02.25.16

Murray Calls for Strong Leadership at the Department of Education, Urges Confirmation of Dr. John King

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered opening remarks at the nomination hearing of Dr. John King to serve as Secretary of Education. In her remarks, Murray highlighted the significant challenges and opportunities students face today. In particular, Murray stressed the need for strong leadership at the Department as schools, districts, and states transition from the broken No Child Left Behind law to the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). During the hearing, Murray praised Dr. King’s experience and commitment to helping students succeed in the classroom.

 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“The role of Education Secretary has become especially important as the Department begins implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act. This new law gives states more flexibility, but also includes strong federal guardrails to make sure every student has access to a high quality education. I expect the Department to use its full authority under the Every Student Succeeds Act to hold schools and states accountable, to help reduce reliance on redundant and unnecessary testing, and to expand access to high quality preschool.”

 

“I look forward to hearing more of Dr. King about his vision for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act to help every student gain access to a quality education, regardless of where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make.”

 

“A good education can be a powerful driving force for success in our country, and it can help more families live out the American Dream. That’s what makes education such a vital piece of our work to help our economy grow from the middle out, not the top down. And as Secretary of Education, I hope Dr. King will be a valuable partner in that work.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you, Chairman Alexander, and all of our colleagues for joining us.

 

“And Dr. King – thank you for being here.

 

“I’d also like to acknowledge your wife, Melissa, and two daughters for joining us today. As we all know, in public service, we could not do our jobs without the incredible support of our families.

 

“And having two daughters in public schools, I am sure provides tremendous motivation and inspiration for your work.

 

“And I want to acknowledge my good friend, Representative Bobby Scott, the Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, who has joined us today to introduce Dr. King to the Committee. 

 

“And I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all his great work and leadership on education.

 

“He has been a true partner throughout his career on efforts to improve outcomes for children – regardless of where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make – as well as championing efforts to ensure that college is affordable to all Americans.

 

“Welcome, Bobby.

 

“This is an important time for students of all ages – from our youngest learners all the way to those pursuing college and career training.

 

“In recent years, the cost of college has skyrocketed, leaving families and students to struggle with high costs and the crushing burden of student debt.

 

“And there have been recent cases of institutions that deceive and mislead students – and of student loan servicers making it harder for borrowers to pay back their loans.

 

“When it comes to early learning, we’ve seen improvements. But we have much more to do to expand access to high-quality preschool so more kids can start school on strong footing. 

 

“And this is a critical moment for K-12 education as schools, districts, and states transition from the broken No Child Left Behind law to our bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act that the President signed into law late last year. I’ll talk more about that transition a little later.

 

“With all of these challenges and opportunities, it’s important for the Department of Education to have strong leadership.

 

“I am confident that Dr. John King is a strong nominee to transition from Acting Secretary to taking on the position of Secretary of Education.

 

“Through his personal background, he knows firsthand the power that education can have in a student’s life.

 

“He has enriched students’ lives as a classroom teacher and principal.

 

“He has worked with schools to help close achievement gaps. And he served as the commissioner of education for New York state for four years.

 

“Overall, he has spent his career fighting on behalf of students so they get the chance to learn, grow, and thrive in the classroom and beyond. No one can question his passion for our nation’s young people.

 

“This Administration has a little less than a year left in office. But that is still plenty of time to make progress in several key areas.

 

“In higher education, I – along with my Democratic colleagues – will continue to focus on ways to make college more affordable and reduce the crushing burden of student debt that is weighing on so many families today.

 

“I’d also like to see the Department take new steps to protect students who are pursuing their degrees.

 

“That includes issuing clear guidelines for students – like those who attended Corinthian Colleges – who went to an institution that engaged in widespread deceptive practices. These students have the right to seek loan forgiveness and get some relief through what’s known as “defense to repayment.”

 

“I also have been especially concerned by cases where servicers have overcharged men and women in the military on their student loans while they served on active duty.

 

“In August, Senator Warren, Senator Blumenthal and I requested that the Inspector General examine the Department’s review of servicers’ compliance with Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. I am anticipating that IG report soon.

 

“And I will continue to press the Department to fully address cases of servicemembers who were overcharged and take corrective steps to make sure that never happens again.

 

“All borrowers should receive the highest levels of customer service and protections under the law.

 

“And of course, the role of Education Secretary has become especially important as the Department begins implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act.

 

“This new law gives states more flexibility, but also includes strong federal guardrails to make sure every student has access to a high quality education.

 

“I expect the Department to use its full authority under the Every Student Succeeds Act to hold schools and states accountable, to help reduce reliance on redundant and unnecessary testing, and to expand access to high quality preschool.

 

“I look forward to hearing more of Dr. King about his vision for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act to help every student gain access to a quality education, regardless of where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make.

 

“A good education can be a powerful driving force for success in our country, and it can help more families live out the American Dream.

 

“That’s what makes education such a vital piece of our work to help our economy grow from the middle out, not the top down.

 

“And as Secretary of Education, I hope Dr. King will be a valuable partner in that work.

 

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on moving forward with his nomination.

 

“Thank you.”