The D.C. State Board of Education is the only independent education agency with elected representatives. Board members’ terms are four years and are staggered so no more than five board members are selected in any one election. As we welcome our new State Board members, we would like to recognize and thank our outgoing members. Their contributions to the State Board have helped shape public education in the District for the better, and we are incredibly thankful for that. Below you will find remarks from each of the outgoing State Board members about their time on the State Board.
Farewell to Outgoing Board Members
Jack Jacobson Ward 2
Jack Jacobson was first elected in 2012 and reelected in 2016 to represent Ward 2. He served as President of the State Board in 2015 and 2016, Vice President in 2017 and 2018, and as chair of numerous committees created by the State Board to improve education in the District of Columbia. His leadership on the State Board saw the adoption of new Health Education Standards that address bullying, addiction, sexual and mental health issues and provide students with a framework for building the skills they need to be healthy for the rest of their lives. Additionally, under his leadership, the State Board established new policies and procedures, hired additional staff and strived for transparency in its work, helping to create a robust and independent agency that represents all District residents. Before his election to the State Board, Jack had served on the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
“As I look back on my last 13 years of elected service to the District, I’m filled with gratitude. Gratitude to the voters that placed their trust in me, gratitude to the staff and colleagues I’ve had the opportunity to learn from, and gratitude to the District of Columbia, which afforded me the chance to make a difference for our students and in the future of this great city.”
Karen Williams, a native Washingtonian and graduate of Ballou Senior High School, was first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016 as Ward 7’s representative. She served as President of the State Board in 2017 and 2018 and Vice President in 2015 and 2016, and reformed the agency’s administrative functions and hiring procedures, successfully hiring its first Executive Director, Ombudsman for Public Education and Chief Student Advocate. Karen’s leadership on the State Board saw the adoption of the first statewide accountability system that allows parents to compare schools across sectors easily and the adoption of credit flexibility regulations and shepherding the creation of a State Diploma for students completing the GED or NEDP programs, opening many opportunities for adult students. Karen is a former special education teacher in DC Public Schools (DCPS) and has also previously worked with the Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and the Washington Parent Fund Group as an executive assistant and grant administrator.
“It has been a great honor serving on the State Board as a member, as Vice President and as President. Through my eight years on the State Board, we approved new education standards that students were deeply involved in creating about subjects they said were important, approved a State Diploma so that finally adult students could be recognized as equals to their younger peers. Elected office was never in my plans when I was growing up in Ward 7. Most of you know, that I have lived in Washington my entire life. This city is more than a place to me, it is home, and I am deeply grateful to the residents who entrusted me with service on the State Board.”
Ashley MacLeay took office in 2017 as the State Board’s At-Large Representative. Ashley has served as the State Board’s representative on the Every Day Counts! Task Force, led by the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Education, that brings together all agencies involved in student supports and attendance related issues. Additionally, she has served as a member of the advisory council for the Washington Literacy Center and has endeavored to use her seat on the State Board to promote literacy initiatives across the District.
“As I reflect upon my term in office, I think about the opportunity I had to make a difference in the lives of others and be a role model in the eyes of young women thinking about running for office in their own communities. Change starts at home and I’m elated to see more women running for office, serving in office, and adding their much-needed opinion on the issues affecting our towns, cities, states, and nation today.”
Markus Batchelor was first elected to the State Board in November 2016 and took office in January 2017 as Ward 8’s representative. Prior to his election to the Board, Markus served as the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for District 8C04 and had previously served as a liaison to Ward 8 with the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services. Markus is the youngest-ever elected member of the Board and is a native Washingtonian, being a student at Martin Luther King Elementary School, Hardy Middle School and Thurgood Marshall Academy. He was elected twice as Vice President for the State Board in 2019 and 2020 and has been one of the State Board’s leading voices for increasing support for community schools, safe passage, police-free schools, physical and mental health, culturally responsive and anti-racist education, and efforts to improve teacher retention.
“My last D.C. State Board of Education meeting is over. With all my heart, I want to thank my Ward 8 neighbors for taking a chance on a kid from Congress Heights wanting to fight for our community. Thanks to my colleagues for your support, and allowing me to serve twice as VP. It’s been an honor. A special thanks to all of the educators, families, students, and concerned community members who leaned into this work with me over the last 4 years — making our government & our system more responsive and more equitable. There’s much more work to do, and I’ll be there beside you.”
We are truly grateful to these outgoing members who have worked tirelessly to support all students, teachers, and families in D.C. Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on the new State Board members!