President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Excelling Post Term in D.C.

Getty President Barack Obama laughs with his wife Michelle Obama and Barbara Bush during the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center April 25, 2013.

John B. King Jr. epitomizes the American dream. Brooklyn born and bred, King was an orphan by age 12. His mom died of a heart attack when King was 8 and his dad died from Alzheimer’s disease.

But his love for learning was what he found his comfort in learning. A product of the New York City public school system, King comoleted his undergraduate work at Harvard University. After Harvard, he completed his Masters of Education at Columbia before earning his JD at Yale.

John B. King Jr. is currently the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students.

Before his current position, King was tapped as the secretary of education in 2016, under former U.S. President Barack Obama. During President Obama’s time in office, he founded the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. Amid the huge disparity in opportunity for millions of boys and young men of color (in comparison with White males, as young girls of color face similar disparities), the My Brother’s Keeper initiative was created to assist leading businesses into taking steps to tailor their diversity and talent strategy of hiring male POC.

My Brother’s Keeper Alliance was activated in February 2014 following the death of Trayvon Martin. By 2020, the majority of Americans under the age of 18 will be persons of color. The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance helps boys and young men of color by supporting program interventions and targeting six key life milestones that include entering school ready to learn (Early Childhood), Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade (Middle Childhood), graduating from high school ready for college and career (Adolescence), completing post-secondary education or training (Adulthood Transition), successfully entering the Workforce (Adulthood) and reducing violence and providing a second chance (Throughout Life).

Having covered the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance since its inception and announcement at Lehman College in 2014, I got a bit curious in a recent interview with King. As an educated African American, I hold dear to my heart that the Every Student Succeeds Act replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. As an experienced educator, King broke down to me how that changes the outlook on students who were under the No Child Left Behind Act during the Bush Administration.

“The good thing about the new law is that it gives states and districts a chance to broaden the definition of an excellent education so yes of course students need strong skills in English and math,” John B. King told me on Scoop B Radio.

“But there’s an opportunity to think about science, social studies and excellence in the arts social and emotional development a much broader vision. At the same time were going to make sure implementation of the law protects student’s civil rights and the focus on equity. You know we still have big achievement gaps for African American and Latino students, low income students and English learners. So we have a lot of work to do and we have to make sure that states use their new flexibility and service of equity and better outcomes for students who haven’t had the opportunity to shift.”

By 2020, the majority of Americans under the age of 18 will be persons of color. The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance will help boys and young men of color by supporting program interventions and targeting six key life milestones that include entering school ready to learn (Early Childhood), Reading at Grade Level by Third Grade (Middle Childhood), graduating from high school ready for college and career (Adolescence), completing post-secondary education or training (Adulthood Transition), successfully entering the Workforce (Adulthood) and reducing violence and providing a second chance (Throughout Life).