Dare we see hope in Hawai’i schools?

The Hawai’i team that’s in Washington, D.C., today pitching for up to $75 million in Race to the Top funds represents a promising commitment to improving our struggling public schools.

The group includes top Department of Education officials and representatives of the Hawai’i State Teachers Association, Kamehameha Schools, and through the Hawai’i P-20 initiative, the University of Hawai’i and state preschools.

They’re pledging a top-to-bottom reshaping of our schools to overcome decades of frustration in bringing student achievement up to the highest national standards. One key is better tracking of student progress.

“This reform is going to touch every classroom and every student in the entire state,” said Tammi Chun of the P-20 initiative.

Chun said Race to the Top, incentives structured by the Obama administration  to turn around poor-performing schools and better prepare the nation’s children for successful lives, provided what has long been needed in Hawai’i — “an opportunity to look at all of it (the schools system) at once and do a major transformation.”

Hawai’i is one of 19 finalists, with up to 12 states expected to get grants.

Whether we win funding or not, getting stakeholders on the same page has been an achievement in itself. The challenge will be keeping everybody on board — especially the unions — as the plan is executed and tougher standards are put in place.

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13 Comments on “Dare we see hope in Hawai’i schools?”

  1. Richard Gozinya Says:

    There are 12 awards and 10 finalists? That sounds like a lock to me.

    I hope so, although I got to say that $75 million is small beer compared to the multi-billion dollar morass known as our local education system. What’s an extra 3% when distributed on a reform targeted from “top to bottom”?

  2. charles Says:

    There are 19 finalists and possibly 12 awards.

    Read the article.

  3. WooWoo Says:

    Elect four people from the state of Hawaii to represent Hawaii in Congress.

    These people pass federal taxes and fund a national department of education.

    Find five more people from Hawaii, and send them to DC to try and get the money back.

    Why not just leave the money here in the first place?

  4. David Shapiro Says:

    @Richard To me, the more important thing than the money is getting focused and getting everybody behind a plan, which shows signs of starting to happen here.

  5. Guido Sarducci Says:

    These same D0E/B0E/HSTA forces were all on board to create “Furlough Fridays”. This is just a new money chase for them. Nothing more.

  6. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    Isn’t it funny that $75 million seems like small beer. I recognize Richard’s point yet $75M would have covered most of the furloughs last year.

    I’m in agreement with David though. The money is the carrot to encourage needed reforms. There are some excellent ideas in the Race to the Top program.

    With all the chaos last year, test scores actually improved slightly. I attribute this to the Hawthorne experimental effects – studying people while they work increases productivity regardless of the intervention.

    Let’s keep pushing … stay focused on improving DOE/BOE efficiency; remain diligent with our principals and teachers; keep encouraging our keiki to give their best each day; and, parents, please do your part!


  7. Michael Says:

    swim with the union.
    Clinging remoras
    and while walking through quicksand of our economy,
    they stick like leaches.

    Hope there is no hurricane and that we don’t
    need the loan from First Hawaiian Bank. Money loaned with French interest.

    65 million plus 75 million equals 130 million
    and school hasn’t really started for all yet.
    I think we really need a major overhaul on our budget.
    An audit to find where our money is being wasted.

    I also feel that the governor should not be the only one to decide BOE or DOE or whatever board is needed.
    “Crimson Tide”. Again let the people vote.

  8. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    Woohoo!!! CNN reported, the House voted 247-161 today, with support from the Democrats and overwhelming rejection from the Republicans, to send $16.1 billion in Medicaid money and $10 billion to prevent layoffs of teachers and first responders. Hawai’i is expected to receive some $130 MILLION.

    Without federal financial help, it is estimated there would have been a loss of nearly 900,000 jobs nationally, including spillover losses in the private sector.

    StarAd pointed out today, Republican Rep. Charles Djou said he opposed the stimulus principally because of its impact on the nation’s annual budget deficit and its long-term debt. Yet Djou hypocritically supports extending the Bush 2001/2003 tax cuts for the MOST RICH that would add some $700 BILLION to our long-term debt.

    Let’s recap:

    + Spending $10B for teachers; $16.1B for Medicaid – BAD in Djou’s calculus.
    + Borrowing $700B for America’s MOST RICH – GOOD in Djou’s eyes.

    StarAd quotes Djou, “There’s a lot of things that we need to do in the United States Congress, but spending a lot more money isn’t one of them.” I would say spending $700B without a way to pay for it is a LOT OF MONEY, Charles!

    The reality is today’s $26.1B measure is FULLY financed and will not add to the deficit or national debt since the revenue comes, in part, by CLOSING tax loopholes that ENCOURAGE corporations to ship American jobs overseas.

    This is why betting on Republicans is a bad idea. They have made it their mission to ensure Obama fails – even though his failure will collapse our economy and hurt ALL of us.

    Democracy is a wonderful blessing. Yet there are rules to this political game that participants must accept if we want to continue.

    First, we venture down the road of democracy because the alternatives – war or autocratic rule – are humanly unacceptable.

    Second, we must act responsibly and maturely. This means we should encourage vigorous debate and robust competition in campaign races and over ideas – yet once an election is over, it is incumbent on participants to shake hands and commit to working together.

    Third, participants must check their egos. Democracy does not work if EVERYONE believes they are right. The truth is none of us can predict the future. A war may be a good idea; it may be disastrous. An economic stimulus package may work; it may fail. We won’t know until we try.

    We have many pressing challenges. Most of us voted for Barack Obama because he pledged to reach across the isle and work in a bipartisan fashion. Yet this political courtesy is not being reciprocated. As we witnessed with the health insurance reform effort, the Recovery Act, and this latest measure, Republicans are locking down – voting unanimously against all measures.

    Therefore, they are claiming they KNOW what is best for our nation. How then did we get locked into two wars and end up with a collapsed economy? This is the disconnect in their myopic view of the world.

    Yesterday, “ppcc” made a weak case for the impending doom of Democrats by citing a telephone survey by Gallup. The general statistics suggested more respondents disapprove than approve of Obama and his policies.

    While telephone polls are somewhat suspect, looking at the breakdowns by party affiliation shows some interesting results:

    Democrats: 2008 exit polls showed 89% of liberals voted for Obama; Gallup suggests this has slipped to 74% – a decline of 15%.

    Independents: 2008 exit polls showed about 60% voted for Obama; Gallup suggests this has slipped to 54% – a decline of 6%.

    Republicans: 2008 exit polls showed about 20% of conservatives voted for Obama. Gallup suggests this percentage is now 24% – an increase of 4%.

    President Obama has worked so hard to “reach across the isle” that he has lost a significant portion of HIS base. Conservative voters have appreciated his efforts – yet Republican leaders refuse to accompany the band. They allow their “we’re right” egos to put Americans in harm’s way and it’s time for this to end.

    There are no Red States; there are no Blue States; we are and must be the United States.


  9. mad monk Says:

    My concern is we will just get another “reinventing education” bill which will rearrange a little of the furniture, but do nothing to really improve our schools. And another decade will be wasted…10 more years of high school graduates will receive substandard educations, and Hawaii will stay at(or near) the bottom of the states in educational quality.
    In the past, neither the DoE nor teacher’s union (nor their puppets in the state legislature) have shown any interest in significantly improving eduction. What would make anyone believe they suddenly have a change of heart?
    I’d love to see substantially improved schools…but I’d be willing to bet (if it were legal to bet) there will be no substantial improvement from the (educational) powers that be.

  10. Michael Says:

    Go Non-union.
    Teachers can save on union dues.

  11. shaftalley Says:

    the fed bail-out for public education will probably be used to prop up the teachers’ state pension plan.

  12. ppcc Says:

    from mad monk:
    “My concern is we will just get another “reinventing education” bill which will rearrange a little of the furniture, but do nothing to really improve our schools.”

    Agreed, even if the DOE wins 100 million dollars, all they will be doing is rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic and public school children will still receive a substandard educational experience. As others have mentioned, the same clowns that forced student furloughs will only use the money for make work projects or other special interest initiatives that will do squat for the children. HOWEVER, on the plus side if they do receive the money, they can now rearrange their budget so they can afford to pay the Superintendent of Education $200,000, give the rest of the DOE executive massive pay raises AND have enough money for another Disney World junket for teachers, board of education members and DOE executives! Just in time as Disney World has now raised their daily adult admission rate to $82!

  13. shaftalley Says:

    i have no way of knowing,but the more i think about it,the HSTA pension plan is probably doing well and hopefully the plan is fully funded.why is the federal bail-out necessary? the hawaii boe/doe couldn’t keep to a budget.the problem will never go away because the state constitution requires us to maintain government schools.so what is the solution.one solution is for parents to save up enough money tp pay for their children to attend private schools.and kids qualifyingfor scholarships and student loans.hopefully students will have enough sense not to accept any government loans.

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