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Education warriors choosing up new sides

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2015 file

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2015 file photo, John King Jr., accompanied by President Barack Obama, speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama will nominate King, now the acting Education Secretary, to serve as Education Secretary after receiving commitments from lawmakers to give his nomination speedy consideration, the White House said Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) Credit: AP

Acting Secretary of Education John B. King may soon get the full title, and anyone trying to keep up with education politics in New York and nationally is going to need a score card, several erasers and a bottle of Wite-Out to keep track of the sides.

King was state education commissioner in New York, but left for Washington on a tide of wails that his Common Core rollout and teacher evaluation system based on test scores were disasters. President Barack Obama appointed King acting secretary in January, but did not seek to have him confirmed — until he was asked to do so by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), education secretary under George H.W. Bush. Here’s why: Congress has just passed an education bill shifting much of Washington’s control of schools to state and local officials. King is charged with creating and imposing the actual regulations. Now reformers on both sides of the aisle want to maintain the momentum toward higher standards, accountability and better education for poor and minority students.

So Democrats such as King and Obama are aligned with Republicans like Alexander. They’re opposed by the suburban-led New York State United Teachers, traditionally a Democratic touchstone, which quickly issued a nasty condemnation of King. However, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, a player both in New York City and nationally, spoke positively about King’s first month in charge.

The education warriors are picking new teams. On one side are those such as King who are fighting for higher standards and more accountability. On the other side are those who continue to defend the status quo, no matter how poorly it works for many kids.

— The editorial board