Senate Committee on Education Chair Gives Speech on Performance Management System Bills

Senate Committee on Education Chair Jill Tokuda gave the following speech during today’s Session, defending the teacher evaluation and instructional time bills.

Colleagues, I first want to start off by thanking all of you. 

The votes I’ve asked you to take, the measures I’ve asked you to move, have by no means been easy. It’s required a great deal of political will, and at many points trust and faith in myself and our education committee to do what is best for our students. 

That being said, while today we closed the door on our performance management system bills, I continue to stand by the work we started but was unable to finish. While the fear and rhetoric seems to have clouded and distorted the facts surrounding both our evaluation and instructional time bills, let me be clear…these measures put students first and clearly stated…LEARNING MATTERS.

In stating that evaluation systems for teachers, which are already in statute and well within our collective bargaining rights as defined in Chapter 89-9, should have as a component student growth, we are saying…LEARNING MATTERS.

In looking at the definition of instructional time and refocusing the discussion from teacher contract minutes to identifying those teachable moments where students learn best and increase access to those opportunities, we are clearly and definitively saying…LEARNING MATTERS.

While Tuesday had its share of highs and lows, I went home that night reaffirmed that when a legislature takes a stand and makes a bold policy statement like principal evaluations must include student growth, our children win. It took some time, but principal evaluations tied to student achievement as prescribed in statute through Act 51, showed me it works.

When we as a legislature embrace our constitutionally defined role to provide the Board of Education with the power to formulate statewide educational policy, involved parties like our Department, the Board and Unions can and will come together to put students first and make it clear that LEARNING MATTERS.

Many of the targeted emails the unions has asked Windward District teachers to send to me has said, “You are not putting students first when you put teachers last.” While we definitely were not putting teachers last, they have to know that this isn’t all about them.  It has always been, as it always should be, about the kids.

I truly believe that if teachers look beyond the fear and rhetoric, and read the measures we’ve put forward with an open mind, they would clearly see proposals that respect teaching as a profession and in no way infringes upon their collective bargaining rights.  For years, teachers have asked to be treated, respected, and supported as professionals.  Without arguing all the specifics, that is exactly what these bills would have done. 

You know, perhaps I have a conflict of interest.  As a mother of two little boys who will be in our public schools in a few years, I want the very best for them. And I know that I’m not alone.

All of us here wants and expects nothing less than that for everyone’s child.  Which is why when we know that a student in one school receives 75 minutes less, that’s 2 months worth of instruction per year, less than a student in a school down the road, that is not acceptable. That if students in our schools are not making the kind of gains we’d like to see, are not learning, that is not acceptable. And that when business as usual, while comfortable, predictable and in some cases controllable, is not working…that is not acceptable.

So colleagues, when you get asked by constituents why.  Why did you push so hard, why did you even vote to keep those bills moving, why did you put up a fight?   You can hold your head high and say, because what we saw was not acceptable, and by putting students first…we made it clear that LEARNING MATTERS.

Listening Session with BOE Member to be Held

WAIMEA, HAWAII — The Waimea Community Association will hold its monthly town meeting on Thursday, December 1, 2011 at Parker School Theater, beginning at 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

The highlight of the town meeting will be a listening session with the Big Island’s State Board of Education (BOE) member, Brian DeLima. DeLima is among nine members who were appointed by the governor to the newly formed BOE earlier this year.

This “listening session” format is designed to help BOE members get acquainted with their respective communities and to receive feedback on issues concerning constituents.

Senator Malama Solomon urge residents to attend.

“While I have worked closely with Mr. DeLima for many years, especially in recent months to share constituents’ thoughts, hopes and concerns, there is nothing quite like discussing issues face-to-face with the families, educators, administrators and employers who depend on, live with, or provide public education services every day,” said Senator Solomon, who represents District 1, encompassing Waimea, Hamakua, South Hilo, Keaukaha and Hilo.

“Mr. DeLima brings a wealth of public policy experience to this position. Public education is the largest budget item for our state, and the size of the budget is only dwarfed by the complexity of a system that should be “the door of opportunity” for future generations.

Too often, our public education system falls short, and I hope this meeting will be an opportunity to share ideas about innovative strategies to improve academic and fiscal accountability at all levels.”

Background

Act 5, which was signed into law by the governor on March 14, 2011, gives the governor the authority to appoint nine members, which would consist of: one member from the county of Hawaii, one member from the county of Maui, one member from the county of Kauai, three members from the city and county of Honolulu, and three at-large-members; provided that the governor select an at-large member as the chairperson.

Voters in the 2010 General Election approved a constitutional amendment calling for an appointed, rather than elected, Board of Education.

Senator Kahele Hosts Education Forum

WAIAKEA, BIG ISLAND — Senator Gilbert Kahele will be hosting an Education Forum, featuring the Hawai‘i County’s State Board of Education (BOE) Vice-Chairman, Brian De Lima, on Friday, December 2, 2011, beginning at 5:30 p.m. It will take place at the Waiakea High School Cafeteria (155 W. Kawili Street).

De Lima, who is among nine members who were appointed by the governor to the newly formed BOE earlier this year, will give an update on current Board of Education issues followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

“This forum is an opportunity for constituents to express their concerns regarding issues surrounding our state education system,” said Senator Gilbert Kahele, who represents District 2. “This is a chance for residents to engage in a thoughtful discussion with Mr. De Lima.”

Education Forum with Board of Education Member

Brian J. De Lima (Vice Chairman, Hawai‘i County)

Friday, December 2, 2011

5:30 p.m.

Waiakea High School Cafeteria

155 W. Kawili Street

Background:

Act 5, which was signed into law by the governor on March 14, 2011, gives the governor the authority to appoint nine members, which would consist of: one member from the County of Hawai‘i, one member from the County of Maui, one member from the County of Kaua‘i, three members from the City and County of Honolulu, and three at-large-members; provided that the governor select an at-large member as the chairperson.

Voters in the 2010 General Election approved a constitutional amendment calling for an appointed, rather than elected, Board of Education.

Hawaii State Senate Confirms its First Board of Education Members

Senators congratulate the newly confirmed Board of Education members after they unanimously voted to confirm them.

HONOLULU- The State Senate today confirmed Hawaii’s first appointed Board of Education. The members were appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie with the advise and consent of the Senate.

Act 5, which was signed into law by the governor on March 14, 2011, gives the governor the authority to appoint nine members, which would consist of: one member from the county of Hawaii, one member from the county of Maui, one member from the county of Kauai, 3 members from the city and county of Honolulu, and three at-large-members; provided that the governor select an at-large member as the chairperson.

“While each of the appointees are impressive in their own right and have talked about their vision and tangible plans for building upon our successes and making our school communities even better, I believe their real strength will lie in their ability to work together as a cohesive and committed group focused on bringing about real change,” said Jill Tokuda, chair of the committee.

“Sitting through the seven hours of confirmation hearings was like watching the pieces of a puzzle come together-and in the end, I believe everyone who witnessed the events walked away excited and hopeful, with a clear picture of what this board envisioned for the future,” said Tokuda

The appointees are:

Don Horner, chief executive officer and chairman of First Hawaiian Bank. Governor Abercrombie chose Horner to serve on the elected BOE to fill a vacancy on Feb. 9, and has designated him to serve as chair of the BOE.

Brian De Lima, attorney and former Hawaii County Council Member

Wesley Lo, chief executive officer at Maui Memorial Medical Center.

Kim Gennaula, philanthropy director at the Kapiolani Health Foundation

Jim Williams, administrator and CEO of the Hawaii Employer-Union Benefits Trust Fund (retired)

Nancy Budd, attorney and a member of the Kauai Planning and Action Alliance Public Education Action Team

Charlene Cuaresma, associate director of the UH Manoa Graduate Professional Access Program

Cheryl Kauhane Lupenui, former chief executive officer of the YWCA on Oahu

Keith Amemiya, executive administrator and secretary of the Board of Regents

The board, which is composed of all volunteers, has set their first meeting on April 26, 2011.

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