tv Education Secretary Nominee John King Confirmation Hearing CSPAN February 25, 2016 2:00pm-3:01pm EST
earlier this week that targeted a leading isil figure in libya. that's not the first strike that we've taken there. but anyway, the confers will be somewhat broader the presentation that brett made earlier this week. >> on the supreme court reaching out to members of the judiciary committee, the president didn't make any of those calls, or did he? >> the president made many of those calls. not all of them. >> so he spoke to someone in etch ooh member's office? did he speak to any members directly? >> maybe we're talking past each other. someone from the white house has contacted every single office on the senate judiciary committee. many of those calls were made by the president of the united states to members. the president did not call any staff. the staff level contacts occurred from white house staffers to senate staffers. >> can you say how many members he spoke to? he spoke to all them? >> no, the president did not speak to all members in all of the offices but many of them.
he did speak to both democrats and republicans. >> can you say how many? >> i don't have the specific numbers here. but the president convened many calls with democrats and rms opt judiciary committee. >> you say these are intensive consultations. are names exchanged? >> well, i don't have a -- >> beyond just saying do your job, i'll do my job, we all know the constitution. when you say "intensive," can you give some indication of what -- >> again, i think it depends on the person and on the view of the person on the other end of the phone. >> well, the best possible circumstances. >> well, yeah. look, as i've noted earlier, there are some people who have publicly and privately said they're not going to consider anybody. it is hard to have a detailed conversation about who the president is considering if they've already said it doesn't matter who you choose, i'm going to oppose them. unfortunately, that's the approach that's been taken by a large number of republicans and that's unfortunate. >> is that the response he got from some of the members he
spoke to? they just tell him, look, we' will -- are not going to deal with this. >> you'd have to ask them. the president expects them to do their job. in some cases there is a discussion about how the president would make this decision, the kind of criteria he would use. in some cases the discussion is about what that process would and should look like. but again those conversations were a lot more fruitful with people who weren't refusing to do their job. >> is there ever a sharing of names? could you say for certain at some point the president will actually discuss nominees with members of the committee? >> again, it certainly isn't off-limits for -- or somehow inappropriate for members of congress to say to the president, hey, i really like this person, you should consider them. that's not an inappropriate thing for them to say,
particularly if there is a vacancy on the supreme court, particularly if they are on the judiciary committee and particularly if the president has a constitution to fill that vacancy. that's certainly an appropriate thing to do but you'd have to ask members of congress if they did that. >> in the decision this morning, the president said we just had a meeting with zika and there was some promising news about vaccines. was he referring to something that just happened very recently that we're not aware of or just using the term more generally? >> i'm not sure exactly what he was referring to. i know the president did convene a meeting that you do know about room about three or four weeks ago where the president met with miss members of his national security team but also his top science and health advisors to discuss this issue. i know the president's regularly updated on the efforts of his team to prepare for the zika
virus. so i don't know if he was referring to that formal meeting that he had back at the e7nd of january or he was referring to one of the many updates he's received in that period of time. >> he sounded generally positive about a promising pathway for vaccines and virus is not as complicated aswe thi we think. sounded like he was referring to something that happened. >> we'll see if we can look into this and get you more specific information on what the president was referring to. >> on tuesday's meeting would you say it is the principal objective of president obama -- >> we are going to leave the white house briefing at this point. see it in its entirety on our website, c-span.org. going live now to the confirmation hearing for john king. he is president obama's nominee to head the education department. he's been acting education secretary since the end of last
then we will introduce the nominee. after dr. king's testimony, senators will each have five minutes of questions. we especially welcome bobby scott from the house of representatives whose leadership played such a key role in the passage of the every child succeeds act. it would not have happened without him. he was forceful and diplomatic and oriented toward a result. so we admire that and appreciate his work on that. i'll introduce him later to introduce dr. king. we also dr. king's family, who i know are here. i'll led him do the introducing of them at a later time. i'm very glad we're having this hearing today. when senator murray and i and representative scott and others were at the white house on december 10th for the signing of no child left behind by
president obama, i urged the president to send to the senate a nominee to succeed education secretary army duncn secretary army dunie duncan. i did that because there is such an important year for schools. we need an education secretary who is confirmed and accountable to congress while we're implementing a law that could affect elementary and secondary education for years to come. i want to make sure we work together to implement it as congress wrote it. so congratulations on your nomination, dr. king. if you'll permit a personal note, this very month, 25 years ago, i was sitting in the same position that you're sitting today having been nominated as u.s. education secretary by president george h.w. bush. i remember thinking that the senators had deliberately set me way down there and them way up here so i'd be intimidated by that. the hearing lasted four hours. we won't do that to you today, i don't think.
my appointment was announced in december, but i wasn't confirmed until march 14th. what happened to me at the hearing and my family was there, like yours, i can remember it vividly, the senator from ohio said well, governor alexander, i've heard some disturbing things about you. and i said, oh? and he said, but i'm not going to bring them up here today. and another senator lean over today and said, well, howard, i think you just did. and he probably put a hold on me. i hung two months waiting for that to be lifted. i don't expect you'll have any sort of problem like that today. senator dan coates was on the committee. when the president signed into law the every student succeeds
act in december, he was signing a law that passed the united states senate 85-12. 19 of the 22 members of this committee voted for it. i believe it is fair to say that every single member of this committee made some contribution to the result. we achieved the result because as "newsweek" said, this was a law that everyone wanted fixed and fixing it was long overdo. not only was there consensus about the need to fix the law, there was consensus about how to fix it. and the consensus which we repeated over and over again was this -- continue the important measures of the academic progress of students, disaggregate the results of tests and report them so everyone can know how the school, teacher and children are doing, and then restore to states, school districts and classroom teachers and parents the responsibility of what to do
about the testosterones a about tests and improving student achievement. it reverses the trend toward what in effect can become a national school board and restores to those closest to children the responsibility for their well being and academic success. the "wall street journal" called the new every student succeeds act "the largest evolution of federal control of schools from washington back to the states in a quarter of a century." more importantly, i believe the new law can inaugurate a new era of innovation in student achievement by putting the responsibility for children back in the hands of those closest to them. the parents, classroom teachers, principals, school boards and states. the law is so important that the nation's governors gave it their first full endorsement of any piece of federal legislation in 20 years. the last time they did that was the welfare reform bill in 1996. the law has the support of organizations that do not always
see eye to eye. in fact, almost every education organization that supported the bill is already beginning to work together to help to implement it. we held a hearing with several of them on tuesday. those groups have formed a coalition made up of the following. the national governors he association. the school superintendents association. the national education association. the american federation of teachers. the national conference of state legislators. the national association of state boards of education. the national school board association. the association of elementary school principals and of secondary school principals. the national teachers association. and it also has the support of the chief state school officers. any of us who have been around education know that these groups do not always see eye to eye all the time. but they do on this bill. you already know this because they've sent you a letter in which they said, "although our
organizations do not always agree, we're unified in our belief that essa, or as senator franken says, essa, is an historic opportunity -- well, that's your suggestion for what we call it. right? right. essa is an historic opportunity to make a world class 21st century education system. we are dedicated to working together at the national level to facilitate partnership among our members and states and districts to guarantee the success of this new law. continuing their letter, the new law replaces a top-down accountability and testing regime with an inclusive system based on collaborative state and local innovation. for this vision to become a reality, we must work together to closely honor congressional intent. essa is clear -- education decision making now rests with states and districts and the federal role is to support and inform those decisions."
i will include the letter in our record. the letter accurately reflects the consensus forged by these disparate organizations and by the democrats and republicans in congress. the consensus ended the practice of granting conditional waivers through which the u.s. department of education has become, in effect, a national school board for more than 80,000 schools in 42 states. governors have been forced to go to washington and play "mother, may i" in order to put in a plan to evaluate teachers or help a low-performing school, for example. that era is over. this law ends what had become, in effect, a federal common core mandate. it specifically prohibits washington from mandating or even incentivizing common core or any other specific academic standards. it ends the highly qualified teacher definition end requirements, teacher evaluation mandates, federal testing
accountability and annual testing progress because it moves decisions about whether schools, teachers and students are succeeding or failing out of washington, d.c. and back to states and communities and classroom teachers where those decisions belong. this hearing provides congress with the opportunity to ask questions, learn more about your background, and get your commitment to work with us if you are confirmed. my colleagues and i will have questions about such important issues as should parents have the right to opt their children out of federally mandated tests? and how will you balance the new law's requirements on that important issue with deference to state and local decision making? how will you manage the department's $1 trillion portfolio of student loans? how do you plan to deal with the issues raised by congressman chaffetz in the house at security and information and technology systems at your department. what about the civil rights practice treating guidance without issued notice and
comment as binding on our nation's college campus on the serious issue of campus sexual assault. you have a distinguished career. you've been a public school student, a teacher, you founded a charter school, served as education commissioner in new york, a state of nearly 20 million with responsibility for more than 7,000 public schools, as well as 270 colleges and universities. you were delegated duties of depp tear secretary of education by secretary duncan and you are also the father of two children. you've seen our education system from nearly every angle. as you and i have discussed, i believe that if you are confirmed, we'll be able to work together not only to implement the new law governing elementary and secondary education, but that we can take some bipartisan steps which we've already begun in the committee to make it easier and less expensive for students to go to college and that we can begin to cut through the jungle of red tape that's strangling our 6,000
institutions of higher education. many of es inthese steps are we under way, they have broad support and we should finish the job. so welcome to you and to your family. i look forward to hearing from you today. our new every student succeeds act is an important change in direction and is excellent policy. it should provide a much needed period of stability for federal policy in schools for several years. but we all know that a law is not worth the paper it is printed on unless it is implemented the way congress wrote it. that's why i'm glad the president has appointed an education secretary who can be confirmed and be accountable to the united states senate. and if you are confirmed, i look forward to working with you to help you and our new laws succeed for the benefit of 50 million children, 3 1/2 million teachers and 100,000 public schools. senator murray. >> thank you very much, chairman alexander. thank you to all of our colleagues for joining us today. dr. king, thank you for being
here. i with be t i, too, want to acknowledge your wife and two daughters for being with us today. in public service we all know we couldn't do the important jobs without having support from our families. having your two daughters in public schools imanticipate sure provides inspiration for you. i want to being a nonl my good friend bobby scott, are rankijo us today. i want to personally thank you for all your great work and leadership on education. you've been a true partner throughout your career on efforts to improve outcomes for all of our children regardless of where they live or how they learn or how much money they make, as well as championing efforts to ensure that college is affordable to all americans. bobby, welcome here to our committee as well. this is an important time. for students of all ages. from our very youngest learners all the way to those who are
pursuing college and career training. in recent years the costs of college has skyrocketed leaving families and students to struggle with high costs and the crushing burden of student debt and there have been recent cases of institutions that deceive and mislead students and student loan servicers making it harder for borrowers to pay back their loans. 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. and this is a critical moment for k-12 education as schools an districts and states transition from the broken no child left behind law to our bipartisan every student succeeds act that the president did sign in law late last year. i'll talk more about that transition a little later. but with all of these challenges and students, it is important for the department of education to have strong leadership and i am confident that dr. john king
is a strong nominee to transition from acting secretary to taking on the position of secretary of education. through his personal background he knows firsthand the power that education can have in a student's life. he has enriched student's lives as a classroom teacher and as a principal. he has worked with schools to close the achievement gaps and he served as the commissioner of education for new york state for four years. overall he has spent his career fighting on beof ha of students so they get the chance to learn and grow and thrive in the classroom and beyond. no one can question his passion for our nation's young people. this administration, as we all know, has just a little less than a year left in office but that is still plenty of time to make progress in several key areas. in higher education, i along with my democratic colleagues will continue to focus on ways to make college more affordable and reduce the crushing burden of student debt that's wowing on
so many families today. i'd also like to see the department take new steps to protect students who are pursuing their degrees, and that includes issuing clear guidelines for students like those who attended corinthian college who went to an institution that did engage in widespread deceptive practices. these students have the right to seek loan forgiveness and get some much needed relief through what's known as defense to repayment. i've been especially concerned by cases where servicers have overcharged men and women in the military on their student loans while they served in active duty. in august, senator warren, senator blumenthal and i requested that the inspector general examine the department's review of servicers's compliance with the service members' civil relief act and i anticipate that ig report very soon. i will continue to press the department to fully address cases of service members who were overcharged and take corrective steps to make sure it
never happens again. all borrowers should receive the highest level of customer service and protection under the law. of course, the role of education secretary has become especially important as the department begins implementing the every student succeed act. this new law gives states more flexibility but also includes strong federal guardrails to make sure every student has access to a high-quality education. i speck the department to use its full authority under the every student succeeds act to hold our states and schools accountab accountable, to help reduce reliance on redundant and unnecessary testing, and to expand access to high-quality preschool. i look forward to hearing more from dr. king about his vision for implement being the every student succeeds act to help every student gain access to a quality education regardless of where they live or how they learn or how much money their parents make. 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 peels of our work, to help our economy grow from the middle out. not the top down. and as secretary of ededucationi hope dr. king will be a valuable partner in that work. i look forward to working with all of our colleagues on moving this nomination forward. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator murray. before i present dr. king to the committee, i'd like to call on representative bobby scott who senator murray and i both talked about. he played and indispensable new role in this law as ranking member of the education workforce committee in the house of representatives and represents virginia's 3rd congressional district. representative scott, we welcome you and we know you have a busy schedule so after you make your remarks, you're certainly welcome to stay or to go, whichever fits your schedule. and then i will introduce the
nominee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and ranking member murray. i want to join in the comments made about the work that was done on the every student succeeds act. the work that was done was cooperative and collaborative, constructive and i think we ended up with an excellent bill. you indicated the list of people that support it. would not have been possible without that cooperative effort. i want to thank you and the ranking member for that work. also that couldn't have been done without a cooperative committee. so i want to thank all of the committee members. and also thank you for the opportunity to introduce dr. john king, an inspirational and tested leader who is before you today as president obama's nominee to serve as united states secretary of education. our nation continues to make strides in closing achievement gaps, improving graduation
rates, but there is much more work to needs to be done to fulfill or moral and civil rights obligation to ensure that every student has the opportunity to fulfill his or her academic and life-long potential. there's no one more qualified than dr. king to lead the department as it endeavors to fulfill that obligation, especially as we implement every student succeeds act. the fight for education and educational equity is a deeply personal and life-long fight for dr. king. his life is an extraordinary testament of the powerful role that education plays in creating opportunity. his life's journeys, supported by new york public school educators he credits as role models is a symbol of what we collectively seek for millions of disadvantaged students across the country. his belief in both the centrality of education a opportunity to the american dream and the vital necessity of the second chances for our young people are founded in his impressive and improbable journey, overcoming daunting
challenges early in life, going on to earn not one, but four ivy league degrees, empowering young people as an effective teacher, school leader, and charter school founder. serving as education commissioner for the state of new york, and now sitting before you today nominated by the president of the united states of america to serve as the nation's top education official charged with protecting and promoting educational opportunity for all students. acting secretary king brings a continued commitment to advancing excellence and equity for every student, elevating the teaching profession and improving access to higher education, college affordability and completion rates. while it is impossible for me to highlight his long list of experience and accomplishments with the limited time i have, i would like to share with you just a few of his accomplishments. before becoming acting secretary, dr. king served at the department as principal senior advisor. in that role he carried out
duties of deputy secretary, overseeing all preschool through 12th grade education policies, programs and strategic initiatives, as well as the operations of the department. prior to his arrival at the department, he served as the commissioner of education for the state of new york where he served as chief extiff officer of the state education department and as president of the university of the state of new york. at the time of his appointment, dr. king was one of the nation's youngest state education leaders and the first african-american and puerto rican to serve as a new york state education commissioner. dr. king also brings to his role extensive experience leading urban public schools that are closing the achievement gap and preparing students to enter, succeed in and graduate from college. prior to his appointment as senior deputy commissioner in the new york state department of education, he served as managing director with uncommon schools, a non-profit charter management organization that operates some
of the highest performing urban public schools in new york, new jersey and massachusetts. dr. king earned a botch lore of arts in government from harvard. a master of arts in teaching of social studies from columbia, a jurist doctorate from yale and a dock rat in education in educational administrative practice from columbia. for his leadership initiatives and education equity, dr. king has been honored with the award from the new york urban league, the eugene m lang lifetime achievement award from the i have a dream foundation, from the new york immigration coalition, the builders of the new new york award, and the robin hood foundation heroes award. many of you became familiar with dr. king during last year's successful reauthorization of the elementary and secondary education act, and no doubt found him and his staff to be accessible, responsible and responsive and collaborative. knowing the character and leadership of dr. king, i know that accessibility and
collaboration will persist through the remainder of his term as he and his staff at the department work closely with this committee and with the house committee on education in the workforce and i could not be more confident that dr. king will effectively lead the department as the nation's tenth united states secretary of education. mr. chairman, it is my pleasure to introduce dr. king. >> thank you, representative scott. thank you for being here. dr. king has been rwell introduced by representative scott. we welcome him, his wife and his children. he is currently the acting secretary of education. before joining the department, he served as commissioner of education in new york, the managing director of the uncommon charter schools in new york, and co-founder of rocksbury preparatory charter skoom school in massachusetts. dr. king, we now invite you to five minutes of opening remarks. i know that if you would like to
introduce your family, we'd like to meet them. your written statement will be entered into the record in its entirety. then following that, we'll have a five-minute round of questions because we have a number of senators here who would like to talk with you. >> thank you so much. thank you, chairman alexander. ranking member murray. and members of the committee for welcoming meal here today. i am humbled and honored to appear before you as president obama's nominee for education secretary. i'm proud to be here today with my wife, melissa, and my two wonderful daughters, amina and mira. i am grateful to the president for his faith in me. i am appreciative of the committee's hard work and continued focus on behalf of our nation's learners. i'm mindful of how remarkable it is that i am here at all. some of you may know, i believe education is the difference between hope and despair, between life and death even, because it was for me. i grew up in brooklyn, the son
of two life-long new york city public school educators. although i never had the chance to know them well, my parents' faith in education continues to inspire me. when i was 8 my mother died of a heart attack. my father passed away just four years later after suffering through undiagnosed alzheimer's disease that made our home a scary and unpredictable place. i miamidst that trauma and uncertainty, school was my refuge and teachers were my save yors. because there are so many young people out there like me that i feel such urgency about the work of education. thanks to the efforts of this committee, the obama administration and our nation's educators and parents, there are many reasons to feel hopeful. last year we achieved the hi highest graduation rate we've ever had pass a country. since 2008 haved the number of drop-outs. millions more students have access to higher education.
these are meaningful, positive steps. yet so much work remains. for all our progress, students of color, low-income students, english learners and students with disabilities still lag behind their peers in nearly every important measure of school achievement. far too many schools we still offer them less, less access to the best teachers and the most challenging courses, less access to the resources necessary to thrive. we have ungergent work to do. i believe we stand well positioned in part due to the every student succeeds act. the new law preserves the critical role to guardrail and protect civil rights. but it is shifting away from the one size fits all mandates of no child left behind. as a former teacher, principal and state commissioner, i know from experience the best ideas come from classrooms, not
conference rooms. new law creates a new opportunity to focus on equity and renewed freedom for state and local leaders to establish better, more balanced ways of assessing student learning. together i hope we can harness the bipartisan momentum of passage to advance college access, affordability and completion. it won't be easy. the most critical work rarely is. but i sit here today ready for the challenge and mindful of its tremendous urgency. if you'll indulge me i'll close with a story about my father that captures that sense of urgency. my father was a teacher in new york city public schools. he loved to play basketball on the weekend. one weekend he broke his wrist playing basketball so he had to have a cast on his wrist. he came in on monday after the weekend and was headed to his classroom and the principal told him he can't go to class, you can't teach your class with a cast on. and my father asked why that
was. principal said there was some sort of regulation or rule that he couldn't teach with a cast on. my father said, no, no, it is important, i want to teach my class. principal said no, absolutely not, you can't teach with a cast on. so my father walked over to the counter. if you've been in the new york city public schools, older buildings have these very high counters. my father slammed the cast down on the counter and brushed the pieces into the trash can and put his hand in his suit pocket and said i'm going to go teach my class now. and whenever -- when i was a kid, whenever someone in the family was -- said something was too hard or too challenging, my father would say, seems like it is going to rain soon. i can feel it in my wrist. and it was his way of reminding us of that story and of his sense of clarity about the role of education. my father knew that schools save lives. and though he couldn't have possibly imagined it then, i sit here decades later as living proof that he was right.
like my parents, like the president and first lady, like all of you, i believe an education is at the heart of our promise of equality of opportunity for all americans. if confirmed it will be my great privilege and honor to continue working with you to realize that promise in the months ahead. thank you again for your consideration, and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, dr. king. thank you for the story about your father. let me begin with some -- we're going to begin a round of questions now. which we'll limit to five minutes of back and forth for each senator. let me start with some nuts and bolts. you've been at the department for a while. you know how it works. we're coming to a transition point in federal education policy in a variety of ways. when we have a new law, that means that every state will need to submit a new plan to you in
order to receive the title 1 and title 2 money. that's about $17.5 billion. the law requires that organizations work together, states, teachers, et cetera, and that you work with them. the conditional waives have exi will expire. i think maybe plans would need to be in by the mid summer of next year. the plans have to go through a peer review. over the weekend i met with the governors and the governors and the teachers, all those people that i mentioned in my testimony, are forming coalitions state by state to work together on their plans. so you have a lot of people affected here. we've got 100,000 public schools, 50 states, 3 1/2
million teachers, 50 million children. the other thing to say about this that's good, this is a good law. it has broad support. it may set federal education policy for a longer period of time than four years. we've got a new multi-year law. we're going to have new plans that won't have to be amended unless they are a dramatic change. so we could be ushering in not only a new direction but a new period of stability in federal education, elementary and secondary school policy which i think teachers and principals and school boards would welcome. and because there's so many people working together to do this, it may help move. it won't entirely do it, move politics to the back burner around education to the front burner. what can you tell all of these states, teachers, chief state
school officers, about the schedule? when will your regulations be final? when do the plans need to be submitted? >> thanks for the question, senator. we believe it is very important that the process we follow in implementing every student succeeds act builds on the notion that stakeholder feedback and input is critical. so we've begun that process of gathering stakeholder feedback and input. we've held two public hearings. we push blisblished a notice in federal register." educators, community based organizations as we look to understand from stakeholders, schools, districts, what kinds of guidance and regulations they think would be necessary for
strong implementation. we have begun the process of negotiated rule making with respect to assessments and supplement, two areas where stakeholders asked u.s. to provide more clarity. we'll continue to work to review than comment -- >> what would be your goal if you were still in new york to have a state plan in? what would be -- what would you be aiming at? >> we certainly have to have the plans in place, as you said, for the '17-'18 school year. we want to make sure we have a deliberate process to provide guidelines and regulations. there is a real eager process on the state chiefs to get started. many state chiefs are already beginning to consult with stakeholders and beginning to frame their plans. >> we had a hearing earlier this week with a number of chief state school officers, governors, et cetera, they expressed both points of view really. they wanted to get on it but
they also want to take the time to get it right, which is a nice balance. well, the only other thing i would say -- i'll have other questions as we get -- if we have time for a second round -- but we'll be having half dozen hearings this year on the implementation of the new law. because as i said, the law is not worth the paper it is printed on unless we implement it the way congress wrote it. and oversight is an important part of our job as passing a law is. so my request of you is that if you're confirmed, will you be available to me and to senator murray and to other members of the committee and to our staff to promptly answer our questions as you go through this important period of time? >> absolutely. look forward to collaborating on implementation. >> well, i personally will promise not to bother you with a lot of politically inspired long
letters. but what i would like to do is if i've got a question, i'd like to get an answer. and if we have a disagreement, i'd like to find a way to resolve it promptly. and i know that there are tens of thousands of people around the country who are affected by these plans and they would have the same feeling. senator murray. >> thank you. dr. king, i've been really impressed with this administration's work over the years to protect civil rights and including promoting educational opportunities for students of color, women and girls, students with disabilities, lgbt students and i look forward to continuing to work with you on those issues. but i wanted to raise one specific issue with you today. campus sexual assault an violence. it is a growing national crisis. depending on the survey, we know that at least 1 in 5 women are being sexually assaulted while on our college campuses. that's stunning. 1 in 5 of our daughters, granddaughters, sisters, loved
ones are being sexually assaulted while in college. that is, by the way, the lowest of the estimates out there, which is really appalling and unacceptable. i hear over and over again from students, from administrators, from survivor groups, schools, and everybody, about the important work the office of civil rights does to enforce title 9. in fact, before this hearing today i received many letters from professors and students and sexual assault survivor groups supporting the work of the office for civil rights. i ask unanimous consent to include those letters in the record, mr. chairman. >> they will be. >> the office for civil rights has taken some critical action to make sure that our college campuses do have the tools and resources necessary to comply with title 9 and keep our campuses safe. i applaud their work, but i wanted to ask you, can you talk with us about the importance safe campuses and your department's commitment to
addressing that. >> absolutely. it is a top priority for the president, form if the vice president, for the department to ensure that we do everything possible to protect our students, male and female students, from sexual violence and sexual assault. in the period before the administration quarterba administration, and in the early years of the administration, we saw both the challenge of sexual assault on campuses and genuine lack of clarity on the part of higher end institutions about what they should be doing to protect students and what their students were under title 9. we issued guidance early in the administration intended to try to address that lack of clarity. that guidance i think has been very helpful to higher end institutions in creating safer environments for their students. we've worked very productively with higher end institutions to adjust their policies to make sure students are safe while protecting due process rights as well. we certainly want to continue
that work. the white house task force on sexual assault has gathered extensive feedback and input and we continue to try to steer institutions toward best practices that will help them keep their campuses safe. but all of us i think as parents, and as citizens, have to worry about the safety of our students. we want them to be able to go off to college or to be in a k-12 school and feel safe and know that the institution will do everything possible to protect their safety. >> okay. this is something i will continue to follow. so i appreciate that. also wanted to ask you about the teacher shortage. i hear this all over my state. it's exasperated in schools that serve high percentage of low-income students, lower areas, harder to teach subjects like s.t.e.m. why do you think we face this teacher shortage? >> we've got two challenges. one is shortages in specific states and specific areas or
driven by specific conditions in states. there are some states where teacher compensation is quite low relative to other fields. i think that makes it a challenge to recruit folks. there are some states that have experienced rapid growth in their population of english language learners and are struggling to recruit the necessary teachers. there are certainly districts in states around the country struggling with the issue of recruiting teachers to rural communities which can be a challenge as rural communities lose population. but then i think there is a broader challenge which is i think a tone in the conversation around educators over the last decade that has, at times, left teachers and principals feeling attacked or blamed for ot challenges that we have as a society. i think the new law gives us an opportunity for a reset on that conversation to broaden how we think about educational excellence, to make sure that teachers and principals are very much a part of how districts and states use the new flexibility under the every student succeeds act. and i think we have an
opportunity to build on the bipartisan work on every student succeeds act with some of the president's budget proposals. the president proposed $1 billion investment in making teaching the best job in the world, investing in the time for collaboration that teachers so desperately want, creating incentives for teachers to go into the highest needs communities and to teach in high needs subjects like math and science and so forth. advancing teacher preparation and school leader preparation because we know strong preparation helps people arrive better prepared and makes it more likely that they will be able to stay. think there's real opportunity to shift the conversation, but an urgent need to do so. >> i agree and i look forward to your department really working to elevate that conversation nationally. so thank you very much. >> thank you, senator murray. senat senator? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you for urging the president and our leader to do some rapid confirmation so we'd have an actual secretary of
education in place and of course, i know from your background that you realize the importance of getting that done since you have been through that lengthy waiting time yourself. i want to thank dr. king for the opportunity to visit a little bit yesterday. i will have some number of questions for you. i don't ask those in hearings because i found that it puts people to sleep. so i'll focus my questions today on cyber security at the department of education and the important protections that we need for the student information. in 2015 there was an audit the inspector general conducted a cyber security review in which he was able to penetrate one of the department's networks and move throughout the system undetected. the inspector general concluded we determined that the department's overall incident response and reporting program
was not generally effective because we identified key weaknesses in its detection and prevention system penetration. so the department's inability to detect an outside actor as it moved throughout the system raises concerns that the department has already been breached and is unaware of the compromise to its systems. these systems include 139 million social security numbers in the federal student aid program which is about $1.2 trillion in federal assets. in the prior years, report the ig reported, "in some instances, although the department said it has completed a recommendation, we continue to find that the corrective actions were not implemented and we had to issue modified repeat recommendations because of the exact similar conditions continuing to exist." so protecting the privacy and security of the students' personal and financial information is one of the greatest responsibilities i think of the department.
i do find the history of the department's capability to execute that pretty alarming. to what level are you concerned about this and if confirmed, what plans do you have to strengthen the cyber security and to improve the incident response and the reporting? >> cyber security is a top priority for me and the senior leadership team at the department. in january of 2015 i have been focused on trying to strengthen our cyber security posture. even to the level of having weekly meetings when i was in the role of deputy, weekly meetings with our senior leadership team across the department focused on making rapid progress on cyber security. i can tell you some encouraging progress has been made over the last year. last spring and summer when there was a federal cyber security sprint to evaluate the cyber security posture across federal agencies, it was found that the education department
was only at 11% in terms of the percentage of our privileged users using two factor level 4 authentication, that level of security that's rechled for protecting our data information when users come on to the system. since then we worked very diligently, amended nearly 60 contracts, and today i can tell you 95% of privileged users are using level four two factor authentication and we are closing in on 100% by the end of next month. we're making progress in closing items from our fisma audit that were identified. we are working with the inspector general and want to address the concerns that the inspector general has identified. we are also working very closely with the department of homeland security to leverage their best expertise from across the federal government. so, this is a top priority. it is fair to say that there is more work to do and we've got to move quickly to strengthen our cybersecurity posture.
the threats that are out there are numerous and will continue to grow and evolve, and we've got to make sure that we have the strongest possible posture. >> well, i appreciate the steps you've taken and we'll be looking forward to additional ones. i know that in that report there were 16 findings of security weaknesses and 6 were repeat findings from the previous year. and now there are 26 recommendations to solve those weaknesses, and ten of them are repeat recommendations. so, what steps are being taken to address the inefficiencies, and if confirmed, will you commit to working with the inspector general to implement all 26 recommendations? >> very committed to implementing the recommendations. i think over time there have been challenges both in terms of resources and talent acquisition. i think we see this challenge across the federal government, trying to identify strong cybersecurity professionals. we recently added a new chief
security officer to our i.t. team. i think that will be very helpful. he's got military experience and military intelligence. i think we'll add a lot to our team. fatara will be helpful. one of the historical challenges in the department has been separate i.t. structures between the department and federal student aid, and and this will bring those together. i think we're well positioned to bring progress in all 26. we're committed to closing out those items. >> thank you. my time is expired. i'll submit some number questions. >> thank you. senator whitehouse. >> dr. king, welcome. i'm glad you're here, and i intend to support your nomination. but i want to -- well, first let you know, behind you how well your daughters are doing through the tedium of this hearing. >> thank you. >> and second, channel a bit what i hear from my teachers in rhode island. i worked very, very hard on the
middle school piece that's in the ssa and on the innovation schools piece with literally years of work with educators to try to get those pieces as good as they could be. and in that process i spent a lot of time listening and learning. and some of the things that i learned are that the classroom teachers don't have a lot of faith in the education oversight machinery. they very often see it as propagating a jargon cycle, where people come and offer the latest jargon to them for their classrooms, and then after a couple years when the jargon gets stale they go back to other conferences and bring back new jargon and after you've seen rinse and repeat a few times, it becomes to look pretty repetitive. and the celebrity chef types seems to have their eyes on
far-away foundations than the classrooms which they serve. they see more forms, they see more tests. they see less resources. they see less freedom. i think to use your father's story they see more rules about castes and i don't know that rules about castes served your father or his classroom very well. i think what they want, more than anything else, is the benefit of the doubt. where teachers and the community support local innovation and to be able to accelerate and implement that with the least obstruction and delay. so, i would hope that as you discharge your duties you will do so with a keen eye for the hazard of unintended consequences, which the testing regime is a prime example of, a prudent judgment about the tools of particularly federal oversight, with an abiding confidence in the value of local
innovation and initiative. and with an appreciation that sometimes the course of wisdom is to get out of the way. and i think if you can do that, be there when we need you and be out of the way when the schools are trying as hard as they can to get it right, i think that will make a very big difference in our schools. teachers are fed up, and they're not just fed up with the old buildings and the budgets that they have to deal with. i think a lot of them are also fed up with the oversight mechanism that they don't feel is serving their classroom interests. i urge you to take that to heart, and you'll have our full support. >> thank you very much. i appreciate that, and i think every student succeed act gives us some great opportunities to foster that local innovation and
allow districts and states to rethink the definition of educational excellence beyond just english and math, test score performance. think about the role of science and social studies and art and music. to rethink how they approach closing achievement gaps based on innovation, and i think we've got an opportunity as well with the education, innovation and research program within every student succeeds act to continue to build an evidence base around innovations that work for high-need students locally driven and then to scale those innovations through local decision making. so i'm very optimistic about the potentia potential. thank you. >> we'll be on the same page then. but it's -- as you know, i think, from dealing with folks, it's a pretty strong feeling out there. they don't have the tools to do the job. people are in their hair, and they are so urgent about the need to do their job better in the classroom. they need resources, not restrictions. >> i think that's right.
and, you know, we have the teach to lead initiative at the department, bringing together teacher leaders from across the country. and that is exactly the sentiment we hear. and people are excited, then, when they have the opportunity to work with colleagues to do innovative things in their classrooms and their schools and their districts to try to improve outcome for students. thanks. >> thank you, senator whitehouse. senator isakson. >> thank you, chairman alexander. thank you for your conversation yesterday on the phone, dr. king. i appreciate it. and it's good to have your family here. your daughters are beautiful. >> thank you. >> so is your wife, by the way. they are beautiful. you and i suffered a criticism of -- a similar criticism in our careers. when you were in new york and commissioner of education you caught a lot of hell for having too much testing if i recall correctly, one of the articles i read. i'm one of the last people that wrote no child left behind in the congress of the united states and we caught plenty of hell for requiring too much testing. the current bill that chairman
alexander and the other members of the committee brought about for testing allows parents to opt out of testing if the state allows it. it was in there precisely to address the concern that many people had about too much testing. the 95% participation rate is still required in every student succeeds as it was under no child left behind. the difference is the state is the authority that enforces that requirement, not the federal government. you have the ability to say you'll withhold title one funding but only the state can see to it that it's withheld or they can have another mechanism to ensure participation. given that we're going to have opt -- given that we do have the opt-out provision that i authored because of my experience with too much testing and given we still have the 95% participation rate, how are you as the secretary of education going to work with the states to ensure we have a participation rate that gives us a good metrics we need to know without forcing it down the throats of parents and educators? >> appreciate the question. i think it is very important
that we had in no child left behind and had in every student succeeds the expectation for all students to participate in the assessments. at the same time, i think we have an opportunity with every student succeeds act to shift the tone. we want to work with states on this. we've asked states that haven't met their participation requirements to develop state strategies to try to respond to that. i think one thing i learned in new york, i wish we'd done sooner, was we ran a grant program to ask school leaders, teachers, in some cases parents to look together at the assessments that are given in any given district and ask do we need all of these. are these the right ones. do they make sense. could we reduce the number. are some of these assessments low level and should we replace them with things like essays and research projects and science experiments with lab reports. and that grant program was very successful. that is similar to the testing action plan that the president
announced in the fall, and we've given guidance to districts and states how to use existing funds for the time of audits. we have to acknowledge where there have been genuinely been too much time on testing and too little time as a result or loss of time on instruction and i think we've got an opportunity to shift that. the president has in his budget a proposal to increase funding for assessment grants so that states have additional resources that they can put towards those kind of audits, where they review assessments and get rid of ones that are unnecessary. so, i'm optimistic that the new law, the thoughtfulness of state leaders that i'm seeing across the country and looking at how they reduce assessments to the minimum necessary to support good instruction, i'm optimistic that those things will help us get to a better place. >> well, i appreciate your answer. and i hope as you have a ten-month tenure for sure through this administration, but