Public education is a vital investment for Hawaii's future, and must remain a priority in our legislature. Our goal should be to provide every child, irrespective of socio-economic or geographical background, with the best education we can. This vision will take time to realize, but it is not too early to initiate a plan that I firmly believe will help get us there:
For DOE schools, we must steer policy towards streamlining bureaucracy, reducing class sizes, providing sufficient resources and training, and recruiting quality teachers who are eager and fairly compensated to excel. On Maui, I will strive to ensure timely completion of the highly-anticipated Kihei High School and protect established investments in our existing public schools. Statewide, I support policy that incentivizes teachers to achieve excellence and nurture personal connections with their students; I further support policy that deters indolence and disengagement between teachers and their students. We must start treating our teachers as professionals.
For charter schools, recently enacted law has lifted the cap for the number of charter schools in Hawaii and allows the DOE to transfer vacant schools to charter school administration. Next legislative session, barriers for growth must be eliminated in order to expand the outreach of effective leadership and reduce the risk of unnecessarily opening new institutions. Kihei Charter School serves as a model for a successful charter school that has potential to create tremendous opportunity for the students of South Maui with continued funding in line with its growth.
We must stop the finger pointing regarding who is responsible for our students' academic successes and Hawaii's future economy. Instead, we must work together for our keiki. I support partnerships such as the P-20 Initiative for Education--a statewide partnership led by the Early Learning Council, the Hawaii State Department of Education, and the University of Hawaii System--in order to mend seams in a child's holistic academic plan. Additionally, I will work to bridge connections between the Governor, the Board of Education, the Legislature, and the teacher's union to cut through red tape and lay the most important decisions in the hands of those with the highest stakes: teachers, parents, and students.
This vision must not relent-- emphasizing public education as a legislative priority and planning for the long-run are the keys to closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged keiki and their peers. In turn, this will ensure a bright future for all our keiki and the State's workforce and economy.