Lingle renews push to revamp schools


POSTED: Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The public wants to hold elected leaders accountable for education in Hawaii, says Gov. Linda Lingle, renewing her push to change Hawaii's educational structure.

Lingle told leaders and executives of the state's 31 charter schools meeting at the Waikiki Marriott yesterday that governance of the public schools is divided four ways: among the school board, superintendent of education, Legislature and governor.

Each cannot take on sole responsibility for public schools, with the Legislature appropriating the money, the governor allocating it, the superintendent spending it and school board picking the superintendent, Lingle said.

If the superintendent were under the direction of the governor, there would be a clear chain of command, she said.

“;This is an important change. I believe the public will want to vote on this issue. This holds someone accountable,”; Lingle said. “;The superintendent should report to the governor.

“;Whomever the next governor is, they would be able to impact education because they would be able to hire and fire the superintendent of education. The public would know exactly who to hold accountable,”; Lingle said.

The governor said she would introduce legislation next year to give charter schools financial parity with other public schools.

Lingle said if the Legislature appropriated a specific amount of money for each student, the money should follow the student no matter if it were to a traditional school or a charter school.

Lingle said a superintendent of education within the governor's Cabinet would have to follow the governor's wishes on charter schools.

“;You can say, 'This is how the charter schools are going to be treated,' and if people don't like it, they can vote you out of office,”; Lingle said.

In the past, Lingle has failed to find backing for her proposal to split the statewide school board into smaller panels.