VIEWPOINT: True Change & Accountability are Needed to End the Education Crisis

August 15, 2010

By JUSTIN HUGHEY

When it comes to the challenges faced by this state, perhaps nothing is as big as our crisis in education, especially considering that our children are our future.

As a 34-year-old teacher fed up with the embarrassing and worsening lack of support for our schools, I am running for the 8th District House seat in the state Legislature. My goal is to provide the keiki of Central Maui, as well as all of Hawaii, a true and unwavering voice for education reform that will give us a school system second to none instead of second to last. As one who works with kids daily and cares about their future, I have seen firsthand the ongoing frustrations with the status quo that puts the desires of back-line bureaucracies over those on the front lines trying to make our schools the best they can be. I believe that we can make an educational renaissance bloom in Hawaii if parents and teachers, with support from our community, work together to demand a true road map for reform that puts decision-making and proper resources at the school level.

My road map to an educational renaissance can be laid out using the following guideposts that will take us to one conclusion: Empower the teachers and principals at the local level and give them the tools to make the decisions and get the resources they need in the quickest time possible.

Fully fund education. (end furloughs forever). We now only have a one-year fix. The recent end to furloughs must be permanent so that no matter what happens to the economy we won’t have to go through something that was so disrupting and destructive to our kids’ educations, not to mention costing us millions of dollars in federal and private support for our schools.
Ensure local decision-making within our statewide school system.
End wasteful contracts for outside consultants.
Effectively measure student and school performance.
Conduct a fair and impartial audit of the Department of Education.
Cut DOE with a scalpel not a hatchet.
Eliminate the repair and maintenance backlog.
Make schools energy self-efficient.
Fully staff schools for a well-rounded education.
Create teacher incentives to establish and keep highly qualified teachers.
At the school where I have taught for the past five years, I have seen kids taking state assessment tests under a collapsed ceiling with rain pouring in because the state did not release funds to meet the growing repair and maintenance deficits of our schools. This is totally unacceptable. Moving these essential repairs and upgrades forward, along with ending teacher and student furloughs permanently, are our most pressing urgent needs.

While I live in Wailuku, the area I hope to represent, these education reforms are for all the children of Maui nei. The needs of kids who walk down Main and High streets in Wailuku are no different than the needs of kids from Hana to Lahaina. If the kids win through a school system that is second to none, then we, as a society, all win as well.

We can push back against the political maneuvering that is destroying our schools and children’s future.The battle to take back our educational system begins now. Maybe by putting this teacher in the House, we can teach other elected officials a lesson that real education reform means that they never waver in their commitment to empower those in the front lines of education so that we can have the schools that our community truly deserves.

Isn’t it time we put a teacher in the House?

* Justin Hughey of Wailuku is a candidate for the 8th District (Kahakuloa-Wailuku-Waikapu) House seat.

*****

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