OLYMPIA — April 20, 2017 — Today is my 100th day in office as our state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, and what an absolute honor it has been to serve the State of Washington in this capacity.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is full of remarkable professionals who are truly embracing the change that comes with new leadership, and they are incredibly focused on the success of students, educators, policymakers, and communities. Working with them every day is an immense privilege.
I am very proud of our reorganization of the agency cabinet, OSPI’s primary governance board. We took a cabinet that was just 11 percent members of color and 17 percent female, and we transformed it into a team that is 30 percent members of color and 55 percent female. The students in our state are becoming more and more diverse, and our administration absolutely must reflect that diversity. Every decision made at OSPI must have an equity lens to it.
Prior to taking office, I announced that Washington state would delay submission of our federal education accountability plan required under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Delaying the plan’s submission allows for more time to engage all partners and stakeholders, including those who have not had a seat at the table in the past, and align our plan with outcomes of this legislative session. I don’t want us to rush through a plan that will shape education accountability and outcomes in our state for decades to come!
Immediately after I was sworn into office, I directed agency lawyers to drop OSPI’s involvement in the lawsuit against local school districts for using local levy dollars to fund employee compensation. OSPI is focused on supporting local districts.
Additionally, since taking office I have streamlined and collapsed two units at OSPI to better align our learning and teaching efforts, stood up for our students’ civil rights, empowered our program and policy leaders in the legislative process, continued my learning tour across the state, teamed up to completely fund Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exam fees for low-income students, started a conversation to eliminate confusion over OSPI and the State Board of Education’s roles, created a much-needed Human Resources position focused on equity, supported the Voting Rights Act as an agency, and have been assisting all four legislative caucuses with their data and policy interests.
I am absolutely dedicated to ensuring every single child in Washington receives a world-class education. For that to happen, we need policymakers who view OSPI as a resource, and we need OSPI employees who are empowered in their work to do great things for students and school districts.
My first 100 days in office have been exhilarating. We’ve tried to create a culture of positive change as a normal function of our work, but we still have much work to do! We must keep pushing to fully fund our schools, open up more pathways to a high school diploma, increase graduation rates, close opportunity gaps, make our assessments meaningful again, and ensure every student is truly prepared for career, college, and life.
I’m so excited to be on this journey, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Washington state. There is no greater honor than public service that aims to empower our kids. What a gift!
A list of the major accomplishments and changes from our team’s first 100 days is available on the OSPI website.