School & District Management

Office Overseeing D.C. Performance in State of Change

By Catherine Gewertz — October 16, 2007 1 min read

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

Events

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.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education
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.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Strategies & Tips for Complex Decision-Making
Schools are working through the most disruptive period in the history of modern education, facing a pandemic, economic problems, social justice issues, and rapid technological change all at once. But even after the pandemic ends,

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 Cash for Shots? Districts Take New Tacks to Boost Teacher Vaccinations
In order to get more school staff vaccinated, some district leaders are tempting them with raffles, jeans passes, and cash.
8 min read
Illustration of syringe tied to stick
Getty
School & District Management National Teachers' Union President: Schools Must Reopen 5 Days a Week This Fall
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten wants five days a week of in-person school next fall.
4 min read
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, talks during a news conference in front of the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching on Sept. 8, 2020.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, talks during a news conference in front of the Richard R. Green High School of Teaching on Sept. 8, 2020.
Mark Lennihan/AP
School & District Management Principals and Stress: Strategies for Coping in Difficult Times
Running schools in the pandemic has strained leaders in unprecedented ways. Principals share their ideas for how to manage the stress.
6 min read
Illustration of calm woman working at desk
Getty
School & District Management Wanted: Superintendents to Lead Districts Through the End of a Pandemic
Former superintendents say there are signs when it's time to move on. Their replacements are more likely to be greenhorns, experts say.
4 min read
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner speaks at a news conference at the school district headquarters in Los Angeles on March 13, 2020. Beutner will step down as superintendent after his contract ends in June, he announced Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
Austin Beutner, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified, will step down after his contract ends in June.
Damian Dovarganes/AP