Good start for the appointed BOE
Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s appointment of First Hawaiian Bank chairman and CEO Don Horner to the Board of Education is the first glimpse of the gains we could realize from the new constitutional amendment switching from an elected to an appointed school board.
Horner replaces Lei Ahu Isa, who stepped down in advance of the shift that will come as soon as the Legislature passes enabling legislation.
Abercrombie’s first appointment represents dramatic change: the head of one of Hawai‘i’s biggest and most successful companies replacing a bottom-tier politician once described by former Gov. Ben Cayetano as one of the state’s weakest lawmakers.
Extrapolate upgrades of that magnitude to the entire school board and you can see the possibilities for improving our public schools.
Horner hit all the right notes in accepting the appointment, saying the board should focus on setting clear policies and goals for improvement rather than trying to micromanage the superintendent.
His vow to focus more on the “customers” — students and parents — is welcome, and his description of the Department of Education as an institution with long traditions uninterrupted by progress was on the mark.
Horner was involved in the clumsy attempt by the Business Roundtable last year to derail civil unions, and as with the Rev. Marc Alexander, Abercrombie’s choice for homelessness coordinator, Horner will grate on the governor’s supporters whose political world revolves around that one issue.
But he brings to the table some of the state’s best experience on how to make a big organization work, and Abercrombie deserves kudos for valuing proven expertise over ideological purity in those he recruits to help him attack some of our most vexing problems.