U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. to Address Graduates at Commencements this Spring

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U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. will deliver commencement addresses during end-of-academic-year celebration ceremonies at a high school that benefited from a federal School Improvement Grant (SIG), a two-year vocational technical college, and an HBCU—a historically black college or university. King will applaud graduates for their hard work and highlight the role that each type of institution plays in ensuring success in postsecondary education for all students.

King’s appearances highlight key areas of focus for the Administration over the past seven years. The country has made significant gains in high school graduation and college completion rates—especially among students of color—and is making real strides in turning around persistently low-performing schools and providing greater opportunities for minority students, low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University is a socio-economically diverse HBCU with a strong teacher preparation program. HBCUs are leaders in training African American teachers, which is critical to increasing teacher diversity in America’s classrooms. Milwaukee Area Technical College provides eligible students with free tuition and fees for four consecutive semesters, as called for by the Administration’s America’s College Promise proposal.  Both of these institutions are committed to attracting, retaining and graduating diverse students, including those from low-income families, which is a priority reflected in the U.S. Department of Education’s Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Need report.

In 2010, T.C. Williams High School—one of the largest and most diverse high schools in Virginia—was identified among the state’s lowest-performing schools.  Five years later, aided by the SIG program, it has shed that label and significantly improved graduation rates, especially among students of color.  Today, among other initiatives, the school assigns every student to a counselor and a social worker who tracks them through their years at the school.

The face of the American student is changing—making access to and completion of higher education all the more important. All students should have the opportunity to pursue a quality, affordable education—regardless of background or circumstance.

The Obama Administration is committed to expanding educational opportunity even further, in partnership with schools, colleges, and universities. Efforts such as the America’s College Promise proposal, announced last year, would make two years of community college free, so students can learn critical workforce skills and earn college credits at no cost. King will discuss the importance of renewing our national focus on outcomes in higher education, ensuring students are graduating on time with an affordable, meaningful degree or credential. Education is—and must remain—the “great equalizer,” ensuring that every student has the opportunity to join a thriving middle class.

Upcoming commencement events are listed below: