Secretary John King’s Lessons on Classroom Diversity
Culture We spoke with the U.S. Secretary of Education on how to ensure that students of all backgrounds succeed in academia.
You have a commitment to “prepare every child for success.” What does success mean to you?
John King: Some children in this country, especially students of color, are not receiving the quality, well-rounded education that will allow them to succeed. My goal is to make sure all students, regardless of race or background, have the chance to reach their potential and achieve their dreams.
With regard to preparing Latino students for entering and graduating college--what's changed lately?
The administration is addressing the achievement gap through rigorous enforcement of civil rights provisions, expanded protection of English language learners, encouraging and preparing quality educators to teach in the classrooms where they’re needed the most and by making sure federal funds intended to help vulnerable students are allocated appropriately.
Can you touch on your personal story with respect to how important is it for students of color to see teachers of color in their schools?
Having teachers of color was crucial in helping me get back on my feet after the devastation of losing my parents at an early age. They didn’t see me as an African American, Puerto Rican orphan with no chance, but instead had high expectations for me, took me seriously, and provided me with a well-rounded education.
What is your ideal vision for the future of education in America?
I think it’s extremely important that we focus on preparing a workforce for a competitive global economy, which means making sure all of our students are culturally and globally competent. That means being able to speak two or more languages, understanding different cultures, being receptive to diverse perspectives, and learning through open cultural exchange.