The Washington DC based Thomas B. Fordham Foundation released its State of State Standards 2005 report today, documenting Hawaii’s language arts and math standards as near and at the bottom of the country, respectively.

Though Hawaii’s language arts scores as increased from a “D” to a “C” grade since the last report in 2000, Hawaii still ranked 45th or fifth from the bottom in language arts. Meanwhile, the math standards ranking dropped drastically from a “C” to an “F” grade and the number one worst in the country.

Top scores in math, which were based on a 4.0 scale, went to California (3.89); Indiana (3.82); and Massachusetts (3.30) with very bottom scores going to Delaware (0.54); Connecticut (0.47); and Hawaii (0.43).

Top scores in language arts went to Massachusetts (3.91); California (3.68); and Alabama (3.64) with the very bottom scores going to Hawaii (1.91); Michigan (1.41); Wyoming (1.27); Washington (1.23); Connecticut (1.09) and Montana (0.82).

See the Fordham report at

Hawaii’s math standards are rated so low, according to the study, because the school system uses controversial textbooks and programs not approved by most mathematics experts, Hawaii does not organize a the hiarchy of learning various math problems into a logical order and the standards are “vague, undemanding and unmeasurable.”

Thomas Stuart, a public school math teacher on the island of Hawaii, says to anyone who has actually has waded through the HCPS II standards for mathematics, this is no surprise. Nor is the state Department of Education’s response to the report, he says.

“It is as predictable as sunrise that State Department of Education public relations flack Greg Knudsen would respond as he did: “the Fordham Foundation is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the DOE as far as math teaching goes”. In other words we are
the only ones in step in this parade of the dancing bears,” Stuart says.

He notes the state Department of Education has resolutely refused to establish an academic curriculum in mathematics … or anything else for that matter.

Instead, he says “public school teachers have been pummeled for years to — get this — “implement” the ambiguous, unquantifiable mish mash wish list foisted off by DOE as “standards”.”

He and other supporters of Gov. Linda Lingle’s 2003 and 2004 legislative proposal to allow the public to vote on whether to decentralize the public school system from a single, statewide board of education to a series of smaller more decentralized elected boards, say this is just one more reason the legislature should have allowed the issue to go to a public for a vote.

“The Governor’s 2004 proposal to let voters have their say in whether to decentralize the state’s centralized school system (the only of its kind in the nation) was shorted to ground by DOE’s circle-the-wagons pals in our one horse state Legislature who consider retaining political control over the $2 billion dollar per annum DOE slush fund “budget’ far more important than the future of our children and this state,” Stuart says.