Secretary John B. King Jr.’s Cabinet Exit Memo: Giving Every Student a Fair Shot

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Giving Every Student a Fair Shot
Progress Under the Obama Administration’s Education Agenda
Secretary John B. King Jr.
Cabinet Exit Memo | January 5, 2017

“Our commitment to [our children’s] education means giving them the knowledge they need
to thrive and lead. … The future belongs to the nation that best educates its people. If we continue building
on the progress we’ve made … I’m confident we will continue to be that nation.”

– President Barack Obama, May 3, 2016

Education’s Promise

As the parent of two school-aged children and a former high school social studies teacher and middle school principal, I have seen the difference that a quality education makes in unlocking the vast potential of every child. And as U.S. Secretary of Education, I understand that education is critical to expanding opportunity, growing a thriving national economy, and ensuring American leadership in the 21st century and beyond. Education also is vital for preparing all our people for lives of engaged citizenship.

The mission of the U.S. Department of Education is to promote educational excellence and help all students—regardless of their race, religion, income level, sex, first language, ability status, or any other demographic factor—have equal access to educational opportunity.

I would like to share with you the great progress our nation has made in spurring systemic reform and promoting innovation across America’s education system—from preschool through college—over the last eight years, and highlight critical areas where we must build on promising practices and success. But first, it’s important to set this progress in context.

When President Barack Obama entered office in 2009, the nation was in the midst of a severe economic crisis. A set of key policies and investments, beginning with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, helped to get Americans back to work and secure the nation’s long-term prosperity.

The President understood that education must be one of those investments, and the Recovery Act helped jumpstart efforts to better serve all students, especially the most disadvantaged; make college more affordable; and save hundreds of thousands of teacher and education jobs. The Recovery Act helped lay the foundation for ambitious education reform, and over the last eight years, the Department of Education has supported states in their work to hold all students to high standards, build data systems that better track student growth, turn around struggling schools, lift up educators, and embrace innovation in teaching and learning. Today—due to these efforts and the commitment of educators, state and local leaders, communities, families, and students—the nation’s education system is stronger and better able to support the success of every learner.

To read Secretary King’s full exit memo, please see HERE.