BOE shows its (in)breeding

Part of the reason for the furlough Fridays fiasco in Hawai’i public schools was that the Board of Education acted less like the employer and more like the bargaining agent for the teachers’ union.

That apparently wasn’t good enough for the Hawaii State Teachers Association, which has former union president Roger Takabayashi running for the school board himself in the upcoming election.

If he wins, the HSTA could be able to conveniently negotiate with itself and cut out any middle men.

HSTA just signed off on a $75 million federal Race to the Top grant in which Hawai’i promised significantly tougher performance standards for teachers and students to raise our schools from the cellar of national rankings in reading and math.

But at a recent candidate forum, Takabayashi warned against raising the bar too high.

“Some of the standards I feel are very unrealistic,” he said. “I believe we have a good public school system. We are offering quality education. How come your child did not take advantage of it?”

That’s typical of the adults who feed off of our public school system — set a low bar for themselves and blame the kids for the system’s failure.

We need to break up this incestuous little arrangement by passing the constitutional amendment in November to abolish this elected Board of Education that refuses to represent the electorate.

Explore posts in the same categories: Volcanic Ash


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37 Comments on “BOE shows its (in)breeding”

  1. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Do you really think that having the Governor appoint his political cronies and stuck-in-the-box ex-bureaucrats will be any better than what we’ve got now?

    The problem with the proposed Constitutional Amendment is that Lingle vetoed the companion bill which would have set up a panel which would screen all applicants for the BOE amd submit at least two names for each seat to the governor – similar to the relatively new system set up for selecting members of the Board of Regents. The Governor would pick one for each vacancy and then the Senate would have to approve the selection.

    Without that bill, DaGov can send anyone’s name qualified or not to the Senate. Here’s the proposed new language:


    Section 2. There shall be a board of education The governor shall nominate and, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, appoint the members of the board of education, as provided by law.

    The problem lies not with an elected Board of Education but a Board without any real power. Give them taxing & spending authority and watch things improve.

    BTW – had the Legislature held a Special Session following the 2010 vetoes, the bill- HB 2375 CD1 – would have been on the agenda.

    I’ve been told that IF the Amendment passes, then the bill will be re-instroduced and passed out ASAP.

  2. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    We had better think VERY CAREFULLY before turning the BOE into a group appointed by the governor. Electing the board as currently designed gives voters a more direct line to demand accountability. I sure agree with Capitol -ist/WassupDoc on this point.

    Yet how many of you spend any serious time in our schools? WTF???

    Our keiki are not putting 100% into their educations. There are many excellent teachers; there are some who are burned out, some of poor quality as well. Yet the majority are solid performers.

    Excellent teachers have the ability to bring education to life. Poorer ones could as well if they didn’t have to spend so much time disciplining rowdy or uninterested students. Only parents can solve this.

    In addition, classes are so large that teachers must teach to the middle. If you have a class of 30 math students, five might struggle greatly, five might find the course too easy. One teacher can’t reach three groups. Thus, they teach to the middle 20.

    The system needs a lot of help; mostly by tweaking minor practices. Classes are too large, for one. There are too many distractions, for another.

    What makes me laugh is how distracted opinion leaders are as well. Rather than spend time in the schools – similar to our keiki – nobody wants to do their HOMEWORK.

    Takabayashi is correct. We have a decent system. If parents, their keiki and the public would simply do their homework, we would resolve 90% of the challenges.

    Of course, similar to keiki, we don’t want to do the hard work. Thus we continually look to blame someone else, which results in a constant chasing of our own tails …


  3. Jim Loomis Says:

    Hey, guys! For all these years, the problem has been no accountability! Everyone knows the schools aren’t doing the job, but no one can be held responsible under the current system. The Board says the legislature didn’t give us the money, the governor says the teachers’ union wouldn’t negotiate, legislators say the governor didn’t allocate the money, etc., etc. etc. The whole point of this proposed amendment is to make the state administration — and specifically the governor — accountable! If the schools aren’t cutting it, it’s the BOE’s fault and they governor appointed them! That’s accountability. Furthermore, Neil has specifically stated that his Prioity One will be public education and he will accept personal (and that means ‘political’) responsibility for improving things. Approving this amendment — not to mention electing Neil! — is essential!

  4. Nikki Heat Says:

    Furlough Fridays simply convinced me it’s time for a change– if, as the doomsayers suggest, the next Gov appoints only his “cronies” then the public KNOWS who to hold responsible for the public school shortcomings and that’s one purpose for the constitutional change. I was a latch-key kid (my parents both worked long hours and had little formal education in English themselves) and I did well in public schools thanks to good teachers and a niele counselor and family who pushed me and encouraged me (even if they couldn’t help me directly). The motley crew to be appointed “as provided by law” can’t be any worse than the current BOE of former legislators (think the former Hawaii Kai senator, the former Nuuanu Rep.), politicians in waiting (the current Maui rep., like the former one with the MLB son who went to private school, is now running for County Council on Maui, and the disgruntled former BOE chair is taking his God annointed public service to the City Council), and usual suspects (the former Cayetano and Clayton Hee aide, the former deputy head librarian, the husband of the former DOE spinmeister, retired principals, etc.).

  5. Nikki Heat Says:

    hey Dave, did you–in a left-handed way–just endorse Brian Schatz (the youngest frontrunner) for Lt. Gov. in your Volcanic Ash column?

  6. David Shapiro Says:

    @ScottG Mahalo for making my point. Blame the kids, blame the parents, but never hold accountable those who have the kids seven hours a day, 180 days a year for 13 years but can’t teach them to read or do math to a minimal level of proficiency.

    There’s no accountability to voters in the elected school board. Only 13 percent vote in those races because many are uncontested and there is little decent information available on the candidates. Half of voters leave their ballots blank in BOE races. If an appointed school board acted at the level of professionalism and accountability as the UH regents, we’d be way ahead of the game.

  7. charles Says:

    I don’t make the simple assumption that Takabayashi will just do the union’s bidding. Might be true. Might not be true.

    Look at Joan Husted who was the executive director of HSTA and her perspective on public education in recent presentations. Not quite the company line.

    That said, it’s time to change the way we select the board.

    It’s too bad the governor vetoed the bill that laid out how to implement the con am if the voters support it.

    With the veto, there is a vacuum as to what and how the appointed board will look like.

  8. charles Says:

    Oh, and David, you make the mistake of assuming that those who leave the ballot blank don’t care.

    While that is certainly true, it’s also true that many voters plunk for one candidate thereby giving the appearance of far more blanks. It was the same phenomenom when we had multi-member districts.

  9. David Shapiro Says:

    Nikki, first I’d have to endorse the existence of an LG.

  10. ppcc Says:

    I don’t know how anyone can say having the Governor appoint the BOE who in turn choose the Superintendent will sacrifice accountability with the current elected BOE. YIKES! I guess some people have selective memory when it was revealed almost HALF of the currently elected BOE members are completely left out of the decision making loop from the BOE chair and his “gang of seven” BOE members who blindly back him up. In fact when Hamamoto resigned from the DOE to become principal of St Loius, one of the BOE members stated he did not know Hamamoto resigned until he saw it on the TV news! In fact it was later learned that Hamamoto wanted to resign as Superintendent over a year prior but the BOE chair told to her stay longer and NOT tell any other board member. Not too long ago a little less than half of the BOE members tried to oust the BOE chair citing their complete lack of decision making authority so it is clear the current elected BOE members does NOT provide any accountability to the public who elect them. In fact all they do is get HSTA plants or sleepers to run for the board they will continued to manipulate the current elected BOE system. I think the current BOE members that have backed up the board include Coco Iwamoto, Nash, Lei Ahu-Isa, ??.

    Nikki Heat:
    I agree, I got the same impression that Dave was endorsing Schatz. To me, Shatz is just a younger version of Calvin Say. Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think so, but Schatz was one of the staunch defenders of Act 221, the failed “high tech” tax credit that was completely abused by wealthy individuals using the credit as a tax shelters and very dubious that it truly encouraged high tech in Hawaii. It was obscene how State legislators, I think Schatz was one of them, in which they crafted the bill so that companies could secretly apply and receive massive tax credits without any accountability of the public seeing their name and how much tax credit they received. The BS argument was that these companies did not want to receive their “secret” formula to cure cancer or to track submarines underwater from the air, but that was all pure BS. In my opinion Schatz truly is same old, same old of people getting into gov’t NOT for public service but to make $$ for themselves. I might want to add, Schatz, like Say had his issue of running for office in the district they probably did not live in. Also Schatz did quite well with his $100K/yr job at Helping Hands which basically gets its money from handouts from the State (and Feds?)

  11. ppcc Says:


    The BS argument was that these companies did not want to REVEAL their “secret” formula to cure cancer or to track submarines underwater from the air,

  12. Nikki Heat Says:

    Dave: Thanks, you answered my question. I guess I’ll stick with my Chinese wife rationale on that race.

  13. Keoki Says:

    Charles, the intent of the con am (as indicated by Dave and others) is to provide greater accountability for the performance of our public school system. The bill that was vetoed by the Governor would have required the next Gov to select BOE members from a limited list of people that were pre-selected by the legislature and others. How would implementing such a system promote accountability? If the DOE continued to perform poorly, wouldn’t the next Gov be able to blame it on the quality of the “list”? If accountability is truly what we are after, then we must allow the next Gov to select from the full universe of qualified candidates.

  14. David Shapiro Says:

    Charles, point taken on Husted. The blank ballots also run high in the single-member districts where there is no plunking.

  15. Michael Says:

    Why should students care if their parents don’t?

    If we have a good governor, why do we need LG?
    Go Green?
    If we had good principles of schools why need a BOI,
    a DOI, PTOI or any board that costs money but serves no purpose but to get one paid? LoLo!

    Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Same way I look at unions. Get a pay raise and union dues go up.
    Look at the History of Unions and notice the rise in management. You want a better government run system,
    get rid of Remoras or leeches. Go Unions and Go out the door. …—…

    The waste of Education is in the missuse of State funds for Education. We need an audit and find out where unneeded spending is going to. lingle knew something and covered it up. hanneman knows something and just covers it up. “Shoddy”. Blame
    someone else before they find blame on you.

    Recent News showed a Michelle Rhee in Washington DC.
    She is evaluating teachers on quality of teaching
    but also on student outcome. Grades and ability after learning from each teacher. Those with years of teaching are just as worried as those just starting.

    Hundreds of teachers are about to lose their jobs and the unions can do nothing to stop this from happening.
    She seems like a fighter and to see the unions with dropped jaws and mouth open. She seems to want to clean up stagnant system and leave a clean pond for children to learn in. No LG here.

  16. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha David ~
    What a bunch of silly geese! People here believe Bush or Obama can make keiki proficient in academics … they believe Lingle, Neil or Mufi will be able to improve their scores … they claim a new fangled BOE will turn the tide.

    Good luck chasing your tails!

    I didn’t blame anyone. Instead I pointed out what everyone working in schools knows: our keiki need to be study harder. “They need to reach down, pick up their stick and make a better world. It was good enough for Moses” (Beck, 8.28.10).

    I noted some teachers are excellent, some poor and most are solid. Listen to them – of course, it’s likely few of you did back in the day when you were in class.

    We’re not making hamburgers here. I worked at MickeyDees one school year. There’s a precise assembly line process. Drop a frozen pattie on the hot grill. Wait 30 seconds. Sear. Wait 30 second more. Turn over. Salt. Wait 30 seconds. Sear. Wait 30 second more. Put the pattie on the bun.

    Every student is unique. We learn in different ways. This is a very personalize, customized, process. You’re all looking at the system “old school” – like students are on an assembly line.

    Standard 45-Minute Class
    Bell rings. Four minutes to class. Five minutes to take attendance and cover class admin details (students check text messages cuz their friends are in another room). Twenty minutes to correct yesterday’s assignment (students secretly check text messages). Ten minutes to introduce the new assignment (students secretly send text messages). Six minutes to work on daily assignment (students openly send text messages). Bell rings. In hall, find out if friends received text messages.

    Repeat the process five more times.

    This is not teaching. This in not a learning environment.

    Scores are not high enough. Change the CEO (Superintendent); change the BOE. Try a new way, which is old, to pick the BOE.

    Yeah, that will REALLY show the kids who’s boss!

    Change the BOE. Waste billions more. In 3-4 years when you’re yelling at each other again, I’ll drop by to listen to the fun.

    HaHaHa! It is true … one can’t teach OLD DOGS new tricks.

    Hey, will somebody text me???


  17. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    I strongly urge that people reading this blog visit the Board of Regents website and read the biographies of the 15 people who represent the people of Hawai`i.


    Each one of these people was presented to the Governor from a list of two or three names.

    It doesn’t get any better than this.

    These individuals were screened by the REgents Candidates Advisory Council. Click

    The advisory council was created by Act 56, 2007 Hawai‘i Legislature, in conformity with the amendment to Article X, Section 6 of the Hawai‘i State Constitution ratified by the voters on Nov. 7, 2006. Act 56 was amended by Act 9, in 2008. The council is tied to the University of Hawai‘i for administrative purposes.

    This is very similar to the bill vetoed by Lingle.
    Check out HB 2377 CD1

    Requires the members of the Board of Education to be nominated and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appointed by the Governor from lists of qualified candidates presented to the Governor by the Board of Education Selection Advisory Council.

    For a summary of the Conference Committee’s report, click

    As a BOE candidate in 2002 and 2004, back then I recognized the failings of the current system, but I also acknowledged then and still do so now how important it is for the public to select its leaders. I have mised feelings about the Amendment without the implementing legislation, particularly given the choice of gubernatorial candidates.

    In any case, the Regents’ selection process works – in great part due to the Democratic leadership at the time – including Blake Oshiro who was vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

  18. ppcc Says:


    Check this link out:
    Act 221: Is Hawaii’s high-tech tax credit broken?
    By Kelli Abe Trifonovitch 2003

    “…Speaker of the House Calvin Say says, “(Economic Development chair Brian Schatz) just wants to give Act 221 a chance. I’ll support the chair at this point in just leaving it the way it is and having the department promulgate the guidelines for all applications.”

    At the time Schatz was Economic Development chair who was in charge of crafting Act 221 and ultimately responsible in allowing “connected” businesses people and companies to fleece Hawaii taxpayers. It has become abundantly clear Schatz allowed the Act 221 to be crafted by special interest to give themselves a tax shelter under the guise of high tech. In Schatz’s campaign Adds when does’nt he mention about how he was the major force which allowed Act 221 to germinate, metastasize to what it has become today, approaching a $1 BILLION ripoff to Hawaii taxpayers for the total life of this measure?

  19. Richard Gozinya Says:

    I don’t know about you guys but all this talk about lowering the bars and raising the bars is driving me to the bars.

  20. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:


  21. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    The reason I ask is that I wrote an extensive comment with citations from bills and official websites but it says “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” No cuss words, no slammajammas – so wassup?

  22. ppcc Says:


    You referring to my comments? It started with Dave writing a piece in the Star Advertiser regarding the LG race and made a cryptic statement regarding Schatz. Nikki Heat made a reference to Shapiro’s comment, & I had a similar question with the comment. I pointed out issues with Schatz and LocalDem responded, stating no impropriety occured with Schatz’s issue of residence and his job at Helping Hands. I read the links and will accept their points that Schatz has no illegal issues on these matters. I then linked a 2003 article on how Schatz was Economic Development chair and the defender of Act 221, enacted in 2001. Am I lying or making this up? Is this inappropriate to point it out given that Schatz is running for the office of lieutenant governor and probably wants to be governor of Hawaii someday. I would like you or Schatz or anyone else in his camp to enlighten me and give his/their explanation on his staunch support of Act 221 while he was chair. In 2010 does he regret supporting and allowing Act 221 to germinate to what it has become today or he will he continue to staunchly support Act 221. Unlike Atomic Monkey, I have no issue with Schatz’s ethnicity, age, religion, who he married, where he went to school, etc. I just want him to be ACCOUNTABLE as an elected State Rep for Act 221, which be all objective measure has become a very expensive failure at taxpayer’s expense for the State of Hawaii. The same kind of accountability that we ALL want with the DOE to improve public education of our children in Hawaii. Can you imagine the incredible improvements in the DOE,City & State gov’t if ALL of our elected officials & gov’t employees actually have to be directly accountable for their actions and the decisions they make as gov’t employees??

  23. ppcc Says:


    Sorry, never mind my previous statement. I thought you had issue with my comments.

  24. David Shapiro Says:

    Cap, I don’t know why you went into moderation. Maybe the multiple URLs triggered the spam filter. Anyway, I passed it through.

  25. hipoli Says:

    I understand people have strong opinions on both sides of 221, but can we please remember that Brian was Chair of the subject-matter committee in 2003. As I remember the birth of 221, it was primarily the work of then-Governor Cayetano’s tax department director Ray (last name?) and two very skillful Senators. In 2003, Brian’s job then was to hear the concerns, weigh both sides, and make his recommendations to the money committees and leadership. In 2003, Brian was correct that 221 deserved to be given a chance. It had only been passed two years prior, it needed time to be fully implemented, and the Lingle admin was poised to tighten loose ends through admin rules (did that ever happen?). I dont have the actual fiscal data (Charles?) but just based on general observations, I remember 2004 to 2008 being pretty darn good for Hawaii, with at least some of that credit going to Act221, specifically.

    Like 2003, when the Council on Revenues downgraded its projections, very comparable to our recent fiscal crisis, 221 came under scrutiny for adjustments as a means to cover the budget shortfall. One could argue that this time, 221 did not have as able an advocate in the Legislature as it had in 2003 to argue and present data in support of 221 as the legislative leadership ultimately made its budgetary decisions.

    Obviously, @ppcc, you are further trying to disparage Brian by evoking other false statements.

    As presented by @LoyalDem, the question of his then-residency was incorrect.

    Furthermore, the idea that state contracts for social services are just handed out is absolutely ridiculous and disparaging to many. The number of private providers in this state, with their numerous employees (CARE, PACT, TIFFE, Catholic Charities, North Shore Mental Health, Salvation Army, Hale Kipa, etc.) are ALL competing against each other as they reply to Requests for Proposals put out by the State. State contracts, just like federal and city contracts, are all viable sources of funds for these providers to conduct essential services. It is very ignorant and disrespectful to government agencies, the government employee who work diligently and ethically to establish and ensure a fair process, and to all our state’s fine social service organizations, if you are insinuating that the very upstanding organization, Helping Hands, did anything but compete along side their fellow providers.

    Handouts? Hardly.

    In fact, the fact that Brian was executive director of a social service provider for eight years speaks to who Brian really is. Do you have any idea what type of individuals Helping Hands service? The mentally ill. The homeless. The most needy of our society. Immigrants. People in crisis. Families in crisis. That means, Brian did much more than pay a bunch of lip service to those that ALL these politicians say they want to help. Most politicians talk. Brian acted. Brian got down in there, in the trenches, got dirty, and helped people.

    Any day, I would stand strongly behind a good number of our executive directors of these non-profits. They are hard working people who have incredibly hard working, dedicated people in their organizations who work the front line of what all us democrats say we support and believe in.

    Brian might not be a loud, out-there-mouth-Hooser. Or a yell-at-everyone-Sakamoto. Or a take-control-because-I-think-Im-the-smarter-than-everyone-Berg.


    Brians was the one actually doing the work.

  26. Michael Says:

    Dot. Dot. Dot. Dash- Dash- Dash- Dot. Dot. Dot.

  27. anticoqui Says:

    Boy…this is getting so frustrating…maybe mo’ bettah let each island/school district go at it themselves and the one producing the best test results/students is the winner. One big blocker is $$$$ for each island to run their own ‘show’.

  28. shaftalley Says:

    seperation of school and state.propose a constituttional amendment to abolish public schools in hawaii and stop a boe/doe from treating our children like test animals.parents, and not the state,should be in charge of their kids’ education.freedom lovers will always choose independence.BUT if we have to maintain a gov’ system,please give the rank and file teachers complete autonomy from the boe/doe.let them teach!

  29. charles Says:

    @Keoki, read the bill. The way the nominees were to be selected in the vetoed bill was similar to the way judges and regents are selected.

    You wrote, “The bill that was vetoed by the Governor would have required the next Gov to select BOE members from a limited list of people that were pre-selected by the legislature and others.”

    Can you point out in the bill where it says that the legislature has a say as to who is on the list to be submitted to the governor?

    My understanding is that the reason the legislature came up with this process was precisely to soften the criticism that leaving the appointments solely up to the governor would potentially politicize the process.

    It seems to work for the regents and judges and I don’t hear the public clamoring that those processes be repealed so that the governor can appoint anyone he or she desires.

    @Dave, you make a good point about plunking. But as a side note, keep in mind in many of the BOE races, there is only one candidate so there is a tendency to leave it blank knowing the person will be elected.

  30. WooWoo Says:


    I bet not one in 100 “man on the street” can name their geographic board member.

    Lots of people have skills and desire to contribute at the BOE level, but have no desire to go through the ordeal of running for public office. An appointed board can bring many of these people out of the woodwork.

  31. charles Says:

    @woowoo, you’re probably right. But ask the proverbial man on the street if he can name his state rep, senator, councilmember, neighborhood board member, etc.

    You may be shocked at his response.

  32. Nikki Heat Says:

    Yep. Mary Ribucan Cochran (BOE), Gil Agaran (Rep), Shan Tsutsui (Senator), Joe Pontanilla (Councilmember), no neighborhood boards on Maui, Mazie K. Hirono (U.S. Rep), Daniel K. Inouye and Dan K. Akaka (U.S. Senators).

  33. WooWoo Says:

    Well, Nikki Heat, you are my 1 in 100.

    Since you are well versed in elected officials, I assume you are aware that your BOE rep, Mary Cochran, is on the “Budget and Fiscal Accountability Committee.” Oh, and she filed for personal bankruptcy in 2008. If there is a stronger indictment of the BOE’s lack of budgetary acumen, I shudder to think what it would be. “You can’t manage your own finances, but let’s go ahead and let you oversee $2.4B a year.”

  34. shaftalley Says:

    it doesn’t matter how the boardmembers are created.if something doesn’t work,even if it doesn’t work a dozen times,why do more of the same??

  35. Della Au Belatti Says:

    Dave – thanks for blogging on the appointed school board issue. An appointed school board is not the magic bullet that will solve all of education’s problems, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

    As a parent of a child in public school who does her homework and demands that my child do her homework, I recognize that there are certain structural changes to our public education that need to be made, including greater accountability for those who are at the helm of policy making decisions for the state education system.

  36. Michael Says:

    Get rid of unions and let teachers decide on their own by electing their own leader among teachers. Unions have nothing to do with education but only with members giving dues. Could the unions care more or less if a student is educated? No, the less educated they are the better the union can manipulate the student. unions are only Puppet masters who manipulate Candidates they endorse.

    – – – O
    Same old stuff! onions only make me cry!

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