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”Takumi Kills Education Reform Measure”

Rep. Roy Takumi, D-Pearl City, chair of the House education committee, yesterday deferred action on the governor’s education reform bill, HB 1082.

The bill proposes a constitutional amendment to give parents and taxpayers as well as teachers a choice to change the nation’s only single-statewide school district into smaller school districts so there is more local control and less bureaucracy.

Takumi’s action means the governor’s bill is stuck in his committee and will die along with any chance for education reforms unless he is convinced to move it forward to another committee by public demand.

However, Takumi has so far ignored the many people who came to testify and plead with his committee to at least allow the bill to go through so it can be put on the ballot for the people to vote on in the 2004 general election.

Neighbor islanders and rural Oahu teachers and parents have long complained that the present system with a statewide board neither reflects their concerns nor grants them flexibility and they want the option to vote for change. Even some Democrat legislators on his committee from the neighbor islands are hoping he’ll push the bill forward and have their views made public.

The administration bill, HB 1082, would simply give people the choice as to whether or not to change the system. However, adamantly against change because their power and funding base will be affected are the Department of Education, the majority of the Board of Education members, the Hawaii State Teachers Association union and the majority of the Democrat legislators.

Sen. Education Chair Norman Sakamoto, D-Moanalua, has played political hot potato and says he will base his decision on whether to hear the companion reform bill in the Senate education committee on what happens in the House.

Is Rep. Takumi a hero or scoundrel

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