B24-80, DC State Education Agency Independence Amendment Act of 2021 B24-101, Office of the State Superintendent of Education Independence Amendment Act of 2021

Community Organizer

Kyle Myers

Democrats for Education Reform DC

Committee of the Whole’s Public Hearing:

Good morning. My name is Kyle Myers. I am a Ward 5 resident and a fifth-generation Washingtonian. I am writing this testimony on behalf of Democrats for Education Reform DC (DFER DC). I am testifying in opposition to B24-80, the DC State Education Agency Independence Amendment Act of 2021 and B24-101, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education Independence Amendment Act of 2021. 

Today, I will be discussing the importance of keeping oversight and management control of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) with the Mayor. It is the best option to ensure our students’ success and to continue improving our public education system. The Mayor should be required to support the work of OSSE and be held accountable for its operations. The Mayor has the authority to provide the necessary support, resources, and connections OSSE needs to achieve our ultimate goal of improving the DC public education system. With the Mayor as a central pipeline between all agencies, it is easier to get things done in a coordinated way. We need all education-related District agencies working together to help provide the best support for student outcomes.

Making OSSE “independent” would make it challenging to hold OSSE accountable for its actions. The elected members of the DC Council already have oversight of the OSSE. If the DC Council and the DC State Board of Education had oversight of OSSE, it would hamper the agency’s ability to work efficiently and make every decision it makes subject to a vote. 

There has been much-needed progress in DC schools over the last two decades. Enrollment has increased by 22%. High school graduation rates have increased from 58% to 70%. Students have consistently improved on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly called the Nation’s Report Card. And more programs have been created to better accommodate the needs of students and prepare them for the next level of education. The Mayor and the DC Council must build on these improvements by continuing education reform, and not setting the District back. There are more pressing issues that merit response. Increasing funding for “at-risk” students, providing more school based mental health support to students, ensuring safe passage to and from school, and raising the literacy levels of our students by requiring teachers to be taught in structured literacy are some prime examples. We need to keep in mind that we should be making the best decisions for our students, not for the adults. 

We need to ensure we are doing what’s in the best interest of students and making our public education system more equitable and efficient with every decision made. Thank you for allowing me to testify on this important topic.