Support Matayoshi, but boot the school board

I have no problem with Kathryn Matayoshi as public schools superintendent. She delivered the goods by bringing home the $75 million federal “Race to the Top” grant — and more impressively, winning it by bringing together all elements of the education establishment on a much-needed reform program for our schools.

I wish her the best of luck in the daunting task of keeping everybody together and getting the plan executed.

But the Board of Education did her no favors with the haphazard selection process that lacked the transparency and professionalism we deserve from public agencies on appointments of this magnitude. It creates suspicion and controversy that Matayoshi doesn’t need with all of the challenges facing her.

BOE Chairman Garrett Toguchi’s secrecy surrounding former superintendent Pat Hamamoto’s departure and Matayoshi’s elevation to the interim job made it look like a political setup.

Interviewing only Matayoshi for the job in a secretive process with a mysterious schedule after hiring a search consultant and attracting 24 applicants only added to the impression.

I believe in giving a fair chance those who rise to our top public jobs, and Matayoshi has earned it with her performance on “Race to the Top.”

But the inept Board of Education that has tripped all over itself in handling the transition from Hamamoto to Matayoshi has got to go. There’s more reason than ever for voters to pass the November constitutional amendment switching from an elected to appointed school board.

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15 Comments on “Support Matayoshi, but boot the school board”

  1. Michael Golojuch, Jr. Says:

    We need a more accountable school board and that is why I will be voting for an appointed school board in November.

  2. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Hmmm!!1 Wonder what would have happened had I been elected to the BOE? I cannot imagine that I would have kept my mouth shut on all of these issues.

    Does anyone know if Garrett Toguchi and Charles Toguchi are related? If they are, I would love to be a fly on the wall at one of their `ohana gatherings.

  3. charles Says:

    Spot on.

  4. WooWoo Says:

    The SA quoted Knudsen as saying that since there was going to be so much change (gov, new BOE members) they wanted a steady hand at the top.

    Then why waste money pretending to look?

    I would love to have somebody ask Knudsen and each individual member of the BOE: how much blame do you think you deserve for the state of public education in Hawaii today? For sure, they don’t ask themselves that question. If they did, most would have resigned by now.

  5. ppcc Says:

    It is clear that the fix was in. The application process was a sham and that Matayoshi who was hand picked by the BOE chair and knows how to “toe the line” would be chosen. Do you think for a second that the BOE wanted to hire an independent thinking administrator like Michele Rhee of Washington D.C. schools that actually wanted to hold teachers personally accountable with their teaching performance??

    Also I doubt that Matayoshi had that much of an impact on the DOE receiving the $75 million Fed grant. Probably as much as the original content provided by Obama or Bush-2 in any of their canned public speeches that they make. How could the Feds not give money to the DOE given DOE made national headlines by having the LEAST number of instructional days in the entire nation.

    I have no personal issue against Matayoshi. I am only looking at her professional history as the interim Superintendent of education. As the interim superintendent, like Hamamoto, is just a figurehead with unwavering loyalty to the BOE chair and his ultimately loyalty to the HSTA. Matayoshi is to the BOE chair as Caldwell is to Mufi. When it really counted, Matayoshi could have stood up for the kids and gone against the BOE chair and HSTA and resisted student furloughs, and instead demanded that mandatory cuts to their budget occur in areas that did NOT directly impact children. Except for the majority of Hawaii Charter schools, ALL of them, Matayoshi, the BOE chair and his gang of 7 that support him, the HSTA, and eventually Lingle are ALL at fault, and the DOE receiving a one time amount of $75 million will not change any of the underlying management problems in DOE. It was already described where most of the $75 million will go and about 1/3 will go to help pay for teacher salaries and another big chunk will go to pay for external consultants and computer software systems that in the end really will NOT directly benefit students. The issue with the DOE was never really about lack of money. Not too long ago, the BOE annual budget was about $2.4 BILLION and even with that obscene amount of money, public school kids were still getting a substandard education.

    I think most are in agreement that Hawaii voters should pass the November amendment to have the BOE appointed rather than elected. If that measure should pass, then in order for any hope of REAL improvement in public education, there should be a clean slate and not only should all BOE members be appointed but the Superintendent (ie Matayoshi) should be replaced as well.

  6. ppcc Says:

    I noticed that the BOE is giving Matayoshi a long term 4 year contract, even though they know that if the November amendment passes, the appointed BOE members will be removed but Matayoshi will remain. What happens if the appointed BOE does NOT want Matayoshi? will they have to “buy out” her contract similarly to what UH would have to do with Coach MacMakin if they want to replace him? Nice move by the HSTA to try to maintain their legacy in the power and control structure of the DOE. I think it is clear even if an appointed BOE is in place a couple of years from now, no real change will occur until the current Superintendent AND BOE are replaced with all who are actually for teacher accountability, performance and cleaning up the DOE of gross waste, inefficiency and corruption in the DOE.

    Ironic if Mufi or Aiona become Gov, both would work toward really cleaning house in the DOE. Improvement in teacher accountability would be out of reach for them, however both would try their all to get rid of the rampant waste & corruption in DOE. However their motivations for doing so would different as Mufi will need to free up some serious Hawaii taxpayer cash to insure his rail project does not die. At the present time, revenue numbers don’t add up to undertake the rail project but if he can shift a hundred mil or so every year to help pay for rail construction and maintenance, then he can assure Hawaii will forever be in the rail business, no matter how worthless and money draining the project will be.

  7. Michael Says:

    There was A Question asked before in a News Article. Where is the money going from BOe, DOe or other Boards that deal with Education? There is money now 75 million, (so it says on paper) But where is this money going to?

    Are we not in the hole 65 million for Furlough Fridays? 10 million to be paid back to First Hawaiian Bank?
    Do we put back money into our Hurricane fund? Money taken out but not replaced. What will happen with a real Hurricane disaster. At least we will be more “educated”. Our children are our future.

    What does Matayoshi plan to do with the money, taken for granted? It seems if Matayoshi can’t do the job given, I would have her impeached from the Board. I could Sue the State. Matayoshi is not a business person.

    Hawaii should file bankruptcy and forget all debts and start all over from scratch. If Trump can do this Why now a State? The rich have ways of sliding by while the poor slide into limbo. There is no middle class now. Just people who pay taxes and those who pay more tax. Working class or non working class.

  8. WooWoo Says:


    I don’t think of it so much as the “fix.”. It’s just that the BOE has less creativity than your average jar of applesauce. They would have named Rod Tam superintendent if he already had the interim position. I agree with Dave that the problem is not Matayoshi. She is qualified. The problem lies with the fact that the BOE is so inept and clueless that they think it is acceptable to not even interview another candidate.

  9. shaftalley Says:

    i’m also wondering if it was a mistake for our officials to go to DC to accept the RTTT bail-out money in the first place.the obama administration’s “race to the top” could also be called a “race to nationalize education”. i mean bush tried it with his “no child left behind”. the rttt federal funds is just another attempt by obama and his central planners to take over local schools in hawaii.there will be strings attached for this money.i wonder how much control and autonomy the local teachers will have?and what about the kids?the federales will probably force the local educators to to teach them curreculum that the federal gov’t. will want taught.implementation and oversight will be hijacked by these central planners.and our state has over $1 billion just sitting around in “special funds”.

  10. shaftalley Says:

    some more thoughts about the RTTT stimulus program.did the hawaii state education system even qualify to be on the short list for the funds?they have not made any reforms before being placed on the list!all hawaii and some of the other states did was “submit plans”. made a lot of promises to the feds.maybe even convinced the obama regime that the union bought into it!!will there be any meaningful reforms ?unlikely with unions that represent everyone working at the schools.

  11. Michael Says:

    I think Auditor Higa could and would do a better job of balancing the budget or being on the BOE, but she was shut down for being “shoddy” by a so called qualified governor. Education needs an AUDIT.
    Hire Michelle Rhea! Too bad she is already working in Washington DC. Hawaii can’t afford her service.

  12. Michael Says:

    Could one Reboot?

  13. hugh clark Says:

    I fail to see any value to an appointed board.
    Just look at the appointed board of regents that huddles secretely whenever anything important is on its agenda.

    Reduce the number, make members responsible to specific voters and elect them on staggered terms. Now Big Islanders vote for Maui and Kauai for Big Island candidates. It is nonsensical.

    It’s also outdated and does not meet the one-man, one-vote comstitutional test. Oahu is clearly over represented. Sam King’s sad joke persists.

  14. WooWoo Says:


    You may not be too far off the mark. Looks like DC mayor Fenty is out. If so, Rhee is likely out a job as well. A sad day for education reform.

  15. Michael Says:

    If Michelle Rhea is effective as 1 person who needs to have several Board members who will only butt heads? I think as some commented we need someone who can do the job smarter not spend more than what is needed.

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