Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Hawai`i Board of Education Candidates Forum

By Henry Curtis

Save Our Schools held a candidate forum for those running for one of the three open seats on the Board of Education.

The Star Advertiser story mentioned the sponsor – Save Our Schools – in paragraph 24 of their story. The story did not mention the moderator Neal Milner. The story said that 40 people turned out. I counted over 90. The paper only included quotes from 7 of the candidates and did not mention by name the other three who were present. No analysis at all. That is why blogs are so necessary.

Each candidate had two minutes to make an opening statement. Then each candidate had two minutes to answer a question they were all given in advance. Then Neal asked 10 questions that were not shown in advance to the candidates, each question was answered by five candidates, on a rotating basis. Starting with candidate one, the first five answered the first question, the next five answered the second question. Then starting with candidate two, candidates two thru six answered one question, then candidates seven thru ten and candidate one answered the next question, And so on. Then questions from the audience were asked.

`Olelo taped the whole event.

The candidates are listed in the order in which they spoke.

MARCIA LINVILLE is a retired librarian who worked for 19 years with the Hawaii State Public Library System. She said “here is where I lose the election” DOE hired 15 financial analysts for $70K each. I would put the million dollars to another use. Her priority “This will not win any votes ... libraries.”

TODD HAIRGROVE received the first audience laugh: “I am disabled but I am not dead yet.” His priorities are infrastructure: leaking roofs, air conditioners that don’t work. “Principals [should have] control over hiring and firing teachers.” He favors an elected board over an appointed board: “An appointed board, very partisan, very quickly.”

Mr. Hairgrove graduated from High School in Texas, is a parking lot attendant, volunteers in audio and sound department at his church, works with children at Word of Life Christian Center, is a member of the Republican Party and his candidacy is endorsed by Hawaii Right-to-Life.

MELANIE BAILEY became active in the schools due to the school furlough fiasco. She appeared to have audience support at the beginning of the forum but appeared to have lost their good will and didn’t appear to know that she had lost it. She is a member of the Aikahi Elementary School Parent-Teacher-Student Association (2003-10). Ms. Bailey has a B.A. in hotel, restaurant and institutional management, with a minor in business, from Penn State University and works as human resources manager at Duke’s Canoe Club Restaurant in Waikiki. Her priorities: “Working with a budget ... fiscally important decisions ... 10 years ... utopia ... $2B/year 170,000 students. The number 1 priority ... the new Superintendent must be a leader. The number one issue is engaging the community.”

She favors on-line testing, efficiencies, line item of our tax dollars, we do not have satisfied customers, we need a weighted school formula and more $ towards principals.

Question: Do you support the decision to close rural schools? “Hard for me to see rural schools on any of our islands ... I drive across the island of Oahu for both work and school.” (She lives in Kailua and works in Waikiki).

Question: What should we do about low performing schools? “When we are talking about low performing schools were talking about communities. Stricter guidelines so students know ... by 12th grade how to behave like a citizen.”

She favors an appointed school board: “I want to be able to point my finger and say that you were responsible for this decision.” She is running for an elected board in case the voters don’t vote for an appointed board in the November elections.

Question: How would you handle bullying and teach tolerance and diversity? “Because we have a very diverse population we’re doing a pretty good job.”

One child in public school.

She shares a campaign brochure with Kathy Bryant-Hunter.

KATHY BRYANT-HUNTER is running for the Board with fellow Kailua resident Melanie Bailey. She has a BA in international economics from Claremont McKenna College in California but left the University of Hawaii one credit shy of a master's degree in urban planning. Ms. Bryant is an activist with Hawaii Education Matters, president of Aikahi Elementary School PTSA, Kailua Neighborhood Board for 10 years, Chair for 5 years, soccer coach, and favors an appointed education board, although when asked if she favors an appointed education board she dodged the question.

She stated she is knowledgeable about economics, planning and public policy. She knows a lot of people.

The new Superintendent needs to have three qualities: “the ability to communicate ... a systems approach, [the department] is the largest business in the State ... ability to build partnerships (community outreach). The number one goal: Race to the Top.” Question: What are you priorities for the budget? “Continue efficiencies, maintain and increase money to classrooms.”

Question: Do you support the decision to close rural schools? “I was surprised that rural schools were chosen first. [We should] consolidate schools that are close together.”

Question: How would you handle bullying and teach tolerance and diversity? “Continue variety of activities which show individual strength which reduces bullying.”

Ms. Bryant-Hunter stressed “Race to the Top” and increasing the number and frequency of student assessments.

The Race to the Top website states that the funding program focuses on four ares:

(1) Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;

(2) Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;

(3) Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and

(4) Turning around our lowest-achieving schools. ...

Assessment starts with robust data systems that track student achievement and teacher effectiveness from pre–K through college. Teachers need this data to better target instruction to students. Principals need to know which teachers are producing the biggest gains and which may need more help.” (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html)

PAMELA YOUNG has worked as the head of accounting for the City and County of Honolulu for 18 years. She is a Certified Government Financial Manager, President HGEA Professional and Scientific Unit (7000 members) and Mililani Mauka/Luanani Neighborhood Board (founding member, served past 13 years).

I am an accountant and the board needs a variety of people including an accountant. The new Superintendent needs to be a “CEO, visionary, work well with the Governor, Legislature, Community, Unions”. Priorities: “Increase organization and technology of DOE.” Question: What should be the priorities: We have a “priority list for CIP projects.” Repair and maintenance was just “transferred from DAGS to DOE.” “All school closings are sensitive.”

Rural schools are “small, remote and historical. Discuss all schools [re closing], all cards on the table, even though it’s difficult.” She has no children.

Question: Do you support assessing math and reading only? Kids need to be proficient in the basics. Question: How would you handle bullying and teach tolerance and diversity? “Schools are responsible for having a safe place.”

ROGER KIYOSHI TAKABAYASHI has served as an industrial arts and physical education teacher for 40 years, as president of the HSTA for 6 years, and current serves as a member of the board of directors for the National Education Association. He is currently Student Service Coordinator at Farrington High School.

Biggest Education Issue: "I think one of the main elements right now is the No Child Left Behind [NCLB] law and Hawaii's effort to be in compliance with everything we possibly can right now. And now we've added the Race to the Top to that. We've been stigmatized as having all these failing schools because we couldn't really reach the NCLB goals, but if you think about it, no state in the nation has reached the goals or will reach the goals. I think we need a voice in there to provide reality check: We're here to serve the children of Hawaii. I think in an effort to elevate everything, we have elevated ourselves out of the ballpark. And we need to set realistic standards and realistic goals and communicate those to the public."

The number one issue is the policy and direction of the BOE and the administrative budget. The new Superintendant needs to focus on human resources. DOE has 13,000 teachers, 6,000 administrators and other people. “Race to the Top – federal funds – will dry up in a year or two. No Child Left Behind reauthorization” was supposed to have happened a few years ago and “has not occurred.”

Question: How can we improve the quantity and quality of teachers? “Difficult to recruit because of salary, cost of living. Higher compensation needed.” “Need source of revenue. The GET is $2.7B. Schools $2.4B. DOE has $300M shortfall.” Dedicated General Excise Tax for schools instead of depending on Legislative handouts.

Question: Do you support the decision to close rural schools? “I support the small rural schools. Students from small schools are more nurtured, they feel more free to approach teachers. I support small schools.” Question: Do you support assessing math and reading only? “BOE has established Algebra 2 for the future. Detrimental to graduation.” “I have one child. Punahou K-12.”

How would you handle bullying and teach tolerance and diversity? We have “bully proof program. [bullying] not tolerated, not acceptable.” Question: Do you support teacher qualifications based on performance? We have Model O, was Model A, B, C now Model O. If fully implemented the cost would be quite extensive.

NOELA ANDRES-NANCE had spunk and passion, although she forgot a few questions and needed them repeated, including the first question which Neal emailed to everyone.

Question: What should be the qualities of the new Superintendent? “She is willing to be accountable and articulate a vision.” “We need fiscal accountability ... [this is] most crucial, less bureaucracy, where do we spend the $11,000/student” We need a breakdown. “We need assessment data” “I have two children one in public school one in public charter school. I home schooled my two children for 10 years.”

Question: How would you handle bullying and teach tolerance and diversity? “Zero tolerance for bullying. Not tolerated. Not acceptable.” “According to Newsweek, teaching is the only occupation insulated from accountability.”

According to Newsweek we hire teachers from the lower third of high school graduates while Finland hires from the top 10%.

(The source for her quotes was: Newsweek (March 5, 2010): "Why We Must Fire Bad Teachers: In no other profession are workers so insulated from accountability" by Evan Thomas (Newsweek Editor at Large) and Pat Wingert (Newsweek Washington bureau) with Eve Conant and Sam Register. www.newsweek.com/2010/03/05/why-we-must-fire-bad-teachers.html)

Ms. Andrews-Nance is finishing her bachelor's degree. "You can't separate faith from your profession, your entertainment, that's all in one. So, yes, faith does have a place in government," (www.kitv.com/news/24683287/detail.html) Facebook: “Christian Academy P.T.F. One of our own is running for Board of Education” Youtube: “Noela Nance-First Assembly of God, Red Hill. Noela shares how the worship and the presence of the Spirit of the Lord drew her family to this church seven years ago. She also describes how the church aims to be the hands and the feet of the Lord to each other and the greater body of Christ by practical applications of His love.” (http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=uCcCnAni96g&feature=related)

KIM COCO IWAMOTO is the only incumbent running for re-election to an at large seat.

"My priority has always been and will continue to be students first. That means maximizing educational opportunities for every student. I feel we have the chance to offer educational opportunities that enrich education for every child in Hawaii. From a more technical standpoint, I think we need to continue down path of data collection and data decision-making that we're on now. We should have reliable data that we can base decisions on, so we can see, for example, which of the models for restructuring schools worked and why."

“I went to BOE meetings for 6 months before elected” in 2006.

Question: What should be the qualities of the new Superintendent? The Board had a special workshop. Manager or change agent? The school budget is $2.4B with budget reductions to $1.7B. Set goals collaboratively.

Question: How can we improve the quantity and quality of teachers? Nurses make more than teachers with 20 year experience. We need higher pay. The cost of living is Hawaii is 39% above the national average according to the US Census. Teachers make 1% above the national average.

Question: For every 100 ninth graders, 68 graduate, 40 go to college, 24 survive to the second year and 12 graduate. How can we improve these numbers? “The graduation numbers are 74.9% for the US and 76% for Hawaii. Reach out to every student, a lot of extracurricular activities, make schools more relevant ... increase graduation.”

Question: New public schools get $2M while Charter Schools get nothing. Would you change this? “I support public schools and high performing charter schools. Same rate of struggle and success. Governor/Legislature fund Charter Schools, not BOE.”

Question: Do you support assessing math and reading only? “Tests measure how students do and how teachers are doing. It is a tool, not a tool of judgment but a tool of improvement. We lose the magic of education when we get too focused on standardized tests.”

“I am a foster parent of four children. All four went to public school.” I think everyone should read “Going Against the Grain: When Professionals in Hawaii Choose Public Schools Instead of Private Schools” by Ann Shea Bayer. It’s about Hawai‘i professionals choosing public education for their children in a state that adheres to a commonly held belief that “public schools are failing and private schools are succeeding. Hawai`i has three of the five International Baccalaureate schools in the U.S.

Question: How would you handle bullying and teach tolerance and diversity? “We need to look closer at tolerance and respect. The data is very sad. So many students report being bullied and harassed.”

Question: Do you support teacher qualifications based on performance? The Board has been discussing this. 40 years of studies. It works for mechanical tasks; for cognitive and creative tasks the opposite is true. Professional development and feedback works better.” Support greater funding for arts: “art is a tool to reach out and integrate into other areas.”

MALCOLM KIRKPATRICK is a self employed math tutor who was with the US Navy and who ran for office in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and is “0/6”. He would “abolish the Teacher Standards Board. Allow principals to determine teacher credential requirements. Offer credit by exam for all courses. Mandate that schools must hire parents, on personal service contracts, to provide for their children's education, if the parents apply for the contract. Make payment contingent on performance on commercially available standardized tests.”

“I have no children. I would home school if I did. In Hawaii, juvenile arrests fall when school is not in session. Juvenile hospitalizations for human-induced trauma fall when school is not in session.” (http://harriettubmanagenda.blogspot.com/)

“I am not here to preserve the system.” “All governments make more promises than they can keep. We’re going to have to break some of them.” “I encourage parents to home school.” “What works is an empirical question that only experience can answer.” We need many small schools to test different ideas.

Kirkpatrick campaign literature: "Civic 101 Quiz ... What role did anti-Catholic bigotry play in the formation of the U.S. (or Hawaii) State school system."

ROBERTA PHILLIPS MAYOR was very professional.

Question: What should be the qualities of the new Superintendent? “Real business of education occurs in every school room, inspire students, emphasis on classes. Most pressing issue: increase public confidence in schools. On-line feedback system.” Inspire staff, support education goals in classrooms.

Question: How can we improve the quantity and quality of teachers? Teacher quality is number 1. Caring, nurturing, paid appropriately, continual development of teachers,” that is, teachers should continue to study to learn the latest about their fields and to develop personally.

Question: For every 100 ninth graders, 68 graduate, 40 go to college, 24 survive to the second year and 12 graduate. How can we improve these numbers? Supports school use of assessment data and teacher collaborative, link classes to real world experiences. We need sequential assessments, self-assessment for schools, development strategies for principals.

Ms. Mayor was a classroom teacher at Waipahu High School, principal at Waipahu Intermediate School and Waianae High School, and as a district and state level administrator in both Hawaii and California. She graduated from McKinley High School, and earning Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees from the University of Hawaii. She served as Interim Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District (2008-09), and as the Hawaii DOE Educational Director, represented the DOE with print/television media & at Legislative hearings, 1987-1992. (http://robertamayor.com/)


Aloha Henry ~
Thank you for doing the work our traditional media should be doing ... but this is also why newspaper publishers are going out of business. This is excellent coverage and provides the detail citizens need to make informed decision.

Much MAHALO to you!!!

Henry, Thanks for this valuable public service. I'm passing it along to others.
You have helped me decide who to vote for.
Doc Berry

Thank you Henry, this is a valuable public service and I'll pass it on as widely as I can. Bill Sager

did any candidates for the Second School Board Disstrict (Hawaii, Maui, & Kauai) show up or were invited? Could you find out some info about R.Ray hart, Leona Rocha-Wilson and/or Barry Wurst, please?

Let's vote for one who knows proper use of apostrophes.

Big mahalo Henry! ive been searching high & low for BOE candidate info and...there u r. Thank u so much for doing the reporting no one else seem to care enough to do ( however, when the StarAdvertiser attempt is made, the article falls embarrassingly short , journalism be damned). Thank goodness for u & those respected men & women with wit & clarity of mouse to key pad to keep us abreast of the issues albeit electronically. Journalism is alive & well, just not on paper.
Aloha, ginger

Darn, I already sent in my ballot and vote for no one in this race.

Thank you so much!! I was lost in this vote and found your blog by accident. You made a huge difference and I can vote with some confidence now.

Aloha, Cindy

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Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

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