Fixing Hawaii’s Public Education System Starts on the Local Level-Decentralize the System Now, Oppose Two Bills That Hurt Decentralization Efforts

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House Bill 289, which creates a local advisory school boards, and House Bill 32, which requires the state Board of Education to meet in local communities, do not address the real issues that need to be solved in order to fix Hawaii’s public education system.

I have followed the problems of the educational system for many years. I have seen the results of national tests showing that the status of Hawaii’s children in public schools. I believe there must be substantial change in the way we manage and operate the schools and divide up the state education money that is spent each year.


I also have served on several boards of directors and trustees. I understand that the basis on which boards can do their jobs depends on the accuracy and completeness of the information they receive from the organizations they are intended to serve.

When a Board has such a large span of control and responsibility, such as the current DOE board, it is impossible to make fair decisions for all the school districts, because it is impossible to accurately assess their individual needs. The job is just too large for one group to handle.

Local boards are what is needed but they need to be more than just advisory in nature. The system is still just too big to expect that the voice of advisory boards will be heard and not ignored. Advice is cheap, the saying goes. In this case, without authority to act within legitimate local board guidelines and accountabilities, there will be few if any local gains from real, appropriate decisions that benefit local school districts.

In short, when local school boards are formed as they are proposed in HB 289 but have no real control and authority to make financial and other decisions for their local school districts, the real problem has not been addressed and this implementation would represent nothing more than an expensive sham. This system will simply not work.

Real local school boards will establish education policies in their communities, and have the authority to approve their school district budget. True local school boards will hear the local needs, make real decisions in response to them, and then be held accountable along with the schools for making those decisions work.

HB 289 creates advisory boards that don’t have these authorities. I want local boards who will work together and listen to the input from myself and other community members, and be willing to act upon this advice when it applies. HB 32 only requires one Board of Education member to occasionally listen to my advice at the local level. Why will he/she be willing to respond based on my input when there are thousands of voices from all over the state also seeking to be heard on behalf of their own district’s special needs.

I want reform that gives each community the right and opportunity to improve the education in each district. I oppose these two bills because they do not enact the real local school board reform that I have addressed in this testimony.

”’Jack Randall is an Administrator at Keiki o ka Aina and a resident of Honolulu. He can be reached via email at:”’