Arne Duncan to step down as ed. sec., John King to head up department
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who pushed through an unprecedented level of change in K-12 education in his nearly seven years in office, has announced that he’s stepping down in December.
John King, who is currently filling the duties of the deputy secretary of education, will head up the department as acting secretary until the end of the Obama administration.
The news comes as Congress wrestles with a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Both a bipartisan Senate education committee bill and a Republican-backed House bill would take aim at the administration’s most-cherished priorities, including teacher evaluation through student outcomes, college- and career-ready standards, and aggressive school turnarounds.
The rapid pace of change that Duncan and his team initiated on the nation’s schools — especially through its Race to the Top competition and waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act, the current version of ESEA — has led to massive blowback from everyone from teachers to state chiefs and the administration’s own Democratic allies in Congress.
Duncan — the former Chicago schools chief — is one of just two original Obama cabinet members left. And he started out in the job in an enviable position.
He had the backing of both national teachers’ unions and the most knowledgeable Republican in Congress on education issues — Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., called him the administration’s best cabinet pick.