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January 18, 2010 :: Permalink

Aloha ~
David's ex-pat advisor understands what most American's refuse to accept ... that our leaders in education are the most important positions in the entire state - and nation. Yet Americans are a nation of panicked children today. We'll waste more than a TRILLION dollars this year chasing shadows around the world knowing this policy creates more enemies of our ideals.

At the same time our irrational fear will lead us to underfund education and continue a downward national spiral into bankruptcy and mediocrity in world commerce. Education provides the foundation that allows us to compete (and win) in a challenging global economy - bombs and remote-controlled drones do not.

I am not familiar with interim superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi yet the fact she has no background in education and just joined the DOE six months ago suggests we should be concerned about her qualifications. I agree with Pat that the old girl system will continue to shuffle unqualified people through the doors.

In David's January 14th column, I wrote, The problem with public education is us - each of us - and our democratic style of government, which is defined by compromise.

My wager here is that our educated bloggers will be unable to agree upon the best remedies to turn around, as David writes, a dysfunctional institution. But is Hawa'i's system dysfunctional?

Most experts claim Hawai'i has a failing education system. I don't share this pessimism. In a October 2009 federal study, the researchers ranked Hawai'i's current proficiency standards 9th out of 15 states that met federal basic achievement levels - the remaining 35 did not meet basic requirements. The study suggested states are cheating to stay ahead of NCLB standards. I called and spoke with federal researchers at the Department of Education. Per their comments Hawai'i has a great deal of which to be proud.

In a December 2009 study highlighted in U.S. News & World Report, state-by-state findings rank Connecticut #1 in the nation. This review claims Connecticut has 8.3% of their public schools earning Bronze or better medals and 6.2% receiving Silver (no Gold). From this angle Hawai'i appears to tie for last place (47th) with North Dakota and Montana. Hawai'i's schools earned no Silver or Gold awards but 16.7% of schools earned Bronze or better.

I grabbed this data and sorted it using the Bronze or better field. Hawai'i's 16.7% is the highest in the nation - putting our schools #1 from this point of view.

If we again review #1 ranked Connecticut they earned 8.3% (Bronze or better) and 6.2% (Silver) for a total of 14.5% Bronze or BETTER. Yet Hawai'i beats this easily with their 16.7% Bronze or BETTER.

In this land of endless summer where our Keiki can look forward primarily to service industry positions we may be doing a better job preparing them for the future than we give our educators credit. Yet similar to the children who love to claim school is uncool the adults who have access to the biggest public microphones have found it profitable to continue the bashing of government and public workers - including our teachers.

It's extremely easy for low informed voters to criticize ... let's see now who can post something positive to move our education and state/nation forward.

A*L*O*H*A