For D.C. State Board of Education

Monday, October 25, 2010

THE DISTRICT'S State Board of Education needs steady leaders who understand their limited but crucial role in helping to set education policy.

The city's two educational leaders, D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and State Schools Superintendent Kerri Briggs, have resigned 3 1/2 years into mayoral control of the schools and a reordering of the school board's responsibilities. Instead of providing oversight of the public schools, the nine-member board now sets state academic standards that govern both traditional and charter schools. These standards include high school graduation requirements, policies for parental involvement and an accountability plan for enforcing No Child Left Behind compliance.

Four seats are on the ballot in nonpartisan contests Nov. 2. Laura M. Slover, a vice president of the education reform nonprofit Achieve, is running unopposed in Ward 3. She's been a smart and able member of the board.

In Ward 1, Patrick Mara, a consultant who made headlines when he defeated longtime D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz in the 2008 Republican primary, is mounting an energetic challenge of incumbent Dotti Love Wade. There is no doubting Ms. Wade's commitment to Ward 1, but Mr. Mara has better insights into today's educational challenges. Particularly appealing is his support for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program as well as charter schools.

Ward 5 incumbent Mark Jones faces political newcomer Darlene Glymph. Mr. Jones, a small-business owner and public school parent, has been a steady and thoughtful presence on the board and deserves reelection.

Ward 6 board member Lisa Raymond's decision not to seek reelection resulted in a spirited contest between public relations consultant Melissa Rohan and Monica Warren-Jones, a nonprofit housing finance professional. Both are active in their communities, with good insights into the issues facing schools and their students. The edge, though, goes to Ms. Warren-Jones, with her more realistic sense of the state school board's mission and her advocacy of high standards and best practices.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company