Joe was sworn in as the Ward 6 representative to the State Board of Education on January 2, 2015. As your Ward 6 representative, Joe has worked tirelessly to help move us toward realizing our community’s shared vision for public schools.
I have led, with my colleagues on the State Board, efforts to strengthen policy overseen by the State Board of Education in debates around federal accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act, to strengthen our city’s residency regulations, and to reform our graduation requirements. I have also lent my voice to larger efforts to improve our school systems, including calling for the renovation of outdated facilities, protecting students from the dangers of lead in their drinking water, and for an increased focus on closing the achievement gaps. I have led calls for additional reforms to improve the transparency and accountability of our school systems. And, I have helped problem-solve alongside leaders at the school level.
As your State Board representative I have helped strengthen our public schools by:
Advocating to Close the Equity and Achievement Gaps.
I have long been troubled by our city’s persistent and growing achievement gaps as well as the misuse of our city's "at-risk" funding. While other city leaders were touting our city’s accomplishments, I sought to raise awareness that we are leaving too many behind. I published the following articles District’s achievement gap and How can we close DC’s persistent achievement gap? to draw more attention to these critical issues and have led calls for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to redefine how it classifies “economically disadvantaged” students to ensure more transparency and accountability. I led calls on the Board for an independent investigation into the city's graduation crisis.
Over the past four years, the Board adopted regulations to reform our graduation requirements, allowing for increased credit flexibility and allowing students to test out of requirements in math and world languages. The Board has also empowered students by granting a State Diploma to students who obtain their G.E.D. Working with parents, we have sought to promote equity across our schools, highlighting concerns that the city's At-Risk dollars are not following our students.
Ensuring Public Dollars for DC Residents.
During my 2014 election, I called for the city to improve the regulations governing residency, and I helped lead an effort to update the regulations governing residency verification while ensuring homeless and other vulnerable populations are protected and included in our schools. Our work helps to ensure that District residents have access to available space at local schools, and that when extra space is available, non-resident students are permitted to enroll if they pay non-resident tuition.
Enhancing Accountability Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
ESSA created an important opportunity for DC to expand upon our efforts to improve schools, support educators, and share transparent and comparable information about District of Columbia public schools. The plan, adopted by the Board, establishes as common system of school transparency, called the STAR Framework, for all public schools in DC and affirms the important role that school environment factors play in increasing student achievement. Through my service on the Board’s ESSA Taskforce, I have continued to ensure broad community engagement in the Board’s work around ESSA in the development of the District’s State Report Card advocating for additional information on teacher turnover to be included on the District's Report Card.
Improving Transparency and Accountability of our Public School Systems.
The District’s governance system is unique. The mayor names all three major education leaders: the chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, the deputy mayor for education and the superintendent of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). The mayor also appoints, with the advice and consent of the DC Council, the seven members of the Public Charter School Board. I don’t support ending mayoral control of our school systems; however, I do support other reforms to improve transparency and accountability, including:
The establishment of an independent research collaborative to research priority topics and provide ongoing information about our school systems to policy-makers, helping to inform our decision-making.
Independence for our state educational agency (OSSE). The D.C. Council should consider how to move OSSE out from under the mayor, giving the agency the political independence that state education agencies have in other jurisdictions.
Additionally, I support additional measures to grant the Board the authority we need to effectively do our work, including the ability to initiate policy and regulatory actions and the authority to require other city agency to respond to inquiries for information from the Board.