Teacher standards board slammed


POSTED: Tuesday, March 03, 2009
This story has been corrected. See below.

The state auditor recommends that the Legislature dismantle the independent teacher standards board it created 14 years ago and return teacher licensing responsibility to the Board of Education.

In a scathing report made public yesterday, Auditor Marian Higa said the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board “;is in a state of confusion.”; The auditor said the validity of about 3,800 teacher licenses is in question and federal funding is jeopardized because the board has lagged in developing a program that requires professional growth for a teacher to be re-licensed.

“;The BOE is the employer, and if they become the licensing authority, it is a conflict of interest,”; responded Jonathan Guillentine, chairman of the standards board and a teacher at Benjamin Parker Elementary School.

The auditor “;falsely holds the board responsible”; to meet federal No Child Left Behind requirements to receive funding, according to a written rebuttal issued by the board.

“;The federal government holds states and school districts, not licensing agencies, responsible for ensuring that 'highly qualified' teachers are hired,”; said the board in a news release.

Guillentine said the board did develop “;rigorous, quality-driven standards”; in line with those of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. He said the program for renewal of teacher licenses will be launched in April requiring “;teachers to show continued growth just as doctors and lawyers must.”; Teachers must demonstrate knowledge of the subject they teach as well as extend their education, publish in their field, participate in regional or national conferences or achieve national board certification. A pilot program has been running since September.

Teachers must apply every five years for renewal of their teaching licenses. Without a renewal program in effect, the board has extended licenses beyond their expiration date.

The auditor said that practice has violated state law since 2003, rendering all licenses extended since then invalid. “;Seven years after assuming the licensing function, the board has neither an effective initial or renewal licensing program in place,”; said the auditor report.

“;We want teachers to be 100 percent sure that if their licenses have been extended, they are valid,”; said Guillentine.

He said the board is advised by the state attorney general's office.

The auditor said that the board, which is attached to the state Department of Education for administration purposes, should not be placed in that state department because, unlike other licensing boards, its purpose is not to protect the consumer from harm, but rather “;designed to enhance the profession of teaching.”;

The education departments at the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University and Chaminade University opposed a bill that would put the licensing function under the school board in testimony last month, said Guillentine, who received a National Association of Early Childhood Educators award as an outstanding teacher.





        » The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board is attached to the state Department of Education for administration purposes. A story yesterday on Hawaii Page 5 incorrectly said the board was administered under the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.