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Ed Knows Policy

EKP -- a local (Washington, DC) and national blog about education policy, politics, and research.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

State Education Agencies: What do they do?

I am trying to figure out which candidate I will vote for for Mayor of DC. There is a strong feeling that the outgoing Mayor Anthony Williams has made a lot of progress on economic development, but his successor will have as Job One improving the city's education system. Given that this race is pretty much all about education, or should be, it's interesting that only the two frontrunners Fenty and Cropp have articulated concrete edupolicies.

What does this have to do with the title of my post? Click continue...

The next Mayor, if he/she does not take over the public schools outright (a risky proposition), he/she should strongthen the state education office to serve as counterweight to the DC Public Schools (DCPS). Clearly, there is momentum to move in this direction.

Either Mayor Fenty or Mayor Cropp, whichever it is, as a soon-to-be former member of the Council, can use that experience to get full legislative support behind a strong city government role in education that transcends the traditional public sector. We have a vibrant charter school movement that is educating a quarter of the District's children. We have a voucher program (foisted on us by out-of-state Republicans in collusion with Mayor Williams) that brings a host of private schools into the regulatory fold by putting them on the public payroll.

So what should the state role be?
1. Distribute federal funds. Mundane, but important.
2. Regulate traditional public and charter schools. NCLB compliance, etc. The State Education Office (SEO), can work with other sister city agencies like DCRA to more efficiently coordinate oversight.
3. Research and evaluation.
4. Create a centralized parent information center and centralize the school admissions process. This means have a single application and lottery, perhaps in two rounds, but coordinated with one application and a single notification process.

What else? Do any readers of this blog want to lend their ideas?


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