Open letter to incoming Secretary of Education John King Jr.

Mr. Secretary:

I offer my congratulations on your appointment to Secretary of Education. As the president of an independent, non-profit college, I welcome the prospect of a fellow educator leading the department during such a decisive time in our nation’s history.

Thanks to the work of your predecessor, and President Obama, education has been front and center on the nation’s agenda for the past seven years. The connection between a postsecondary educated workforce and economic prosperity has been clearly shown, as have weaknesses in our current K-20 system – a first step toward corrective action.

Under the current Administration, the department has become more open to innovation. Direct assessment, competency-based learning, prior learning assessment and various alternatives to time-based classroom instruction are now considered for Title IV financial support. The department’s willingness to experiment and take new approaches to increasing access and completion is refreshing. So, too, is the renewed focus on community colleges. Enrolling more than half of all students, these institutions are doing an incredible job with limited resources and the burdens that come with a less than stellar secondary system.

In addition, Secretary Duncan and Undersecretary Mitchell are to be applauded for opening new pathways to employment under the recently announced “Educational Quality through Innovative Partnership (EQUIP) Program,” as well as for the collaborative manner in which this was developed.

Mr. Secretary, under your leadership, I look forward to more of these cooperative efforts in the future.

With that in mind, I offer three additional areas for consideration…

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