Lawmakers hope to shake-up public education - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lawmakers hope to shake-up public education

Lyla Berg Lyla Berg
Garrett Toguchi Garrett Toguchi

By Duane Shimogawa bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's a public education shake-up. Lawmakers hope to change the way the Board of Education is chosen. But some say it's just fine the way it is.

Right now, the board is made up of elected members, but some lawmakers want to change the way the board is chosen. They also want the student board member to have a stronger voice.

If some lawmakers get their way, Hawaii's public education system may undergo a drastic makeover.

"We feel at this moment because not only the furlough issue but because of the need to really look at how the Department of Education spends money, how it is managed, how the instruction is at the classroom level," State representative Lyla Berg said.

Berg is behind two education bills in the house. Instead of electing board members, the governor would appoint them.

The second bill decides who is on the board, how they'd be selected and what role the student member and the governor would play.

"It appears to be time to restructure and re-think the Board of Education operates," Berg said. "The Board of Education is supposed to be a policy making body, not micro-managing the daily activities at a school level or in a classroom."

An advisory council would nominate the board, give the names to the governor, who'd choose candidates and allow the senate to confirm them.

Board chair, Garrett Toguchi is against these bills. He says it's a knee-jerk reaction to Furlough Fridays.

"Legislators need to get more educated before they make a final vote on whether or not they want an appointed board bill," he said. "Is this something that's gonna improve education or is it something that seems like change for change sake?"

Berg also wants the student board member to have voting privileges.

"There are those of us who really believe our youth matter and that they're smart enough to sit at the table with us," she said.

These bills still have a long way to go. They've gone through two committees, with another one to go before a full house floor vote.

Berg also hopes to cut the number of board members by three and still keep the neighbor islands well-represented.

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