From the BOE: Making student achievement a statewide priority

Posted on Jul 27, 2017 in Capitol Connection, Featured

If being a new schools superintendent is a tough job, then the next toughest may be serving as chair of the board that hired her. That was First Hawaiian Bank executive vice president Lance Mizumoto’s task less than two years into his term at the Board of Education (BOE). Now, as the new school year begins, he and the board are looking forward to welcoming Dr. Kishimoto and providing a successful transition.

BOE chair Lance Mizumoto

“The board was entrusted by the community to find the best candidate,” he said. “Being local was one of the many factors we took into account, but it wasn’t the (determining) factor. We feel Dr. Kishimoto has the right combination of experience, knowledge, focus, temperment and sensitivity to implement a strategic vision for education change.” He said the board was also impressed with Kishimoto’s ability to engage with many different community stakeholders during the selection process, and Mizumoto noted that she has experience working with diverse ethnic populations.

Mizumoto said he and the board saw as one of Kishimoto’s strengths that she had been the superintendent of two different school districts in two diverse states — Connecticut and Arizona — and has a national perspective on helping improve student achievement. “Her experience can bring new perspectives on how we support our schools,” he said.

Moloka‘i’s Kualapu‘u School robotics team, who took 2nd place in the 2017 VEX IQ World Championship against 272 teams from 30 countries.

The top issue from the board’s perspective is closing the achievement gap of different student groups, Mizumoto said. “We’ve made some progress, but it hasn’t been enough.” He said it’s important to understand the scope of the challenge for the schools, including working with immigrant families, special education and low-income students, and having a shortage of qualified teachers. Mizumoto said other high priority areas for the BOE include recruitment and retention of qualified teachers, with more professional development and mentoring of first-year teachers; equity and excellence for all students; more budget transparency and accountability for how the DOE is using resources; and making education relevant to help prepare students for college and careers. Mizumoto said the statewide outreach by the Governor’s ESSA team and the DOE showed him how many people care about improving education in Hawai‘i. “In the two years I’ve been board chair, I’ve never received so many offers of help and support for our schools.”

Read more in our August issue