Honor voter intent on the Board of Education

I’m glad Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie told Democratic senators that he wants to directly appoint members to the Board of Education, subject to Senate confirmation, rather than be narrowly limited to candidates given him by an advisory council.

Legislators have said they plan to reintroduce a bill vetoed by Gov. Linda Lingle creating a seven-member advisory panel that could provide the governor as few as two choices per BOE seat.

The majority of the  panel would be named by the P-20 Council, an unofficial group made up of the Department of Education, the University of Hawaii and various community and business organizations with interests in education.

Abercrombie had previously said that he’d work with whatever the Legislature gave him.

The constitutional amendment passed by a large majority of voters said: “Shall the Board of Education be changed to a board appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, as provided by law?”

The clear intent was to allow the governor to pick the most qualified people available to govern our schools — and be held accountable for the results.

Limiting the governor to as few as two candidates provided by a panel that’s answerable to nobody thwarts accountability rather than advancing it.

How can the governor be held responsible for education with so little real choice in shaping the BOE?

The Legislature’s plan is modeled on a similar scheme for appointing University of Hawai‘i regents, but that was enacted for the primary purpose of handcuffing a Republican governor and was sharply criticized as bad policy by the national body that accredits universities.

The electorate expressed an unequivocal desire for a fresh start in public education. Lawmakers need to put aside the old politics and give voters what they asked for — a school board truly appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

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11 Comments on “Honor voter intent on the Board of Education”

  1. Carolyn Golojuch Says:

    Right on Dave! The BOE needs a new day to start working for the benefit of our students. For years, the BOE has not been beneficial as it could be and it was not accountable. Gov. Elect Neil Abercrombie needs to turn around the public school and needs all the help possible. In the past, while some board members have done their best, they have been hampered by some members who come with an agenda all their own. Such are the home school advocates who do not have the benefit of the public school students at the top of their priority list. An elected board would hopefully be filled by those who have public and private school backgrounds. An important factor would be to appoint citizens who respect the value of public school. In traveling to countries who don’t value education, I’ve witnessed children of school age working in shops when they should be in school. Our state and our country need to put education first for a change. We never waste money spent in the classroom. It’s never throw away. We throw away money when we value tax cuts for the wealthy over the education of our children.

  2. charles Says:

    David, so you would be in favor of repealing the regents selection process? How about the Judicial Selection Commission? Should the governor be able to appoint judges unilaterally as well?

  3. Manoa Says:

    I’m sure all the organized special interests will make sure their voice is heard under any system. However, The Governor is the only one who can potentially represent the public interest.

    So, anything that restricts his choices is not desirable. Confirmation by the Senate is insurance that the Governor will act responsibly. Yet, no restrictions on who he can nominate makes it clear that the Governor is directly responsible for public education in Hawaii.

  4. David Shapiro Says:

    Charles, yes, I would be in favor of repealing the regents selection process, which effectively strips the governor of the power to make executive appointments by limiting the choices to as few as two. University accreditors say it’s a bad practice and you guys no longer have a Republican governor to handcuff. Senate confirmation provides check and balance.

    The Judicial Selection Commission also has its critics, such as Judge Sam King, who say it doesn’t eliminate the politics, just hides them. In the recent Katherine Leonard case, it didn’t even do that. At least the JSC gives the governor six candidates to choose from instead of two.

  5. Michael Says:

    Voters approve BOE? I think not!
    Some parents, who are voters should not even be parents and you want them to Vote! BOE, if they want to improve on Education, start with Educating Parents. Just because one has children does not make them a Parent. Neither does Teaching make one a Teacher. Going to school does not make one a student, either.

    180 days to Teach. 180 days to learn subjects to get enough credits to graduate. 365-180=the brain is off more than working.

    I am glad that Governor Abercrombie wants to make decisions that he alone in office will make and not let the public decide. Seems also the Governor is willing to work with others for what is best for the People of Hawaii. Governor Abercrombie seems he will go down with the Ship if it sinks and not be a lingle who was first in her lifeboat. Will see?
    lingle is as lingle does.

  6. zzzzzz Says:

    Does anybody remember how the members were appointed before we switched from an appointed board to an elected board, or why we switched from appointed to elected? Was it because of kids weren’t getting a good education, or was it a power grab?

  7. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    David, most of the time I agree with you on issues, but in this case, you are wrong.

    As someeone who regularly attends the Board of Regents meetings and have tracked higher education issues for well over a decade, I strongly support the relatively new system for presenting the Governor with qualified candidates from which to select a nominee to send on to the State Senate for confirmation.

    The BOR is NOW made up of highly qualified members who are doing an excellent job of providing well-thought-out leadership.

    Furthermore, the members of the Regents Candidate Advisory Council are also highly qualified to identify who should be considered by the Governor.

    Read their CVs on Council’s website. Furthermore, their meetings are “sunshined.”

    It was for these reasons that I strongly supported the vetoed bill and why I voted BLANK on amendment itself. Even though I ran for the BOE twice, I was willing to consider an appointed Board: however, without the protection against making political appointments – ever hear of Kitty Lagaretta? – I cannot support an appointed board. Kitty was actually identified as highly qualified by the Advisory Counwil for a re-appointment. It was only after Lingle sent her name on to the State Senate that she was rejected.

    That rejection had a direct impact on Lingle’s decision to veto the BOE Advisory Council.

    I will be back at the Legislature supporting the creation on a Candidate Advisory Committee for an appointed Board of Education.

    Take a look at other important boards & commissions in which this advisory council step does not exist and see the type of person and his/her background who winds up being appointed. Unless there is a strong Committee chair heading a particular committee before which the board or commission candidate will appear, the rubber stamp will make the decision.

    Think Board of Land & Natural Resources or Land Use Commission or Aloha Stadium Authority before you reject the two-step process.

  8. David Shapiro Says:

    Here’s what the 2006 constitutional amendment setting the UH regents selection process said:

    “Shall the governor be required to select board of regents candidates from a pool of qualified candidates screened and proposed by a candidate advisory council for the board of regents of the University of Hawaii as provided by law?”

    Here’s what the 2006 constitutional amendment on the BOE said:

    “Shall the Board of Education be changed to a board appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, as provided by law?”

    Voters were not voting for the same thing for the BOE as for UH.

  9. Michael Says:

    “State did not plan ahead for workers’ retirement”

    Quicksand getting deeper.
    Governor Abercrombie has another issue to deal with. Now, but what about the Future?

  10. David Shapiro Says:

    As for the cheap-shot demonization of Kitty Lagareta, I didn’t agree with all of her policy calls, but she’s a highly accomplished businesswoman and community volunteer who was eminently qualified to serve on the Board of Regents by any objective standard.

  11. Andy Parx Says:

    It’s a not just the spirit or intent but in fact the letter of the amendment. The words “advice and consent” are not just some random word to indicate some sort of involvement of the Senate but in fact a specific process of appointment and confirmation without any other restrictions. I’ve never seen “advise and consent” mean anything but an executive’s unrestricted (unless by qualifications like education experience) nomination and a confirmation process.


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