Winter 2001 Home   Newsletters

Spring 2002

Council 2002

President's Message: Hawaii Has the Most Apathetic Voter Turnout... (Maile Bay)
Redistricting Work Done (Jean Aoki)
Support for Voting for Incarcerated Felons (Dorothy Cornell)
How it Looks for Schools in the Legislature (Mary Anne Raywid)
Invitation: Saunders Hall Dedication
One Afternoon at the Legislature (Jean Aoki)
Ice (Marian Wilkins)
Campaign Finance Reform (HCE) (Laure Dillon)
Local League News - Big Island - Kona (Marian Wilkins)
Local League News - Big Island - Hilo (Alberta Lindsay)
Local League News - Honolulu (Pearl Johnson)
Local League News - Kauai (Carol Bain)
Lunch 'n' Learn the Law
Council Meeting May 18

How it Looks for Schools in the Legislature

As of early March, it looked as though a major school governance change would probably be passed by the Legislature during this session. Now it seems less clear.

When it appeared that this kind of action might well be taken, the League Education Committee proposed a bill, which appears to have had some influence in some quarters, but without the addressing of all of its provisions. We sought substantial devolution of authority to local school districts, a State Board of Education consisting of representatives from each of the districts, and with a reduced sphere of authority. We also sought full control of their operation by the schools, without the intrusion of the eight executive departments that now exercise control over schools. And we wanted four-year performance contracts for principals.

It appears that the main reason why things have come to a head this year is the Legislature's dissatisfaction with the Board of Education. What remains pending at this point is whether the proposal emerging from the Conference Committee will be to elect the State Board differently (as the representatives sent by local district boards) or whether to do away with it entirely (and have the Governor appoint the Superintendent). Another matter still pending is just how much authority will be devolved to the local districts. Will they remain the orders-takers from the DOE, or will they be at least semi-autonomous? And will individual schools, as distinct from districts, have any authority over the major determinants of their own operation – i.e., control of the instructional program, of budgetary allocation, and of personnel?

The sad and ironic thing about the autonomy question – with autonomy so badly needed and sought by schools throughout the state – is that the standards-based education idea Hawaii has adopted was originally proposed as a substitute for detailed control, regulation, supervision, and monitoring! The proposer (Marshall Smith, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, and Dean of Education at Stanford) reasoned that if we control schools by looking at the success rates they produce, instead of at the particular ways in which they do things, we would (1) enable the schools to perform more effectively, and thus (2) get better outcomes. Would that that seemed clear to folks in Hawaii! Here, standards instead seem to be bringing just one MORE set of mandates and regulations.

Mary Anne Raywid

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