One of the Last Remaining Members of Obama’s Original Cabinet Is Stepping Down

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WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 15: Arne Duncan speaks during the 2011 AAPD Awards Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building on March 15, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
Photo: Kris Connor/2011 Kris Connor

Arne Duncan is one of the longest-serving secretaries of Education, but his tenure will officially come to a close at the end of the year after Duncan said Friday that he is resigning his post in December. President Obama has reportedly tapped Deputy Secretary John B. King Jr., the former New York State education commissioner, as his successor. 

Duncan, who was appointed as Education secretary in 2009 after serving as the head of the Chicago Public Schools system, was one of the last remaining members of Obama’s original cabinet. During his tenure he implemented the Race to the Top Fund, a federal-grant competition for schools. Duncan also weathered some serious push-back during his tenure, particularly for championing the polarizing Common Core standards. 

So what about the next in line, John B. King Jr.? Well, technically he will be acting secretary of Education. The AP reports that Obama won’t try to push a nomination through the Senate with one year left in his term. King grew up in Brooklyn and had a difficult childhood that included being orphaned at age 12. He rose through the education field as a leader of charter schools in Boston and New York, until he was appointed New York’s education commissioner — the first African-American and Puerto Rican to hold the role —  in 2011. Chalkbeat New York described his tenure as “turbulent,” and King was credited with pushing through Common Core standards and closely tying test scores with teacher evaluations — two contentious policy changes that enraged some parents and teachers across the state. He relinquished his role as commissioner in January 2015 to join the Department of Education.