Winter 2006 Home   Newsletters

Spring 2007

May 2007

President's Message (Sue Irvine)
State Convention on April 28 (JoAnn Maruoka)
Sunshine Week 2007: March 11-17 (Carol Bain)
League Stand on Education Bills (Mary Anne Raywid)
Candidates for 2007 State Board
At the Legislature (Jean Aoki)
LWV-Hawaii Budget 2007-2008 (Jackie Parnell)
DC Voting Rights Fact Sheet
Chapter Reports - Hawaii (Marianna Scheffer)
Chapter Reports - Honolulu (Piilani Kaopuiki)
Chapter Reports - Kauai (Carol Bain)
Hawaii Coalition against Legalized Gambling (Grace Furukawa)

League Stand on Education Bills

There have been the usual large number of education bills this year, but the League testified on only four. We opposed several bills proposing to make Board of Education members salaried officials -- on the grounds that this role is, by tradition, a non-salaried one fulfilled by citizens who volunteer to do so. (Actually, there are several mainland cities where board members receive salaries -- New York and Washington being two; but in general, the tradition remains intact. In Hawaii, BOE members receive $100 for each meeting attended -- committee meetings, as well as full Board meetings.)

We testified in favor of a bill to promote and provide resources for civic education (H.B. 1522), noting our pleasure that it did not include mandates. (This year's education bills once again made clear that in Hawaii, the Legislature is the supra-board of education, and micromanagement is a recurring temptation.)

There were four or five charter school bills. Since the League Education Committee had agreed to focus on greater autonomy for charter schools this session, I examined all relevant bills rather carefully. Several (presumably either the Governor's or those of Republican legislators) called for what would have been radical changes indeed in the governance of these schools, taking their control totally out of the hands of the Board of Education (e.g., S.B. 1432). As good an idea as this may seem to many, it is unconstitutional in Hawaii and for that reason alone would have virtually no chance of passing. (As it happened, this bill was never even heard.)

The League Education Committee testified in support of the two bills that seemed to have the greatest chance of passing, S.B. 603 and its House counterpart, H.B. 594. Both turned out to be unusually dramatic and exciting sessions. Immediately following my testimony in both, Board of Education member Cec Heftel was called upon, and he also spoke in support of the bill. He made it clear that he was testifying as an individual, however, and counter to what had been the vote of a large majority of Board members to oppose the bill -- and then he spoke of the difficulties of charter schools in dealing with the BOE. It was an extraordinarily open and courageous statement. When he finished, a number of those present (but clearly not all) broke into spontaneous applause -- something rarely heard in legislative hearings. These bills are still alive but have been greatly watered down.

Mary Anne Raywid, Chair,
Education Committee

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