Sunday, September 5, 2004

Ex-legislator Shon
takes charter challenge

Former state Rep. Jim Shon, associate director of the Hawaii Educational Policy Center, has been chosen to head the state Charter Schools Administrative Office.

Jim Shon

Age: 57
Birthplace: Syracuse, N.Y.
Previous jobs:
>> Associate director, Hawaii Educational Policy Center, University of Hawaii
>> Member, Hawaii House of Representatives, 1984-1996. Health chairman.
>> Program coordinator, Ke Ola O Hawaii, Health Profession Education Program
Educational background: Ph.D, political science, University of Hawaii

The Board of Education chose Shon late Thursday from a list of four candidates recommended by the Hawaii Charter Schools Network for the position, which oversees the 27 charter schools in Hawaii.

"He's a good fit," Board Chairman Breene Harimoto said yesterday. "He's been in the Legislature, he knows the ins and outs of it, and his style of collaboration is something that charter schools as well as the board really appreciate."

The state Legislature created the position last year to oversee charter schools, which are public schools that operate with their own school boards, free of many state regulations. It pays $85,000 a year.

The job has inherent tension built into it, because the director serves as the official advocate for the charter schools while also overseeing them on behalf of the Board of Education.

The first person to take the post, former deputy state attorney general Dewey Kim, abruptly resigned in June just five months after he was appointed, citing that challenge among other reasons.

Shon just completed a study on "Funding Charter Schools" for the Hawaii Educational Policy Center at the University of Hawaii. That report recommends, among other things, that the state budget include capital improvement money for charter schools, which now are responsible for their own facilities.

Shon, who served 12 years in the state Legislature, said he hopes to work with lawmakers to resolve funding questions.

"It's a very challenging role to play, but a necessary one," Shon said. "It's important for people to recognize that all charter schools are public schools, their employees are public employees and students are public school students, and all of them deserve as much support as anybody."

State Department of Education
State Board of Education


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