U.S. Education Secretary to step down

Arne Duncan, U.S. Education Secretary plans to leave his position by the end of this year, according to emails he sent, and two administration officials.

The Washington Post reports that an anonymous White House official confirmed that President Obama will announce that Duncan plans to leave his position in December. The source also said that the president has selected John B. King Jr., the current deputy Secretary of Education. The official chose to remain anonymous until the announcement.

King served as a charter school leader in Boston and New York before joining the Education Department in January, following a rocky time as commissioner of education in New York. He was a key figure in implementing new teacher evaluations based on test scores, and pushed for tests that catered to Common Core State Standards, years before other states followed suit.

The changes caused some outrage in the community, despite Duncan and Obama’s backing. Parents  and teachers called for his removal as test scores fell.

Duncan has served one of the longest terms for education secretaries, making him one of the most influential. In his time as secretary, Duncan bypassed Congress to get states to adopt new changes, that no previous secretaries attempted, from teacher evaluations, and more rigorous academic standards.

The Secretary attempted to bridge gaps, in regards to improving education in public schools. He worked between conflicting views on competition, accountability, and heavier investments in schools that have large populations of students from low income families.

Duncan did this by promoting the Common Core State Standards, a set of benchmarks in math and reading. The benchmarks hold teachers accountable for individual student progress, as measured by test scores. The secretary also pushed to send more low-income children to preschool and pushed for investment in health care and family services.

 

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