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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Education Institute of Hawaii: 'Voice of Hawaii School Principals'
By News Release @ 7:01 PM :: 6659 Views :: Education K-12

NEW EDUCATION INSTITUTE TO EXPLORE WAYS OF EMPOWERING OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

First Initiative: Sending Delegation of Educators to Observe Public School Systems on Mainland and in Canada

News Release from Education Institute of Hawaii September 23, 2014

HONOLULU – The Education Institute of Hawaii, a public education think tank, has been formed to explore ways of empowering teachers, principals and parents in their common goal of helping each student thrive.

The new think tank will conduct studies that are independent, objective and nonpartisan, focusing on principles and practices of effectiveness. It will also gather the perspectives and insights of principals and other administrators, teachers, parent groups and community leaders through surveys and focus groups; and organize and promote public forums.

The Education Institute believes that any changes to the existing system should be research-based. To that end, it is sending a delegation from Hawaii to observe school systems that have attempted to revamp their education departments in innovative ways.

The traveling delegation will act as fact-finders and consider whether aspects of the visited systems might be worth considering for Hawaii. The trip will take place early next month while teachers and students in Hawaii are on break. Members of the delegation will attend wall-to-wall meetings each day of the trip, and will eat all their meals together so they can discuss what they are observing. They will also participate in post-trip activities in Hawaii, including a conference at which their report will be presented and discussed. (See list of members of the travel delegation and further information about the trip on the attached document.)

The Education Institute will pay for the trip using funds provided by the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation, which until now has primarily provided scholarships. Radio personality Michael W. Perry, chairman of the Takitani Foundation board, said the Takitani board intends to continue giving scholarships but decided to go further to help Island students.

“Our board decided to try something out-of-the-box, specifically to look closely at the current Hawaii DOE system, a system which too often seems to work against the interests of principals, teachers and the children,” Perry said.

The travelling delegation will focus on efforts to achieve “school empowerment,” which requires that school personnel have a greater say in instructional decisions and the deployment of resources to the classroom. In an empowered school system, teachers and principals at each school, complex, or complex area are able to adjust to the needs of their students rather than adhere to one-size-fits-all instructional directives from the state office.

“The overarching goal of the Education Institute will be improving the quality of public education in Hawaii so that more children thrive and more professionals reach their full potential as educators,” said Darrel Galera, the new institute’s executive director. “The Department of Education’s centralized bureaucracy has become dysfunctional, applying a one-size-fits-all, top-down management of schools across the state.”

Galera, who served as Moanalua High School principal for many years and was named Hawaii’s High School Principal of the Year in 2010, added that a large, centralized authority like the State Department of Education tends to suppress the ability of school principals and teachers to manage the schools where they work.

“Such a system has not been beneficial for students in Hawaii or elsewhere,” he said.

Galera and retired Kaiser High School Principal John Sosa oversaw a recent independent survey of state school principals that revealed that 88 percent of school principals surveyed believed the DOE’s central administration is not providing adequate support to the schools, and that 65 percent of principals fear retaliation by the DOE’s management bureaucracy if they don’t silently comply with central office dictates.

“As reported in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the devastating results of the independent survey, showing how little control is granted to our front-line educators and the deep dissatisfaction felt by a significant percentage of Hawaii public school principals, should be a wake-up call for the DOE, legislators and the governor’s office that this dysfunctional business-as-usual cannot continue,” Galera said. “The most damaging outcome of the present system – as reflected in the survey results – is that a principal’s ability to lead, and a teacher’s ability to teach, are being stifled.”

“The overwhelming majority of Hawaii’s public school teachers, principals and other administrators are competent professionals who want every child to receive an outstanding education,” said Randall Roth, Education Institute president and board chairman. “No individual in the current bureaucratic system wants bad outcomes for the children, but the system itself ends up shortchanging the students and frustrating the professionals. No other state has a governance structure that is similar to Hawaii’s. Only in Hawaii does the state office wield so much power over financial and instructional decisions.”

Education Institute of Hawaii Board of Directors:

• Darrel Galera, retired principal; Education Institute executive director

• Randall Roth, law professor; Education Institute president and board chairman

• John Sosa, retired principal of Kaiser High School; former superintendent of Windward and Honolulu Districts; former superintendent of a school system in the state of Washington

• Ben Cayetano, former Hawaii governor

• Joan Husted, retired Hawaii State Teachers Association executive director

• Kitty Lagareta, Communications Pacific CEO; former chair of the UH Board of Regents

• Michael W. Perry, KSSK radio show personality; board chair of Takitani Foundation

• Penelope Tom, executive director of the Hawaii Association of Secondary School Administrators; retired Kaimuki High School principal

• RandiAnn Porras-Tang, president of Hawaii Association of Secondary School Administrators; retired principal of Waialua Middle and High Schools

• Catherine Payne, retired principal of Farrington High School; former state Secondary Principal of the Year and national Milken Educator; chair of State Public Charter School Commission

• Candy Suiso, Waianae High School teacher; Milken National Educator award winner; founder of Searider Productions

• Ray L’Heureux, former assistant superintendent of Hawaii DOE

• Pierce Myers, retired Lanai High and Elementary School principal

• Marsha Alegre, retired Washington Middle School principal

Community members, educators, parents, and elected officials who would like to support the Education Institute of Hawaii can contact Darrel Galera or Randall Roth.

Detailed results of the “Voice of Hawaii School Principals” survey can be found at: bit.ly/1nZLBle

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PDF: Q&A on Delegation

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