By Jenny Abamu
Members of the D.C. Council are challenging Mayor Muriel Bowser’s control of schools.
Council Member David Grosso (I-At Large) is introducing a bill that would make the Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) an independent agency outside of the mayor’s office. OSSE currently oversees federal funding, enrollment, and education standards for D.C. Public Schools.
The bill would also extend the term of the superintendent from four years to six and it would only allow the superintendent to be fired with just cause. Currently, the mayor can hire and fire the superintendent at will. The legislation further gives OSSE the authority to hire all of its personnel, rather than allow the mayor’s office to fill certain positions.
“What we are trying to do is remove politics from education policy as much as we can while still supporting the mayoral control of [D.C. public school’s] work,” Grosso says. “We are trying to give another objective agency the power it needs when it comes to oversight of all these critical and important areas.”
Representatives from the mayor’s office say they don’t support the legislation. “The students of the District of Columbia can ill afford misguided education legislation that moves our city backwards more than a decade and undermines the hard work of our teachers, administrators and staff,” says Interim Deputy Mayor for Education Ahnna Smith in a statement. “We need to be working collaboratively in the best interest of our students, and ensuring that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education and our schools have the resources they need to make every day count.”