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Friday, March 17, 2000

Hawaii State Seal

Forum to focus on
school options

House panel rejects attempt to
exempt accountability system

By Crystal Kua


Improving learning through small schools and other alternatives in the public schools will be the focus of an education forum scheduled for tomorrow.

Legislature 2000 "There are ways to approach large school situations other than having to build smaller schools, which is going to take awhile," said Kapaa Elementary Principal Cliff Bailey, one of the forum's speakers. "I'd like the public to know that there are alternatives to too big and too impersonal schools but not without some support."

Sponsored by the state House Republicans, "School Choices Forum" takes place from 9 to 11 a.m. in the state Conference Room 312 at the state Capitol. The forum is free and open to the public.

"Parents who cannot afford to pay private school tuition are deprived of choice," said state Rep. Galen Fox (R, Waikiki). "The way to give them choice is to give it to them within the public school system."

Speakers will also include state schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu, education reform expert Mary Anne Raywid, former Kamehameha Schools trustee Oswald Stender and businessman Cliff Slater.

The panel will discuss charter schools, schools-within-schools and public school choices.

Children can become lost in large elementary schools and their ability to learn will also be affected.

"They feel lost, anxious and just overwhelmed in a cafeteria, playground, on a bus," Bailey said. "You're not going to have good learning taking place ... you have to connect with the children."

These schools can become "assembly lines," he said. "You can really become impersonal, cold, dispassionate, disconnected."

Kapaa Elementary, which has had enrollment exceed 1,000 students, organized itself into five teacher-designed, parent-selected learning communities for kindergarten to fifth grade. They received money from the state for planning and then also applied for grants.

"I think we know our students far better than we used to," Bailey said.

Raywid, who will speak about charter schools -- schools operating under a contract or charter that are free of government impediments -- said what Hawaii is currently calling charter schools aren't because these schools still have ties to the Department of Education.

House panel rejects attempt to
‘sunset’ exemption for school
accountability system

By Crystal Kua


The House Education Committee has gutted the Senate's version of a bill establishing a public school accountability system and replaced it with what's in the House's bill.

The committee passed the bill yesterday.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill would exempt a system of rewards, assistance and sanctions from the collective-bargaining law. But the Senate wants that exemption to last only three years, expiring in 2003.

The House committee's action came after it heard opposition from Gov. Ben Cayetano and state schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu to the Senate's sunset provision.

"The provision to sunset the waiver from collective bargaining after June 30, 2003, that is included in the Senate draft is wholly unacceptable and should be removed. This kind of approach merely tinkers at the edges of reform," the governor wrote in testimony to the committee.

Education Chairman Ken Ito said: "We don't believe in the sunset provision."

The collective-bargaining exemption is probably the most controversial section of the bill. Public sector unions yesterday continued their opposition to excluding the accountability system from collective bargaining.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Karen Ginoza said there are examples across the country in which collective bargaining helped to bring about reform.

LeMahieu said he doesn't want the accountability system to be bargained at the negotiating table because collective bargaining is a process that doesn't include many community groups that have a stake in education. LeMahieu said that collective bargaining isn't a collaborative process.

The committee also included in the accountability bill language from another piece of legislation considered key to LeMahieu's standard-based education reforms. That's because the so-called authority bill -- which sets up a group that would identify rules, policies and procedures that are preventing the school system from managing its own affairs -- didn't cross over from the Senate.

Get involved

You can track bills, hearings and other Legislature action via:

Bullet The Legislative Reference Bureau's public access room, state Capitol, room 401. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Phone: 587-0478; fax, 587-0793; TTY, 538-9670.

Neighbor islanders, call toll-free and enter ext. 70478 after the number:

Big Island, 974-4000; Maui,

984-2400; Kauai, 274-3141;

Molokai and Lanai, 468-4644.

Bullet The state's daily Internet listing of hearings:

Bullet The Legislature's automated bill report service: 586-7000.

Bullet The state's general Web page:

Bullet Our Web site:

Legislature Directory
Hawaii Revised Statutes
Legislature Bills

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