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John B. King, Jr. Delivers Parting Message Via Education Department's Instagram

In his final days as Secretary of Education under the Obama Administration, John B. King, Jr. has taken time to reflect on the year he spent heading the Department. 

King's final message has come from the U.S. Department of Education's Instagram account.

"Today is a bittersweet day for me. It's the last time I will communicate with you as your Education Secretary," King began the post.

King thanks the people he encountered who "care deeply about education," including teachers, youth mentors and others who offer community support services.

 

Today is a bittersweet day for me. It’s the last time I will communicate with you as your Education Secretary. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the progress our nation has made over the last eight years toward ensuring all students have access to the rich, well-rounded learning opportunities they deserve. And it is a chance to say thank you. I am grateful to all of you — those who read these emails and care deeply about education; those who teach; those who parent; those who lead schools; those who mentor youth; those who advocate for the resources that students need to be successful; those who provide life-saving health and wraparound support services to children and families; and those who serve their communities in myriad other ways...

A photo posted by U.S. Department of Education (@usedgov) on

He also reflects on how the Obama Administration has been able to improve education over the last eight years.

"Over these eight years, we increased access to quality preschool for thousands of children and families; raised graduation rates to the highest level in history; improved students' access to technology; invested in innovations in teaching and learning; and increased college access, affordability, and completion," he wrote.

"We have worked to protect students' civil rights and advocate for students who are most vulnerable, including foster youth, young people in juvenile justice facilities, homeless youth, students with disabilities, English learners, children from low-income families, and students of color."

 

You are a critical part of the work to expand opportunity and equity for this country’s diverse learners. Over these eight years, we increased access to quality preschool for thousands of children and families; raised graduation rates to the highest level in history; improved students’ access to technology; invested in innovations in teaching and learning; and increased college access, affordability, and completion. We have worked to protect students’ civil rights and advocate for students who are most vulnerable, including foster youth, young people in juvenile justice facilities, homeless youth, students with disabilities, English learners, children from low-income families, and students of color. There’s a lot to be proud of; but, as we all know, there is much more to do before we can say that we are living up to our nation’s ideals of equality, freedom, and opportunity for everyone. But we know how to get there, and it’s through education.

A photo posted by U.S. Department of Education (@usedgov) on

King emphasized just how important access to quality education is, talking once again about how his life was changed for the better thanks to his experience in a public school.

"Quality, equitable public education is essential to a strong democracy, a thriving economy, and increased opportunity for all," he wrote.

 

My life is proof of the transformative power of education — as are the lives of the countless students I’ve taught, mentored, or, in the last year, met in the 31 states I’ve visited as Education Secretary. New York City public school teachers quite literally saved my life. When I lost both parents at an early age, teachers gave me a safe haven. They challenged me with high expectations and rich learning opportunities. Teachers provided me with hope in a time of despair. They helped me thrive and become the person I am today, and inspired me to become a high school social studies teacher and middle school principal — and to try to do for other students what educators did for me. Quality, equitable public education is essential to a strong democracy, a thriving economy, and increased opportunity for all. #allmeansall

A photo posted by U.S. Department of Education (@usedgov) on

King ended the post with a shout out to First Lady Michelle Obama, who spent her time in the White House advocating for various education issues—like increasing access to education for girls on a global scale and improving the nutritional content of food offered in U.S. schools.

"Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise," King remembers Obama said.

Going forward, King commits to continuing his work in education.

 

Never doubt that if we develop our children’s minds, nurture their hearts, and make sure they know they are safe and welcome in their schools — no matter who they are — the future of our country is strong. When First Lady @michelleobama gave her final speech, she dedicated it to educators and students themselves. The First Lady told young people, “Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.” She asked young people to lead by example, through education, and with hope. And that’s exactly what I know so many of us who serve in the education community will continue to do, too. To lead by our example, through education, and with hope. Know that I will be rooting for and working hard right along with you.

A photo posted by U.S. Department of Education (@usedgov) on

"Know that I will be rooting for and working hard right along with you," reads the last words of his final message. 

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

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