The State of Hawaii Department of Education, led by Superintendent Pat Hamamoto, is seeking the power to replace teachers, principals, and staff at some campuses that have been failing the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. The state legislative proposal would allow the Hawaii DOE to intervene at public schools deemed deficient in achieving academic standards established by the controversial No Child Left Behind federal legislation.
Hamamoto and the DOE suggest that the best strategy for ensuring that Hawaii’s children “achieve standards” in reading and math might be to just terminate the employment of principals, teachers and staff at targeted schools. Furthermore, Hamamoto is suggesting that legislation be adopted to facilitate replacing these removed employees by hiring private agencies to manage this process: the road to public school privatization.
As public taxpayers and community members entrusting our public school officials with our keiki and their learning, we are obligated to take a careful, well-informed look at what is going on here:
First and foremost, and perhaps not surprising to sensible members of our community, these issues are primarily about money – not children’s healthy learning. While the federal government can and does apply its coercion by threatening to withhold federal education dollars, let us also not forget that, in the past, states have successfully refused this manipulative and often corrupted power of the federal government’s purse strings by operating their schools without federal money. It’s doubtful that this would happen in Hawaii as we seem to believe that without the Fed’s money we would all perish. Nonetheless, we are in changing times that will require our Hawaiian community to assess where these things are contributing and where they are debilitating the public good of our community: we pay for this. Rhetoric of reading and math achievement and of more data is coming into significant conflict with that of educating children to be wise and productive members of our state. Additionally, public policy of hiring private agencies (with public tax dollars) bespeaks the corruption and community illness resulting from outsourcing of other federal programs for achieving standards: Iraq, among others.
What is so offensive and nefarious about the state DOE’s approach is that the very reason we taxpayers pay for this public service is to educate our children–not posture and play money-power games.
If Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi can state (with an apparently straight face):
“..there may be cases where there’s so much going on with the personalities of the school that the only way you can get around it is by maybe just replacing everybody instead of picking and choosing who you are going to replace.”
Perhaps we, the taxpayers paying for this, can suggest that managing “personalities” by replacing everybody (with private companies, no less) displays an utter disregard for the fundamental basis of enlightened public education decision-making.
You folks work for the public, right?
Dragging Hawaii’s school children through this political mess and attempting to conduct public education decision making in yet more centralized ways – more distant from our actual communities – is an outrage and shouldn’t be tolerated by us: the taxpaying public.
[Readers concerned with such issues are also encouraged to read: When Corporations Educate Our Children.]