Does Central Control of our Schools Produce Bad Policy?
by Keli'i Akina, Ph.D., President, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
While recent media reports have focused on a drop in test scores by Hawaii’s public-school students, little attention has been paid to one of the most important factors influencing educational outcomes: the actual legislative policies that govern the public schools.
According to the Report Card on American Education, 19th ed., published by ALEC (http://alec.org/docs/ReportCard_19_Edition.pdf), Hawaii has earned an overall grade of C- for school policy, down from a grade of C in 2000.
By category, Hawaii’s current report card for school policy is dismal:
- Academic Standards: C
- Homeschool Regulation Burden: C
- Private School Choice Program: F
- Policies Governing Teacher Quality: D+
- Digital Learning: D.
The research also shows that Hawaii is one of the states where the funding demonstrates how little influence the local community has over school policy. For the most recent year, 97.5% of all funding for Hawaii public schools came from the state and federal government. To serve our children, we cannot hand over control of our schools to legislators and bureaucrats. As ALEC's research demonstrates, there is a direct line between higher levels of local funding and control over school and better grades on education policy. After all, no one understands what our schools need like the parents and teachers on the ground.
Maybe it’s time to rethink Hawaii’s centrally controlled educational system.