Updated 2:28 p.m. | A White House official confirmed that Education Secretary Arne Duncan intends to step down in December, with President Barack Obama planning to replace him with his deputy, John B. King Jr.
That will leave Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as the only original member of the president’s Cabinet still serving. Duncan’s decision comes as the House and Senate are still working out their differences on a long-overdue rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law, with the prospects still uncertain amid a full legislative plate. With a little over a year left in Obama’s term, the president doesn’t intent to formally nominate King, who would likely face a bruising process in the Senate with a backdrop of presidential politics. Instead, he’s expected to serve as acting secretary indefinitely.
Obama Announces Departure of Education Secretary Duncan
According to an internal email Duncan sent to staff, Duncan said he made the decision after months of commuting between Chicago, where his family is, and Washington and doesn’t know what he’ll do next.
According to his bio, King has been Duncan’s senior adviser who has been delegated the duties of deputy secretary since January, overseeing preschool through 12th grade education policies, the agency’s workforce and the president’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative. He previously served as the commissioner of education for New York, and was the first African-American and Puerto Rican to hold that post.
King began his career in education teaching high school social studies in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Boston, per his bio, and he has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a master’s from Columbia, a J.D. from Yale Law School and a doctorate from Columbia.
More from his bio:
Both of Dr. King’s parents were career New York City public school educators, whose example serves as an enduring inspiration. Dr. King’s parents both died from illness by the time he was 12, and he struggled to cope with their loss as he moved between family members and schools. He credits New York City public school teachers — particularly his teachers at P.S. 276 in Canarsie and Mark Twain J.H.S. in Coney Island — for saving his life by providing transformative educational experiences and giving him hope about the future. His belief in the centrality of educational opportunity to the American Dream and the vital necessity of second chances for our young people has its foundations in his own experience of overcoming so many challenges and going on to graduate from Harvard, Yale and Columbia and become a teacher and education leader. He lives in Takoma Park, Md., with his wife and two children, who attend local public schools.Corrected 12:05 p.m. An earlier version of this post misstated that King would be nominated for the position.
Related: See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call’s new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.