John B. King Jr., who has been the acting Secretary of Education since December 2015, was officially confirmed on Monday following a 49 to 40 vote by the Senate, according to the New York Times. Until now, he was acting as a replacement for Arne Duncan, who stepped down in December. His influence will likely further the value of having a private tutor. Manhattan, and more broadly New York as a whole, has improved its education tremendously over the years, largely due to measures taken by Dr. King Jr.
In the earlier years of his career, he worked as a social studies teacher in a Brooklyn high school, eventually becoming the principal. Working his way up the ladder and expanding his influence on New York, he went on to open a charter school before becoming the state education commissioner.
As commissioner, Dr. King Jr. oversaw the implementation of the EngageNY curriculum, which was put in place by the state. While this received national praise for its success, it has recently led to some backlash due to the fact that on a national level, the government’s involvement in education has proven to be roundly negative.
Meanwhile, Congress has just recently passed a rare bipartisan law signed by President Obama titled the Every Student Succeeds Act that aims to modify the highly controversial No Child Left Behind Act created by the predominantly Republican George W. Bush Administration. Dr. King Jr. will be overseeing the progress of this new law.
The No Child Left Behind Act was meant to unify the education system nationwide by requiring all students to take an exam designed by the government. If enough kids didn’t pass at a school, their teachers were to be replaced. This came as a response to too many teachers with tenure allegedly neglecting to teach at a sufficient level once they established a certain level of job security.
The law turned out to look better on paper than in action and ultimately backfired because there was too much variance in education levels between schools and students, depending on social background and other factors. As a result, many teachers lost their jobs in the midst of a financial crisis, in some cases causing entire schools to have to close down. The natural response among parents was anti-government sentiment.
This new law aims to revamp the law put in place by the Bush administration by dramatically scaling back the government’s involvement in education nationwide, specifically for public schools, hence why some have their doubts on how whether it will be implemented as it should.
Before Mr. Duncan stepped down, Dr. King Jr. was Mr. Duncan’s senior adviser since the early months of 2015. Dr. King Jr. is a Democrat who was born in 1975 in Flatlands, New York, which is located in Brooklyn. His New York roots have left him with liberal values, which presumably will make for a smooth transition, as Mr. Duncan also was of the Democratic Party. That said, the vote for his confirmation was notably close, most likely due to the fact that despite EngageNY’s national praise, it nonetheless suggests that Dr. King Jr. supports federal involvement in education, which has proven not to work on a national scale.
Furthermore, the presidential election is coming in November, at which point there quite likely will be additional changes made. Needless to say, education in America is a transient thing. But one thing is consistent through it all. There’s no denying the fastly increasing value of a private tutor. Manhattan has grown far more competitive in recent years, which is why more parents are investing in it than ever. For more information on how to register your child with exclusive tutors, don’t hesitate to contact Big Apple Tutoring at 212-479-0830.