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Finalists for schools chief make first appearance in Hawaii

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Linda Chen, left, and Christina Kishimoto are the two finalists for the superintendent position of Hawaii’s public schools.

The two women vying to be the next superintendent of Hawaii public schools both emphasized in their first public remarks this morning a commitment to ensuring equitable access to a high-quality education.

“This is a unique place in this country in terms of every child having access to free, public education. And a commitment is not only access, it’s about access to quality,” Christina Kishimoto, superintendent and chief executive officer of Gilbert Public Schools in Arizona, told reporters.

In Hawaii, she added, quality is “defined by a set of core values … and those core values are wrapped around community, they’re wrapped around family, they’re wrapped around the students.”

Kishimoto, 48, said what attracted her to this position was “the fact that this is a place where there is a shared vision about what we want to accomplish for all students.”

Linda Chen, the former chief academic officer for Baltimore City Public Schools who is the other finalist for the position, also underscored the importance of equity.

“Every student deserves access to strong teaching and learning experiences that prepares them for college, career, community and life,” Chen, 46, said. “I bring a love of listening and learning, a determination and commitment to equity and access for all of our students.”

She said she also recognizes the need to collaborate with communities to improve student outcomes. “Equity and strong teaching are not possible without effective partnership and engagement with the entire community,” Chen said.

Chen and Kishimoto were selected from an initial candidate pool of 92 applicants.

The board’s search committee has recommended the two finalists to the full board, which will interview the candidates at a meeting May 11. BOE Chairman Lance Mizumoto said he hopes the board will be able to reach a decision and make a job offer at that meeting, where public testimony will be accepted.

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