BY MARSHA SAKAMAKI – Hawaii should seriously consider adopting the new California law, which gives parents new control over our failing public schools.  The California law provides that, if 51% of the parents of the students of an individual school sign a petition, the petition can “trigger” various actions.

One action would cause the school to be changed into a charter school.  Other actions include “transformation” of the current school by bringing in a mostly new teaching staff and changing budgeting, firing the principal or closing the school entirely.

A school in Compton, California has begun the process this week.  A charter school management company, which currently and successfully operates three LA schools, will take control.  The Principal and all the teachers will be fired.  They may reapply to the charter school.  The management company promises to hire only the competent teachers, based partially on improvement on test scores over the recent years.  All current students will be accepted.  Normal government funding will continue.

The teachers’ union is, not surprisingly, furious.  They call the new law a “lynch mob provision”.  The teachers’ union wishes to continue supporting failure (which policy currently fills their coffers with union dues).  The teachers’ union wishes to continue to be the only profession in which it is almost impossible to fire the incompetent and no one can be held accountable for poor results.  The benefits to teachers in any union negotiation have always been superior to the needs of the children.  Just keep waiting, they advise.  Someday, things will get better.

Yelling, screaming, and lawsuits are certain.

I say Bravo to the new law.  All states should have this law.  Don’t you think that its existence alone would be a powerful incentive for teachers to do better once they are aware that this could happen to them?

Marsha Sakamaki is a resident of Honolulu, Hawaii

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