News & Politics

5 Things to Know About John B. King

He'll act as secretary of education now that Arne Duncan has stepped down.

Image of King from a 2015 video.

Deputy Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., will replace Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who resigned Friday. Here’s some of what we know about King, a native of Brooklyn:

• In 2009, he wrote an impassioned essay for the Huffington Post about the value of a public school education. After his mother passed away when he was 8 and then his father when he was 12, he says teachers “quite literally saved my life.”

• According to a 2011 New York Times article, King was expelled from the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, “where he rebelled against the strict curfews and cut class.” He moved in with family in New Jersey and got into Harvard after he “poured his heart out explaining his circumstances” in an essay. After graduating, he got a Master’s at Columbia and then taught social studies for three years before co-founding a charter school.

• Before he joined the Department of Education in January 2015, King was the commissioner of education for the state of New York—becoming the first African-American and Puerto Rican person to assume the role. When he took the job, he was one of the youngest state education leaders in the US. During his tenure, he was a staunch advocate of Common Core teaching standards.

• He currently lives in Takoma Park, Maryland. His two daughters, Amina and Mireya, go to public schools.

• According to his Twitter bio, he’s also a “sometimes softball coach.”

Jackson Knapp
Assistant Editor