Inequitable: Former Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. on Repairing Racial Disparities in Our Schools

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

On today’s episode of Add Passion and Stir, we’ll be talking with former Secretary of Education John B. King about closing achievement gaps in our educational systems.  We recorded this episode on Monday March 21st just hours before the tragedy in Boulder, Colorado when a gunman entered a grocery story and killed 10 people.

We spoke with Congressman Mike Thompson from California  founder and chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. His timely and informed commentary on the Boulder shooting serves as a preamble to today’s podcast on dismantling systemic obstacles to equality in our society.

Education Trust President and CEO and former US Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. joins Share Our Strength Managing Director of DEI Robert Simmons and Billy Shore to discuss the inequities in our education system and the new partnership between Education Trust and Share Our Strength. “The education system is inequitable at every level and gives the least to the kids who need the most. If our education system was more equitable, we would have a more equitable society,” states King.  “[The recently-passed Child Tax Credit] gives me hope that maybe we’re coming to a place of greater public understanding of the role the government has to play in ensuring equality of opportunity,” he says.

King, Simmons and Shore discuss their partnership intended to shine a spotlight on the connection between education and hunger. “Only 8% of African Americans live in a census tract with a grocery store. That’s a disaster. That’s a result of policy choices, and we can make different policy choices,” King believes. “Together, we can make clear that hunger is a symptom of a number of deeper issues that have to do with poverty, inequity, and structural racism,” concludes Shore.

Join us and learn from one of the most inspiring leaders in education about how we can choose to make better policy choices around systemic inequities.

Resources and Mentions:

John B. King Jr.

John B. King Jr.

President and CEO
John B. King Jr. is the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps, from preschool through college. King served in President Barack Obama’s cabinet as the 10th U.S. Secretary of Education. In tapping him to lead the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama called King “an exceptionally talented educator,” citing his commitment to “preparing every child for success” and his lifelong dedication to education as a teacher, principal, and leader of schools and school systems.
Robert Simmons

Robert Simmons

Managing Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Robert Simmons is the managing director of diversity, equity & inclusion at Share Our Strength. Mr. Simmons has led numerous diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in higher education and city government including working as chief of innovation and research for the District of Columbia Public School system; and serving as the vice president for strategy and innovation for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement.
Rep. Mike Thompson

Rep. Mike Thompson

U. S. Representative
Congressman Mike Thompson represents California's 5th Congressional District. He was first elected in 1998. Thompson is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and serves as Chairman of the Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee and as a senior member of the Health Subcommittee. In the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Thompson was named Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Thompson is a hunter, gun owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment. He also believes that Congress should do more to reduce gun violence. In February of 2013, Thompson’s task force released a comprehensive set of policy principles that will reduce gun violence and respect the Second Amendment, including expanding the criminal background check system to all commercial firearm sales. Thompson is the co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Wine Caucus, which consists of over 215 U.S. Senators and Representatives. He is a member and was twice co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus. He is also a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, which is composed of Democrats committed to bipartisan problem solving and fiscal responsibility. As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Military Veterans Caucus, he led the effort to improve treatment options for servicemembers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury. He has authored bills to help veterans find work as they make the transition back to civilian life. And, as someone who went to college on the GI Bill himself, he helped lead the effort in Congress to pass the 21st Century GI Bill. He served in combat with the U.S. Army as a staff sergeant/platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade where he was wounded and received a Purple Heart. Thompson is the co-author of comprehensive immigration reform. He also has worked to ensure equal rights for same sex couples, and has co-authored legislation that gives state and local law enforcement the tools to prosecute hate crimes based on sexual orientation. As a combat veteran, Thompson worked to end the discriminatory policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The Education Trust

The Education Trust is a national nonprofit that works to close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color and students from low-income families. Through research and advocacy, Ed Trust supports efforts that expand excellence and equity in education from preschool through college, increase college access and completion particularly for historically underserved students, engage diverse communities dedicated to education equity, and increase political and public will to act on equity issues.