Letter to Senate HELP Committee Regarding the Nomination of Dr. John King

Mar 8, 2016

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The Honorable Lamar Alexander
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Patty Murray
Ranking Member
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee recently held a confirmation hearing to consider President Obama’s nomination for Secretary of Education, Dr. John B. King. I understand that the committee is likely to vote on Dr. King’s nomination this month.

While I appreciate Dr. King’s many accomplishments and compelling personal history, I wish to draw your attention to some concerns I have regarding Dr. King’s tenure as education commissioner of the State of New York.

As recently reported in the Washington Post, Dr. King was instrumental in pushing reforms in New York connected with the development and implementation of Common Core. From the curriculum, to the tests included, the rollout of Common Core in New York was tempestuous. In 2014, Dr. King was eventually called on to resign from his post as commissioner, and ultimately did so in order to take a post with the U.S. Department of Education.

His time as education commissioner gives us some serious reservations about his inclination to take a balanced and fair approach to regulating, his willingness to adhere to high standards of transparency, and his desire to respect the wishes and rights of parents in the education of their children.

While he has been cooperative as Acting Secretary, his past conduct as an education leader in New York raises red flags about how he will perform as Secretary of Education. The Secretary of Education plays an integral role in implementing the letter and intent of the law. Already, the Department of Education, under the direction of former Secretary Duncan and Acting Secretary King, has taken liberties in interpreting the law through “guidance”, and treating said guidance as if it were legally-binding.

While I do not question Dr. King’s motives to improve the United States education model in accordance with his ideals, I am concerned that those ideals will continue to be those of increased federal intrusion and decreased autonomy at the local level. I hope that his divisive past won’t be a foreshadowing of what is to come should he indeed be confirmed by the Committee. 

I respectfully urge the Committee to take this information into account in considering the confirmation of Dr. King as Secretary of Education.


Senator Michael Enzi
Senator Richard Burr
Senator Johnny Isakson
Senator Rand Paul
Senator Susan Collins
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Senator Mark Kirk
Senator Tim Scott
Senator Orrin Hatch
Senator Pat Roberts
Senator Bill Cassidy