Obama Education Secretary John B. King to Speak on Future of Public Education

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

AMHERST, Mass. – John B. King, who served as U.S. Secretary of Education under President Obama, will discuss “Is There a Future for Public Education?” on Wednesday, April 4 at 5 p.m. in the Amherst Room, Campus Center 10th floor, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The event is hosted by the College of Education at UMass Amherst.  If you aren't able to make it to Amherst, the UMass Center at Springfield will have a live simulcast of the lecture.

Following his talk, King will join a panel of educators for additional discussion. Panelists include UMass Amherst faculty members Dania V. Francis, department of economics; Chrystal George Mwangi, educational policy, research and administration, and Kysa Nygreen, teacher education and curriculum studies. They will be joined by Maureen M. Marshall, superintendent, Quabbin Regional School District and state Rep. Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke).

King considers himself living proof of the transformative power of a great education. According to King, “New York City public school teachers saved my life and gave me hope.” After losing his mother at age 8, school became the haven of stability, structure and support that sustained him during his father’s struggle and death from Alzheimer’s disease. Parentless at age 12, he continued to immerse himself into a world of learning, theater productions and historical research projects created by caring, inspirational teachers and a safe, supportive school community.

King is currently president and chief executive of the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that advocates for high academic achievement for all students, particularly low-income students and students of color. He was named secretary of education in January 2016, succeeding Arne Duncan. As secretary, King focused on advancing excellence and equity throughout pre-school, K-12 and higher education, supporting educators and elevating the teaching profession, and improving college access, affordability and completion. He had previously served the department as delegated deputy secretary, overseeing overall operations and all pre-K-12 education policies, programs and strategic initiatives. This included leading the cross-agency work of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, focused on creating pathways to opportunity for boys and young men of color. King came to the Department of Education after heading the New York State Education Department.

During his tenure as New York’s first African-American and Puerto Rican education commissioner, the state was a national leader in many facets of education, including investing in high-quality early learning, raising standards for teaching and learning, providing strong professional development and innovative career ladder models for teachers and school leaders, as well as increasing educational opportunities in high-need communities.

King drew upon his extensive experience leading urban schools as managing director of Uncommon Schools, a nonprofit charter management organization, and as co-director of the high-performing Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, which he co-founded. King began his career teaching high school social studies in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Boston. He holds a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.A. and Ed.D. from Teachers College of Columbia University, and a J.D. from Yale University.

The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be available.