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March 2002
Annual Meeting - April 27, 2000
Vote Count
Evening with Mayor Harry Kim
East Hawaii Meeting
West Hawaii Activities
Proposed Budget 2002-2003
Can the state of Hawaii afford costs of casino gaming? (Joanne Ralston)
Remarks by Mary Anne Raywid, Ph.D. (Mary Anne Raywid)

Remarks by Mary Anne Raywid, Ph.D.

LWV Meeting on Hawaii's Schools
Saturday, December 1, 2001 Koa House Grill, Waimea

(This report was written by Dorothy Doudna, from notes by Mary Stuart and Susan Irvine. We had asked Dr. Raywid to report to us on the quality and problems of public education, K - 12, here in Hawaii. She preferred to conduct the session informally, with questions coming from the audience, hence the somewhat fragmentary nature of this report.)

The drop-out rate here in Hawaii is unacceptably high. The D.O.E. only reports the rate for high school students - 19%, whereas, if middle school students who dropped out were included, the figure would be more like 30%!

Le Mahieu did accomplish some good things while he was here, but he got on the wrong side of the Governor early on, and "humility was not his strong suit." Given extraordinary powers by Judge Ezra, he made a mistake and was quickly sacked.

Research over the past 20 years concludes that students do much better in small schools. [A University of Minnesota study released in September, 2001 concluded, "smaller programs, 400 students or fewer, can be cost-effective and do a better job with students."] Hawaii has the fourth highest average school size in the nation. The violence in Hawaii's schools is due to the large size of schools. Half of our schools are "Title 1" schools, meeting federal guidelines because of the large percentage of students under the poverty level. The negative effects of poverty are halved in small schools, those having 400 or less students.

There needs to be fundamental change in the governance structure regarding education in Hawaii. No change is possible without this and it will take constitutional change to do it. The power of principals needs to be reduced and they should not be tenured. One good thing that came out of Le Mahieu's leadership is the establishment of standards of performance for each grade level.

Now that we have these standards, we can decentralize. (It will not be easy to accomplish; the unions oppose decentralization.) Decentralization is certainly not the whole solution, however. Teacher morale is poor. Why is this? (The reader may provide answers; certainly the heavy bureaucratic machinery of the D.O.E. is part of it.) Raywid says we have many fine teachers in Hawaii. More tests are not the answer; teachers are not "goofing off."

But – "Hawaii is the most control-oriented place I ever saw." When Raywid was asked "What one thing would do the most to improve public education in Hawaii?", she replied, "Get rid of the D.O.E.!"

Mary Anne Raywid

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