John B. King, Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps, from preschool through college. King served as the U.S. secretary of education from 2016 to 2017 as a member of President Barack Obama’s administration. In tapping him to lead the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama called King “an exceptionally talented educator,” citing his commitment to “preparing every child for success” and his lifelong dedication to education as a teacher, principal, and leader of schools and school systems.
Before becoming secretary of education, beginning in January 2015, King carried out the duties of the U.S. deputy secretary of education, overseeing all policies and programs related to P–12 education, English learners, special education, and innovation. In this role, King also oversaw the agency’s operations. King joined the department following his tenure as the first African American and Puerto Rican to serve as New York State education commissioner, a post he held from 2011 to 2015.
King began his career in education as a high school social studies teacher in Puerto Rico and Boston, MA, and as a middle school principal.
King’s life story is an extraordinary testament to the transformative power of education. Both of King’s parents were career New York City public school educators, whose example serves as an enduring inspiration. King’s parents passed away from illness by the time he was 12 years old. He credits New York City public school teachers—particularly educators at P.S. 276 in Canarsie and Mark Twain Junior High School in Coney Island—for saving his life by providing him with rich and engaging educational experiences and by giving him hope for the future.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts in government from Harvard University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, as well as a Master of Arts in the teaching of social studies and a doctorate in education from Teachers College at Columbia University. King lives in Takoma Park, MD, with his wife (a former kindergarten and first-grade teacher) and his two daughters, who attend local public schools.