About the State Board

“Since the mayoral takeover of D.C. schools, much has been made of the powers taken from the board.  Overlooked are the powers the reconstituted board possesses — its vital role in shaping academics and student learning.  Voters who care about ongoing school reform should give careful attention Tuesday to their choices for the State Board of Education…” Washington Post Editorial 11/1/2008

So the State Board is different from the old Board of Education? 

It’s very different. The old Board of Education had direct control over D.C. Public Schools and the hiring of the superintendent. The school system’s administrators obeyed the old Board of Education which controlled the school budget.

This ended in 2007 with the Public Education Reform and Amendment Act. This law gave the Mayor sole control of D.C. Public Schools and authority to select its chancellor. The “School Board” was stripped of any budget authority or responsibility for the day-to-day operations of DCPS.

The new “State Board of Education” has different but equally important responsibilities, including approving learning standards and education goals for the entire District — a surprisingly technical and difficult task that had long been neglected by the old, overburdened, Board of Education. Plus, 41 percent of the city’s publicly educated pupils attend charter schools, which DCPS doesn’t control.

The District has the same federal education obligations as other states, such as setting rules that apply to all students and administering annual statewide assessments. Now we have a governance structure to match!

What does the DC State Board of Education do?

Lots of things — all narrowly focused on ensuring that every child has equal access to top-notch schools, teachers, and learning experiences and achieves full potential.

The State Board is the public’s voice in public education. We hold regular hearings-and incorporate what we learn from them to create better rules and practices. Like the NCAA for college sports, State Boards don’t hire coaches or field teams but they do set the rules for fair play and ensure a level playing field for all.

Members of the State board assume the responsibility to do more that just sit on a dais and look important. The community is best served when each and every member seeks out information about the community’s needs and wants as well as ways that well crafted standards will meet these challenges.

For example, the State Board has approved the District’s first-ever learning standards for health and physical education, which will help us tackle such social ills as the nation’s highest rates of childhood obesity and teen AIDS.

Another example is the months of hearings leading up to the State Board crafting and approving new home-schooling rules that push for excellence while still striving to keep any children from missing a useable and useful education. All of that was possible because people like you turned out to testify!

So What are some of the key DC State Board duties?

The State Board focuses on big-picture issues that will help as many children as possible succeed in school and beyond. Like its counterpart in other States, the DC State Board of Education is the public’s voice in public education policy and a key architect of school reform.

The State Board of Education’s duties include:

    • Setting statewide standards for what students must know and be able to do at every grade level, in every subject — from math to music to health;
    • Establishing high school graduation requirements;
    • Approving teacher licensing and certification rules;
    • Formulating residency verification rules;
    • Setting District-wide policies to foster parental involvement;
    • Approving the categories and format of the District of Columbia’s annual “statewide” accountability “report card” that presents the results of federally mandated student tests;
    • Advising the State Superintendent of Education on policy and legislation;
    • Ensuring that policies reflect the input of parents, students, educators, experts, and community members. Among other things the State Board holds regularly scheduled public meetings where all are encouraged to provide their input;
    • Serving as an unbiased source of information and a nonpartisan decision-maker for education policy;
    • Advocating for sensible rules to support great teachers, schools, and most importantly, outcomes for students.

How many members serve on the DC State Board of Education?

The D.C. State Board of Education consists of nine elected members, one elected at large and one from each of the eight Wards of the District of Columbia. I have represented Ward 2 since 2007. Every year the State board selects a member to be President and another member to be Vice-President. (More…)