Hawaii News: Focus on Education

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Governor Abercrombie
Governor Neil Abercrombie


Abercrombie pledges harbor improvements Takes issue with HSTA, cultural and environmental activists


In a speech at a Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce event last week, Gov. Neil Abercrombie was remarkably candid on a variety of issues relating to infrastructure.

In particular, the Governor took shots at a number of forces that he claimed were in the way of his policies: the HSTA and”self-appointed” (read as: non-OHA) Native Hawaiian groups.

The Governor touted legislation that would give exemptions to certain policies from environmental review and also promoted his credentials as a supporter of labor while maintaining his position in the current HSTA negotiations.

The Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee has advanced a bill (by an 11-2 vote) that would create a program to evaluate teachers, against the objections of the HSTA.

While Sen. Jill Tokuda claimed that the changes were “about more than just Race to the Top”, it is hard to not to see this bill as a last-ditch attempt to appease the national DOE and retain the $75 million RTTP grant.

HSTA is said to object to the bill because it was not a product of a collective bargaining agreement.

One can only hope that this bill is the first step towards rewarding teachers for performance and providing a mechanism for the removal of inept teachers.

Hawaii Charter School Overhaul Looks Likely

Last Wednesday, it looked exceedingly likely that the Hawaii Charter School System was about to experience a major overhaul.

After passing the Senate, the House looked close to acting likewise.

The bill would fundamentally alter the way charter schools are governed, clearing up a large amount jurisdictional overlap that currently exists.

The bill is based on model legislation written by the National Association for Public Charter Schools.

While educational reform sounds nice in theory, we must look closely at these changes and see if they truly bring about greater choice and opportunity for Hawaii’s students.