03.15.16

Senate Approves John King to Lead Dept. of Education

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Senate voted to confirm Dr. John King’s nomination to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education. In advance of his confirmation vote, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor:

 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“This is an important time for students. 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.”  

 

“…the role of Education Secretary has become especially important as the Department begins implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act. 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.”

 

“…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. I hope to partner with Dr. King as Secretary of Education to work toward that shared goal.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you, M. President.

 

“I’m glad to come to the floor today to speak in support of Dr. John King’s nomination to serve as Secretary of Education.

 

“This is an important time for students.

 

“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. 

 

“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.

 

“And I hear all the time from students and families who are struggling with the high costs of college and the crushing burden of student debt.

 

“With all of these challenges and opportunities, the Department of Education will need strong leadership.

 

“And I am glad President Obama has nominated Dr. John King, who is currently serving as Acting Secretary of the department.

 

“I commend Senator Lamar Alexander, chairman of the HELP Committee, for moving forward with Dr. King’s nomination in a timely and bipartisan manner in our committee.

 

“And I also appreciate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for bringing this nomination to the floor.

 

“M. President, Dr. John King has a longstanding commitment to fighting for kids.

 

“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.

 

“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.  

 

“And that progress is more likely with a confirmed Secretary in place at the Department.

 

“In higher education, I – along with my Democratic colleagues – will continue to focus on ways to make college more affordable, reduce the crushing burden of student debt that is weighing on so many families today; and continue working to fight back against the epidemic of campus sexual assault and violence.

 

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

 

“As one example, students – like those who went to Corinthian Colleges - have the right to seek loan forgiveness if they attended a school that engaged in deceptive practices

 

“I am pleased the Department has a new proposal to set up a simple way for students to get relief.

 

“And all borrowers should receive the highest levels of customer service and protections under the law, particularly our servicemembers and military families.

 

“This is an issue I and others have raised directly with Dr. King during his confirmation and one where we are finally seeing the Administration make progress.

 

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

 

“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.

 

“M. President, 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.

 

“I hope to partner with Dr. King as Secretary of Education to work toward that shared goal.

 

“And I urge my colleagues to support his nomination today.

 

“Thank you.”