Press Release

WASHINGTON (02/02/17) – David V. Britt, chairman of the Board of Directors of The Education Trust, announced today that John B. King Jr., who served as secretary of education under President Barack Obama, has been unanimously selected by the board to assume the role of president and CEO.

“Over its 25-year history, The Education Trust has been a leader in the work to bring attention and action to closing long-standing opportunity and achievement gaps that separate too many low-income students and students of color from their peers, pre-kindergarten through college. This history provides a strong foundation on which to build new partnerships, new work, and new learning — indeed a new movement — and we think John is exactly the right leader for this next stage of the organization’s work,” said Britt.

King started his career in education as a high school social studies teacher in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Boston, Massachusetts. He subsequently co-founded the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Boston, a highly successful, high-poverty public charter school that subsequently won The Education Trust’s Dispelling the Myth Award. That school grew into a network of unusually successful public charter schools, called Uncommon Schools, which he co-managed. From 2011 to 2015, King served as the first African American and first Puerto Rican commissioner of education in New York State, then was tapped by President Obama in 2015 for leadership at the U.S. Department of Education — first performing the duties of deputy secretary, and then as the 10th U.S. Secretary of Education.

Today, King told The Education Trust staff, “The Education Trust’s mission is my life’s mission. I lost my parents at a very young age. But in my New York City public schools, I was fortunate to have great teachers who made school engaging, challenging, and nurturing. Amazing teachers at P.S. 276 in Canarsie and Mark Twain Junior High School in Coney Island gave me a sense of hope and possibility. If I had not had those teachers, I wouldn’t be alive today. They literally saved my life. At The Education Trust, I want to help more kids like me — kids for whom schools make all the difference — get the education they need and deserve.”

In recent years, The Education Trust has expanded its work in states, augmenting its presence in the nation’s capital by opening offices in California, Michigan, and New York. Beyond those three states, the organization has worked closely with civil rights, disability, business, and education reform organizations to support and advance attention to equity in state education policy, beginning with the new accountability and public reporting systems required by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This work included a series of ESSA “boot camps” for diverse groups of advocates from 22 states.

Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza — an organization that has worked closely with Ed Trust on many ESSA issues — welcomed John to his new role. “The naming of John King to this post is a home run. He has been a fearless champion for the country’s children, especially our most vulnerable kids, and we look forward to working closely with him in the years ahead, both in Washington and in the states. Along with many great partners, our organizations have created some real momentum, but we now must work to keep that momentum going at the local level.”

King wants to build on that momentum by increasing The Education Trust’s support for state advocacy, but also by seeking new partnerships with equity-minded education and civic leaders around the country.

“John King is a thoughtful public servant with a long history of working to close achievement gaps and ensuring that all students have access to opportunity. We share a firm belief that every child in this country deserves a quality education, and I look forward to working with John and The Education Trust to make that promise a reality,” said Margaret Spellings, president of the University of North Carolina system and former U.S. Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush.

Both state education leaders and leaders in equity-oriented teacher organizations expressed delight at having one of their own leading the Ed Trust’s work.

John White, Louisiana state superintendent of education, said, “As a state commissioner, John created an agenda for classroom improvement and fairness to all children that set the stage for the nation for his state-level colleagues. Those Americans concerned about the future of our nation and the opportunities afforded its children, whatever our individual politics, know that the smartest minds and most strident advocates must be squarely and entirely on the side of children, especially those children facing long odds. I have worked with John King for more than a decade, at the school level, the state level, and the national level. There is not a more informed or compelling advocate for our kids and for our nation’s potential.”

Teacher-led organizations have been especially enthusiastic about Ed Trust’s work to elevate the experiences of teachers of color and its work developing tools to help teachers assess — and improve —the rigor of their daily assignments to students, and to better understand how students experience low-rigor assignments.

Evan Stone, co-chief executive officer of Educators 4 Excellence, said, “We’ve worked with John from his time in New York to his time in Washington. He is an educator’s educator, who deeply understands the challenges teachers face every day and is committed to finding ever better ways to address those — all in the service of kids. All of us at E4E are excited to partner with him in his new role.”

The Ed Trust’s work does not end in high school, but spans higher education, as well. The organization’s College Results Online tool provides honest data on how well colleges serve their students, compared with other institutions serving similar students. It reveals just how much the choices made by institutional leaders matter to success — especially of underrepresented students. Through its OASIS initiative, the organization also has been providing support to colleges and universities serving high concentrations of low-income students and students of color as they work to improve student success.

José Luis Cruz, now president of Lehman College at the City University of New York, participated in that work in his role as provost at California State University Fullerton. Cruz said, “All of us in higher education, especially those in institutions like mine that are the route upward in America for many hard-working low-income students, should be delighted to have John King in this new role. Under his leadership, The Education Trust will continue to push us — and support us — to do what we need to do for the most vulnerable students.”

King and his wife, Melissa, live in Takoma Park, Maryland, where their two daughters attend Montgomery County Public Schools. He will start his new role on March 6, 2017. After a brief transition period, Ed Trust CEO Kati Haycock will step down from the organization she founded in the early 1990s.

Haycock said, “Leading this organization — and working with a staff of this quality and dedication on an issue of such importance to the future of our country — has been the privilege of my life. John is exactly the right leader to take the organization to new levels, and I have every confidence that he will do just that. He is smart, passionate, and absolutely committed to doing what is right for students, always.”