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Secretary King Celebrates National Blue Ribbon School Educators

sec king with nbrs logo
Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. received a warm welcome and standing ovation at the 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools ceremony. USED photo by Joshua Hoover.

In praising the assembled educators in encouraging students and supporting their efforts, U. S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., drew on his own powerful story of being saved as a young boy by teachers who saw value in him. In his remarks, he discussed the current education authorization act, ESSA, the Every Student Succeeds Act, as part of a continuing national effort, beginning in 1965, to “lift up” all students through educational equity and noted areas of ESSA funding available for STEM, arts, and safety programs (Title IV) and professional development (Title II).

In response to audience questions, he discussed technology, poverty, race, college and career readiness, and preschool. Dr. King saw promise in technology to personalize learning and expand access to challenging content. About poverty, he noted that schools are embedded in their local communities and poverty takes a heavy toll on mental health. The number of police officers in schools has expanded, he noted, but not the number of counselors. He decried the continuing toll of racism: “Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, the nation is more segregated than ever,” he urged educators to “grapple with our own biases” and look, for example, at racial patterns in preschool suspensions.

He championed college and career readiness programs, STEM, and art and music programs while noting the distribution of such resources are equity issues. He also emphasized the value to schools of diverse student and teacher populations and called for universal preschool for four-year olds (about 40% currently attend preschool) and equitable wages for preschool teachers.

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