John King Jr. (2016-2017)
John B. King Jr. was born in Flatlands, Brooklyn, in 1975. He was raised by educators: His mother Adalinda King was a school guidance counselor, and his father John B. King Sr. was a public school teacher and administrator, notably Brooklyn’s first black principal.
After his father’s death, King struggled with behavior in school, which led to his expulsion from Phillips Andover in his junior year. However, King went on to earn his Bachelor’s degree in Government from Harvard University and his Master’s from Teachers College at Columbia University. He then earned his Juris Doctor at Yale Law School and a Doctor of Education in education administration at Columbia University.
King worked as a high school social studies teacher and middle school principal when he became co-founder and co-director of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Massachusetts. The school was noted for its successes in students’ performance, earning the highest state testing scores of any urban middle school in the state. He later worked as managing director for Uncommon Schools, a public charter school organization which won the 2013 Broad Prize for top charter network.
In 2011, U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appointed King to the U. S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission. On March 14, 2016, King was confirmed as the secretary of education under President Barack Obama, who noted King’s commitment to “preparing every child for success” as an “exceptionally talented educator.” After serving in the Obama administration, King became the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization aiming to close opportunity and achievement gaps in education.
King’s lifetime commitment to education has been recognized by several institutions. He served on the board of New Leaders for New Schools for four years and is a 2008 Aspen Institute-New Schools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellow. His several awards in education include the Ann S. Kheel Award, the Eugene M. Lang Lifetime Achievement Award, the New York Immigration Coalition Builders of the “New” New York Award, and the Robin Hood Foundations Heroes Award. He was also awarded the James Madison Memorial Fellowship for secondary-level teaching in social studies, American government, and American history, and was a 1995 Truman Scholar.