Acting education secretary and NYC native John King Jr. says teachers saved him

Friday, October 2, 2015
Senior Education Department official, John King Jr., left, accompanied by President Barack Obama, speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 2.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik-AP

WASHINGTON -- The Education Department's incoming secretary, John King Jr., says he recognizes that education can be the difference between life and death.

After all, it was for him.

King grew up in Brooklyn, but lost him mom at the age of 8 and his father at the age of 12. He moved between family members and schools during those years. He says teachers saved him and drove him to succeed. He went on to graduate from Harvard, Yale and Columbia.

Now, he's on the verge of running the nation's Education Department. King will serve as acting secretary once Arne Duncan steps down in December.

Duncan calls King an inspiration. He says his success shows there are so many other kids out there struggling with tough circumstances that teachers can reach.