School & District Management

Office Overseeing D.C. Performance in State of Change

By Catherine Gewertz — October 16, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The District of Columbia might not be a state, but it has a state office of education. And that office just got a lot bigger.

The office that has handled just a few discrete functions, such as administering federally funded child-nutrition programs and verifying student-enrollment counts, is now taking on all the usual oversight roles of a state department of education. And it’s growing to more than 370 employees, from about 96.

The change in the newly renamed Office of the State Superintendent of Education is dictated by the June legislation that authorized Washington Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s takeover of the city school system. (“Mayor Takes Control, Picks Novice to Lead Troubled D.C. District,” June 20, 2007.)

See Also

See other stories on education issues in District of Columbia. See data on the District of Columbia’s public education system.

Aimed at clarifying state and local roles, the change gives state Superintendent of Education Deborah A. Gist expanded responsibilities, such as overseeing the district’s academic performance, and the staff members to back them up.

“We’re pretty close to being the same as other state departments of education,” Ms. Gist said, “except that we have only one major school district.” (Hawaii is the only state with a single, statewide school district.)

The purview of Ms. Gist’s agency includes the 55,000 students in regular district public schools, as well as the 20,000 in charter schools.

However typical some of its new functions might be of those of its counterparts in the 50 states, the District of Columbia’s state office still bears the stamp of uniqueness. No other state superintendent, for instance, answers to a mayor. Ms. Gist does; her four-year appointment, by the previous mayor, Anthony A. Williams, runs through 2009. She oversees the work of Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who also answers to the mayor. Mr. Fenty hired Ms. Rhee.

The city’s school board—now known as the D.C. State Board of Education—is responsible for setting broad policy, much any other state board of education. The panel is in transition, with five members elected and four appointed by the mayor. Next year it becomes an all-elected body.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the October 17, 2007 edition of Education Week


Student Well-Being Webinar After-School Learning Top Priority: Academics or Fun?
Join our expert panel to discuss how after-school programs and schools can work together to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss.
Budget & Finance Webinar Leverage New Funding Sources with Data-Informed Practices
Address the whole child using data-informed practices, gain valuable insights, and learn strategies that can benefit your district.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
ChatGPT & Education: 8 Ways AI Improves Student Outcomes
Revolutionize student success! Don't miss our expert-led webinar demonstrating practical ways AI tools will elevate learning experiences.
Content provided by Inzata

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management School Counselors Face 'Role Ambiguity.' This State Tried to Clarify Matters
New York's new regulations didn't always change how principals viewed or interacted with school counselors, research finds.
5 min read
Man trapped in maze.
Man trapped in maze.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Women of Color Bring Special Strengths to the Superintendency, New Research Suggests
They have deep expertise in instructional leadership and a facility for working with stakeholders and managing thorny social issues.
4 min read
Image of diverse faces.
School & District Management 3 Principles to Help School and District Leaders Build Better Relationships With Teachers
Communication, capacity building, and a willingness to fail are key tenets of relationship-building, school and district leaders say.
2 min read
051223 Lead Sym Alyson 2 jb BS
Chris Ferenzi for Education Week
School & District Management This Principal Says It's Critical to Infuse Students' and Teachers' Days With Joy
Part of a school leader's role is to guard against outside distractions so teachers can focus on kids, says Salome Thomas-EL.
2 min read
051223 Lead Sym Caitlynn jb BS
Chris Ferenzi for Education Week