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Monday, October 20, 2014         

VOLCANIC ASH


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Voters spoke clearly: Let governor alone choose members of the BOE

By David Shapiro

POSTED:



Barely a week after voters decided by a wide margin to abolish the elected Board of Education in favor of a panel appointed by the governor, some elected members are lobbying for appointment to the new board.

In the Legislature, which must set the appointment process, there's talk of allowing current elected members to be eligible without going through the usual screening process.

Hopefully, Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie, who will ultimately name the new school board, will nip this godawful idea in the bud.

The vote of 57.4 percent to 42.6 percent in favor of an appointed Board of Education was an unequivocal repudiation of the work of the current board.

It would thwart the clearly expressed will of the electorate to reconstitute any part of the old elected board as the new appointed board -- especially by keeping in power the leaders who gave us the Furlough Friday fiasco that fueled voter anger.

Voters said loud and clear that they want change in the way our struggling public schools are governed, and they deserve to get it without delay. There's no need for an extended transition that only extends the board's dysfunction.

To give us the same old same-old in the face of a clear mandate for change would strip Abercrombie of his own credibility as the agent of change he presented himself to be.

And if we're to get what we voted for, the Legislature must rethink its plan for a convoluted selection process that defeats the accountability that a governor-appointed school board is supposed to provide.

Under a bill vetoed by Gov. Linda Lingle this year and expected to emerge again in the next Legislature, the governor would be limited to appointing school board members from a list provided by a seven-member advisory panel that could provide the governor as few as two choices per open seat.

The advisory panel would be named primarily by the P-20 Council, an unofficial group made up of the Department of Education, the University of Hawaii and various community and business organizations with interests in education.

The constitutional amendment was intended to allow the governor to pick the most qualified people available to govern our schools -- and be held accountable for the results.

The Legislature's scheme thwarts accountability by effectively stripping appointment power from the governor and handing it to a council that's self-selecting and accountable to nobody.

Such lack of clear accountability is what has always protected the interests of adult "stakeholders" in the public schools over the interests of our children.

The governor should be able to select a Board of Education from the best talent in the state without arbitrary limitations. Senate confirmation of his choices provides sufficient check and balance.

David Shapiro can be reached at volcanicash@gmail.com or blog.volcanicash.net.

 






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