“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.”
–John Emerich Edward Dalberg “Lord” Acton,
Hard to argue with good ol’ John while we’re in the midst of the most repulsive campaign ever for the highest position of power in the free world. And that’s along with the bleak and dispiriting abuse-of-power lessons from the reigning Oscar-winner “Spotlight” and the Netflix phenomenon “Making a Murderer” staring us in the face.
But then I saw this in my Facebook feed this morning (although it’s from a November of 2014 speech), after weeks of a seemingly endless parade of social-media links and clips of awful, depressing exchanges from the campaign trail to presidential power.
Take that, Lord Acton.
Power does not necessarily corrupt. I know it from personal experience, from working for many years with people in power over how public schools work.
And President Obama, after enduring years of attacks on every piece of who he is, has time and again stood tall and wielded his enormous power with grace and a focus on serving the powerless.
He got off to a good start, in my mind, by appointing Arne Duncan—someone who also prioritizes people over power—as his first Secretary of Education in 2009.
And yesterday John King was confirmed as Arne’s successor. And although I know less about him, his personal background and his track record in New York suggest that he will focus on better support for teachers and greater opportunities for kids.
So, on another big day on the campaign trail that’s likely to bring more discouragement–if not despair–about the future of the presidency, it’s good to be reminded that, for now, the person with the highest title in public education will bring honor, integrity, and service to the position of power.
And here are couple of other voices sharing their thoughts on what type of leader US Secretary of Education John King will be: