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DC Agenda
Governance Task Force for Effective Public Education
December 1999




Dorothy Brizill
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The Governance Task Force for Effective Public Education was created September 1999 to produce timely and useful recommendations to the citizens and public officials of the District of Columbia regarding a new school governance model for the city. The Task Force was formed in response to encouragement by key civic leaders who feared a loss of recent gains in education reforms and student achievement due to the return of power to the Board of Education, June 2000.

Under the leadership of co-conveners Charles Miller, Covington & Burling, Pauline Schneider, Hunton & Williams, and Wendy Puriefoy, Public Education Network, two information sessions were convened. They included: "Setting the Stage and Exploring the Ideas and Issues: An Overview of Education Reform and Implications for Governance;" "Experience of Cities Where School Governance is Working and Implications for the District". The final two sessions: "Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations: Debating Solutions" and "Striving for Consensus: Deliberations on Governance Issues and Options" were used for deliberation and consensus building.

Over 100 leaders from all sectors of the city participated in the Task Force Sessions. The two-hour forum sessions featured presentations from the Superintendent of DC Public Schools, other local public officials, local and national experts regarding the origins of school governance in Washington and options for their correction. This is the only forum that has brought together a broad cross section of business, neighborhood, civic and education reform leaders with high-level representatives of the District government, legislative branch, and the Financial Control Authority to examine critical issues, research and legislative initiatives related to a new approach to school governance. Beyond the membership of the Task Force, the information from the sessions will be extended to the broader community via airing on DC cable television, channel 25 and 26. Video-tapes will be available for schools and civic groups, February 2000.

Several key documents have resulted from this process: (1) Five Background and Briefing reports; (2) Summary Highlights of each forum; and (3) Task Force Recommendations presented by the co- conveners November 29 before the City Council Committee on Education, Recreation and Libraries. The Task Force hopes its work will help to produce legislative and Charter changes required to create a supportive policy and funding environment and an engaged citizenry to sustain education reform and increase student achievement overtime.

DC Agenda and the Federal City Council were joined by several key civic, business, labor and education organizations in sponsoring the Task Force. Decisions reached and a list of organizations is attached. Research and analysis was provided to the Task Force by faculty and graduate students from the DC Community Policy Forum of the Georgetown University Graduate Public Policy Institute and the Center for Research and Urban Policy of the University of the District of Columbia. For background papers, go to Georgetown University's web page http://www.georgetown.edu/.   Summary highlights of the forums and Questions and Answers may be found on DC Agenda's web page: www.dcagenda.org beginning December 29. For general information, contact DC Agenda or the Federal City Council.

Governance Task Force for Effective Public Education

Along with DC Agenda and the Federal City Council, the organizations that have been active include:

  1. The Business Alliance
  2. DC Chamber of Commerce
  4. DC Public Charter School Resource Center
  5. Federation of Citizens Association
  6. Greater Washington Board of Trade
  7. League of Women Voters
  8. Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO
  9. Parents United
  10. Washington Teachers Union
  11. Washington Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights
  12. Consortium of Universities

During Task Force proceedings, consensus or a majority position was achieved on the following elements of a school governance model for the District:

  • Size of the Board. Virtual unanimity for a smaller board - 7 favored
  • Selection of the Board. Combination elected and appointed
  • Relationship of Board and Superintendent. Policy vs. operations memoralized in an agreement but not subject to Council review and approval
  • Transition/Public Endorsement. Initiate new system January 2001
    Formally review through voter referendum Spring 2004
  • State Education Office. Limited technical and administrative functions in Mayor's office
  • Charter of Public Charter Schools. Chartering authority removed from Board of Education
  • Even/Off Year Elections. Off year election focus on public education issues

December 1999

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