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Monday, October 11, 2010
Hawaii Chamber of Commerce backs Appointed BoE
By News Release @ 11:02 PM :: 6728 Views :: Energy, Environment
“Hawaii’s Children First”

From Hawaii Chamber of Commerce President Jim Tollefson – October 11, 2010 

I was pleased to hear that in August, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) awarded federal stimulus funds to ten “Race to the Top” Phase 2 winners including Hawaii, which came in third in the nation.

Race to the Top is a nationwide program for education reform. The Department of Education, State of Hawaii through the support of educators, legislators, policy makers, and community partners was able to create an educational reform plan that will now receive $75 million over the next four years.  This is a positive step for Hawaii’s public education system.

However, as business leaders we all recognize there are some major challenges within in Hawaii’s public education system and it begins with who is accountable. Currently, there is a grass roots effort started by a wide cross section of people in Hawaii who are trying to make a fundamental change to public education in Hawaii.  The group is called “Hawaii’s Children First,” and they support a ballot initiative in the November election to allow for an appointed school board.

“Hawaii’s Children First,” shared the following statistics about the public education system in Hawaii:

  • · 64% of Hawaii public schools did not meet adequate yearly progress
  • · 35% of the students were not proficient in mathematics
  • · 52% of Hawaii Public High School graduates went to college (Ranked 41st in the Nation)
  • · 30% of Hawaii Public High School graduates who entered college were placed in remedial English classes
  • · 53% of Hawaii Public High School graduates who entered college were placed in remedial Mathematics classes
  • · Only 7% of the Hawaii High School graduates who attend college will graduate on time
  • · In 2006, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, noted that, over the past decade, Hawai‘i has experienced the “steepest decline in the nation” in college attendance

We need more accountability in public education if we want our students to be competitive.  No one is fully accountable now.  The governor, Legislature and elected school board all share responsibility for education.  Shared power means no one is fully accountable for any failures. A step in the right direction is to have an appointed school board rather than an elected board.

Why should you care? As a parent, wouldn’t you prefer to choose between either a quality public school or private school education for your children?  Too many parents don’t have a choice and unfortunately a family’s income determines the quality of their child’s education.  This should not be the case.

As an employer, where is your next generation of workers going to come from?  Knowledge based employers look for an educated work force in locating their business in a particular market.  Without an educated work force, what type of quality jobs will we have in Hawaii?

As a citizen, retired or not, an educated workforce provides for a vibrant economy.  Better jobs, translates into a better quality of life.  

I encourage you to Vote YES on the Appointed School Board Ballot Measure in November.  {Blank votes are counted as a NO vote—retaining the status quo.}

  • For more information on Hawaii’s Children First Click Here
  • For more information on why an appointed board is important Click Here
  • For the Complete College America report on Hawaii Click Here


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