Hanseul Kang, D.C.?s state superintendent for education, to join The Broad Center

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) appointed Kang as superintendent in 2015, and she has served alongside three chancellors and two deputy mayors for education.

Bowser said she will launch a nationwide search for a replacement.

The state superintendent’s office is the District’s equivalent of a state education department. It is the liaison between the federal Education Department and the city, and has a range of responsibilities. Those include administering standardized exams, overseeing early-childhood education programs and providing transportation for special-education students.

Kang is credited with improving the reputation and credibility of a hard-to-define agency that residents often know little about. She boosted early-childhood education offerings and made some data about schools more accessible to families.

“There has been continued progress in student achievement and outcomes,” Kang said of her tenure. “We have seen that progress in student assessments.”

Kang was responsible for creating the DC School Report Card, a one-stop shop where families can easily look up data for traditional public and charter schools online. It also ranks schools using a five-star system.

Critics have slammed the District’s ranking system for relying too heavily on test scores, which they say disadvantage neighborhood schools that serve the highest concentrations of students from low-income families.

In 2018, Kang oversaw a high-profile investigation into alleged residency fraud at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, accusing more than 100 students of living outside the city and illegally attending the school. But ultimately the city found little wrongdoing.

Under Kang, early-childhood options for the city’s youngest learners expanded. She made the District one of the first places in the nation to require day-care workers to get higher-education degrees under a rule that has not yet gone into full effect.

“D.C. has been squarely focused on how we can close the gap between different groups of students,” Kang said. “Our goal was to improve the quality of early-childhood education . . . and we know that teachers are important for that work.” 

The Broad Academy, which has been funded by charter school backer Eli Broad, recently moved from Los Angeles to be part of Yale’s School of Management.

Bowser has come under criticism from backers of the traditional public school system for choosing leaders who have received training from the Broad Academy, which is viewed as boosting charter schools. Kang, D.C. Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee and Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn have all attended the academy.

Kerwin Charles, dean of Yale’s School of Management, said that the new center will not be ideological and that, under Kang’s leadership, the program will use rigorous research to guide its thinking. He said he was drawn to Kang’s work in helping students from all backgrounds succeed in classrooms.

Kang previously served as chief of staff for the Tennessee Department of Education and as a managing director of program in Teach for America’s D.C. regional office.

“We are not and will not be organized around some kind of ideological advocacies,” Charles said in an interview. “On this matter and on every matter of importance, Superintendent Kang and I are in lockstep agreement.”

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