Donna Ikeda, Clueless

Katherine Poythress covers education for Civil Beat, an attempt at a viable (i.e., paying) new media news and comment enterprise. Poythress called various Board of Education candidates to hear their opinions on the proposal to shift from the current elected Board of Education to an appointed Board. She found Donna Ikeda's views worthy of publication.

Katherine Poythress writes...
"In all those years, no matter what we did, no matter what we'd try — and it's funny because they talk about education reform and reinventing education today, and we've tried that many, many times — nothing has gotten better," Ikeda told Civil Beat.

From Ikeda's perspective, the board has become mired in petty politics. And without an effective board, even the most well-intentioned reforms for Hawaii's schools will go nowhere.
As the closing comment indicates, Donna Ikeda expects "well-intentioned" top-down control to enhance overall system performance. Many people in Hawaii apparently agree. This widespread compulsion to control others, which the Statewide school district enables, is the reason "nothing has gotten better".

In The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell speculated that socialist leanings originate in a hypertrophied sense of order, like compulsive handwashing or people who sort the socks and underwear drawer ten times a day. Elsewhere (e.g., "Raffles and Mrs Blandish", "Inside the Whale"), Orwell suggested that a preference for authoritarian politics originates in vicarious sadism. In Socialism, Ludwig Von Mises suggested that the socialist orientation originates in a primitive revenge fantasy. The Russian mathematician Igor Shafarevitch advanced a similar argument in The Socialist Phenomenon.

System performance measures summarize student performance measures. Student performance depends on policy variables, things which policymakers can manipulate like budgets and teacher credentials, and non-policy variables, which policymakers cannot manipulate, like heredity, prenatal nutrition, parent SES, and a supportive home environment. The key policy variable which determines student performance is student motivation. Policies which enhance student motivation will enhance system performance.

Schools give to many students no reason to do what schools require. Training an artistically or mechanically inclined child for an academic career using a transcript as the incentive is like teaching a cat to swim using carrots as the reward. It does not take 12 years at $10,000 per pupil-year to teach a normal child to read and compute. Compulsory unpaid labor is slavery, black or white, male or female, young or old.

Gandhi opposed compulsory attendance at school. He argued that parents are the natural teachers of children. Children, especially young children, will work their hearts out for the love of their parents. Older children will work for social reasons, for the love of their preferred subject, for freedom, or for rewards of which politicians and Professors of Education have no clue.

Size matters. The structure of the Hawaii education industry, encoded in the Hawaii Revised Statutes, is a policy variable. So long as remote authorities impose their designs on schools, the system will abide in the national cellar.

Update: misspelling of "Poythress" corrected.

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