Honolulu Star-Advertiser Op-Ed: Reshaping schoolhouse invests in state

Posted on Feb 13, 2017 in Latest News, Newsroom, Press Releases

By Gov. David Y. Ige

What I can tell you is this: The future of our state depends on a public education system that includes the basics and adds new skills that prepare all of our people to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

We must remodel our schoolhouse to enable our society to thrive in the future.

When you remodel a house, you make substantial changes. You think about your family’s needs today and for the future. You manage the cost of remodeling today with the hopes and dreams for the future. And after the dust settles, the new design helps you meet the challenges to come.

That’s what I see as the promise of a “remodeled” school system for Hawaii – for future generations and the future of our state.

The good news is that we won’t have to start remodeling our schoolhouse from scratch.

In 2010 voters made it clear that they wanted the governor to take ultimate responsibility for public education in this state. I accept that responsibility. That’s why I appointed people to the Board of Education who I know will make decisions that are always in the best interest of our students.

I challenged the board to deliver a new strategic plan that builds on what’s working and fixes what doesn’t. They responded to my challenge. The board worked with the community and the Department of Education to develop a plan that focuses on leveling the playing field so each community and its students have a clear path to excellence.

David Ige is governor of Hawaii. photo: Star-Advertiser

It’s not only test scores that matter but also the ability of graduates to shape better communities using the critical thinking, creative and entrepreneurial skills they learned and exercised in school.

The board determined that renovating the system requires a fresh mindset and initiated a search for a new superintendent. I fully support this decision.

In addition to the board’s significant remodeling plans, I took advantage of new federal legislation that gave governors in each state the opportunity to listen to their communities and maximize education opportunities and possibilities.

I convened a group of volunteers, including award-winning teachers, current and former principals, and business leaders, to develop a Blueprint for Public Education. Thousands of people participated in last summer’s Education Summit and dozens of follow-up meetings throughout the state.

The Blueprint focuses on school empowerment. Specifically, this means that those who are closest to the students and understand best how they are motivated make many of the instructional decisions.

It means making teachers a part of reshaping the curriculum and instructional programs to ground students in the basics and get them ready for the 21st century.

It means schools are given time to collaborate, conduct research and analyze information. It means allowing decisions about expenditure of resources to be made at the school level. It means a central office that supports the schools rather than focusing on compliance.

Taken together, the board’s strategic plan and the volunteer team’s Blueprint provide a strong framework for remodeling Hawaii’s school system. Making these changes is the practical, sensible work we need to do to update our system for a world of changing challenges.

We don’t know what the next innovation wave will bring, and there will be more to come. But we do know that we need to make changes to Hawaii’s public education system so all of our people will be prepared to ride it. Our quality of life and our state’s future prosperity depend on a successful remodeling of the system.