common Core's implementation in New York has been flawed and mismanaged from the start." Just last week more than 300 New York State school superintendents petitioned Congress this week to abolish the annual testing requirement for elementary and middle school students.
The selection of John King makes it clear that Race to the Top, Common Core, and high-stakes testing are Obama's education legacy and Duncan was only the delivery guy. According to a press release by NYS Allies for Public Education, a group that had to deal with King during his tenure in New York State, King's appointment is "bad news for the nation." In the press release Jeanette Deutermann, founder of Long Island Opt Out charged "King was notorious for his complete disconnect from parents, teachers, and school officials. His blatant disregard for concerned parents and educators fueled opt outs to historic numbers. Our only hope is that this bizarre move by the White House will have the same effect across the country, spreading the Opt Out movement to every corner of the nation."
Eric Mihelbergel, co-founder of NYSAPE added that King "helped create an educational disaster for New York and our children are still feeling the devastating effects." Lisa Rudley, a public school parent and NYSAPE activist accused King of being "relentless in pushing the inappropriate Common Core standards, flawed curriculum, defective exams, and an invalid teacher evaluation system on our schools, all of which caused more than 200,000 parents to opt out of the state exams last spring."
According to a White House spokesperson President Obama plans to keep King as acting or interim Secretary of Education to avoid Congressional hearings in the Republican controlled United States Senate. A Senate committee would examine King's competence or incompetence for the job in hearings that would inevitably lead to challenges to Common Core, Race to the Top, and high-stakes testing. It would be nice to finally have serious high-level discussion of Common Core and the testing epidemic.
OMG Barack, how could you pick John King?
Note to Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions: Demand confirmation hearings. I would love to testify. Please! Please! Please! Please! Please!