You never know how things will play out, but the initial impression here is that Gov. Neil Abercrombie did an thoughtful job of picking his first appointed Board of Education.
They’re yet to be vetted by the state Senate, but the nine members seem to represent a diverse pool of talent without being a “Noah’s Ark” of special interests who would end up working at cross purposes. All seem to have solid professional credentials relevant to some aspect of setting policy for our public schools.
The governor was wise not to include any of the members of the current elected BOE after they were so soundly repudiated by voters who opted overwhelmingly to switch to an appointed board.
It was also a good move by Abercrombie to engineer an agreement with the new board that Kathryn Matayoshi will be retained as superintendent.
It raised eyebrows when the current board hired her after a search that was less than robust, but she’s passed her battle testing by coming up with a credible plan to improve school performance and winning a $75 million federal Race to the Top grant to help implement it.
Nothing is guaranteed, but the change to a less political and more professional board has the potential to bring a leap forward for our schools, and Abercrombie appears to have done the right things to get it off to a good start.
For those who haven’t seen the news, here’s the board:
•Don Horner (chairman), chief executive officer and chairman of First Hawaiian Bank
•Wesley Lo, chief executive officer at Maui Memorial Medical Center
•Brian DeLima, attorney and former Hawaii County Council member
•Nancy Budd, attorney and a member of the Kauai Planning and Action Alliance Public Education Action Team
•Jim Williams, retired administrator and CEO of the Hawaii Employer-Union Benefits Trust Fund;
•Charlene Cuaresma, associate director of the Graduate Professional Access Program at UH-Manoa
•Cheryl Kauhane Lupenui, chief executive offer of the YWCA on Oahu
•Keith Amemiya, executive administrator and secretary of the Board of Regents
•Kim Gennaula, philanthropy director at Kapiolani Health Foundation