Friday, January 22, 1999

Six schools try
new strategy for raising
academic standards

The BOE allots $390,000
for the schools to join
'America's Choice'

By Crystal Kua


A third-grade student writes a paper in narrative form about an important memory.

By successfully completing this example assignment, the student meets several writing and reading standards and hits a target.

Setting high academic standards and helping schools reach those standards is the goal of America's Choice School Design, a national standards reform model.

The Board of Education yesterday approved a $390,000 contract for these schools to participate in America's Choice: Ewa Beach Elementary, Highlands Intermediate, Honowai Elementary, Nanakuli Elementary, Waipahu Elementary and Honaunau Elementary and Intermediate.

"I do think that student performance will be measurably better if these schools are able to implement the design effectively," said Joseph Garcia, spokesman for the Washington D.C.-based National Center on Education and the Economy, the parent of America's Choice. "We're going to work real hard with them to make sure that happens."

Hawaii education officials involved in bringing the program here told the school board that America's Choice will better prepare these schools to implement Hawaii's own set of standards.

"It is a different mode of doing things but we think it's one very effective way of addressing the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards," Honowai Elementary principal Curtis Young said.

Three schools will each get $50,000 in federal funding and $15,000 in state money. The remaining schools will receive $65,000 each in state funds.

"What this project does is really hones in on the specific standards that need to be addressed and fulfilled," Young told the board.

Officials say the standards are clear for parents, teachers and students.

"That's the first part -- establishing the standards and having an assessment that measures that performance," Garcia said.

The bulk of the funds for the first year of the three-year program will go to training. "If for some reason we were not able to carry out (the full three years), key staff people at the school would be able to train peers and colleagues in standards-based education," Garcia said.

Other components include assignments to help students reach standards, setting aside a 2-1/2-hour block of time each day for literacy, and having a teacher stay with a group of students for as many as three years for accountability.

About 40 schools across the nation are signed up for America's Choice, but hundreds have used components previously, Garcia said.

Mother tells school
board a principal
choked her son

She said her 9-year-old's Mililani
Waena principal 'throttled' the boy

By Crystal Kua



A mother appeared before the Board of Education last night and accused her son's former principal of choking the 9-year-old boy last year.

The mother said after the meeting that the Mililani Waena principal, Gervacio Buenconsejo, "throttled" the boy's neck after the boy became involved in the second altercation within a week with another student.

"I have no comment," Buenconsejo told the Star-Bulletin this morning.

The woman said her son had red marks on his neck as a result of Aug. 28 incident.

She said her son, a special education student who is autistic, bit another boy on Aug. 24.

Four days later, her son became involved in another altercation with another child which led to the principal choking the boy, the mother said.

She said she did not call the police right away, but did report the incident to the Department of Education.

She eventually did file a police report but prosecutors have told her that there is not enough evidence to pursue prosecution because there were no witnesses to the alleged choking incident and there were no marks on the boy when police became involved, the mother said.

"He did apologize to us," she said, but they felt he was not sincere.

The mother said she went to the school board out of concern that the principal was still at the school.

School Superintendent Paul LeMahieu spoke to the mother during a break in the meeting. He declined to discuss the matter with reporters, but the mother said LeMahieu told her that he would be investigating.

The woman said her son is now attending another public school.

Ed board OKs guidelines
for school publications

A policy for school-sponsored student publications that came about after two yearbook controversies was approved last night by the Board of Education.

The policy says student editors and staff of school-sponsored publications have the authority to determine the content of publications within legal and other limits.

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