Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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5/20/11: John B. King Jr. ’07JD

Orphaned at age 12, John B. King Jr. ’07JD says New York City public schools “quite literally saved my life.” As New York State’s brand-new commissioner of education, he will now have the chance to extend that life-saving learning to millions of schoolchildren.

Just 36 years old, King earned a bachelors from Harvard, a law degree from Yale, and a doctorate in education from Columbia. He has cofounded and taught at charter schools in Boston and New York. As the state’s deputy commissioner for the past two years, he has been the education department’s “details person,” the New York Times reports—“preferring to sit in a room eating takeout and crunching numbers rather than dipping into Albany politics, which he found frustrating and divisive.”

According to the Times, King’s unanimous election this week by the state’s Board of Regents makes him “among the nation’s youngest educational leaders,” as well as New York’s first black and first Puerto Rican education commissioner. Says the regent who formally nominated him: “Hollywood used to make movies about people like John King.”

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