By now, readers can predict my answers to most questions which reporters pose in candidate surveys. The only real point of interest is the questions themselves.
A Hawaii Reporter reporter sent the below.
1.Curriculum and Student Achievement: ...Do you favor the implementation of a sequential, quality, K-12 curriculum that would tie to the state’s standards and that would allow graduates to be college-ready?
No. Children are not standard. The "standard" with the best chance of improving system performance is the parent standard: "Do I want my child in that school?" I support open enrollment across school complex areas, credit by exam for all courses required for graduation, and access to an exit exam (the GED will do) which students may take at any age, at any time.
2. Teacher and Principal Compensation: The American Federation of Teachers finds that Hawaii’s teacher starting compensation package equals $52,150, with an average of $72,682, with principals’ average compensation package at $147,000. Should teacher and principal salaries be based on seniority or performance and outcomes? Should principal performance contracts, as required under Act 51, passed in 2004, be required?
Undecided. I do not see how anyone would assess the performance of an Art teacher, for example. "What works?" is an empirical question which only an experiment can answer. In the realm of public policy, this means numerous local policy regimes or a competitive market in goods and services. A State-monopoly provider is like an experiment with one treatment and no controls: a retarded experimental design.
3. Per pupil expenditures: Hawai‘i was 13th highest among the 50 states in per-student expenditures in 2006-07: $11,060 versus a national average of $9,666. Last year, when all spending is included, Hawaii had a per-student annual spending of about $16,000. Should the Weighted Student Formula funding be increased from .49 on each dollar to ensure that more of the budget gets to schools and classrooms? Why are why not?
The location of an expense is an ambiguous concept. State-level negotiations between the Board, the Department of Budget and Finance and the HSTA produce the teacher contract. Is a teacher's paycheck a school-level expense? If the Board demands that Moanalua Intermediate hire some politician's nitwit cousin on a $50,000 do-nothing consulting contract, is this a school level expense? If the Accounting Branch puts a downtown furniture purchase on Nanakuli's budget, is this a school-level expense?
4. Staffing Formulas: Act 51 implemented a weighted student formula and requires principals spend 70 percent of the DOE operating budget, excluding debt service and capital expenditures. However, the BOE still negotiates labor agreements that include employee ratio formulas, preventing principals from making autonomous hiring decisions. Do you favor eliminating employee ratio formulas in union contracts to allow principals to make hiring decisions? Why or why not?
I favor creation of independent complex-level districts and negotiation of contracts at the complex level. Abolish the Teacher Standards Board. Principals should have the power to build their team.
5. Reliable and Transparent Data: The State Auditor found that the DOE is unable to allocate costs properly and the DOE admits their information system needs replaced in order to provide the public, Legislature and department managers with data that will allow them to make timely decisions. What improvements would you make to get the following information to the public: (1) how much money is expended each year within the entire education system, (2) how much of that money is spent in the classroom, (3) how many people work for the DOE and what positions do they hold, and (4) how many of those employees are classroom teachers who report to a principal?
When a Republican became Governor, the Legislature (D) passed Act 51, which removed DOE finances from outside supervision. Repeal Act 51. Abolish the Board of Education. Remove from the Department of Education all authority over school operations. Transfer to County councils the authority to create school districts at the County level or below. Fund school districts on a per-pupil basis from the General Fund, with funds passing through a (very small) State-level Department of Education.
Real classroom teachers can be counted through student schedules. I have done this for one school. The computer which prints report cards could do this for the entire DOE.
6. Fiscal Autonomy : Should the Legislature would be required to provide lump-sum budgets to the DOE/BOE and the Governor could restrict spending, if at all, only on a lump-sum basis, to allow the DOE fiscal autonomy similar to the University of Hawai‘i?
Likewise, should the BOE limit the use of categorical funding and instead provide lump-sum funding to schools or communities that may then choose to purchase centralized DOE or private services?
7. Procurement: In 2009, the State Auditor issued a report on the DOE’s procurement practices involving $840 million in facilities money and revealed potentially fraudulent or unethical behavior and a lack of controls and indifference towards procurement compliance. Do you favor implementing internal controls in this department, with corrective or disciplinary procedures for procurement violations?
Would you begin by investigating why many schools do not have soap, paper towels and adequate toilet paper? Why or why not?
There are bigger issues. We know from the Federal investigation into the Hawaii Department of Transportation Airports Division how insiders rigged the competitive bid process. Ten years ago, the DOE spent over $200,000 per room to build classroom buildings. This looks excessive for a row of 30'x40'x10' concrete boxes eight units long and three tiers high.
8. Decentralization or Community-Centered Schools: Given that communities in all other states have local control over their schools, do you favor a community-centered school system with control over 90 percent of their community k-12 school budget? Would you favor the BOE limiting itself to developing academic standards and holding accountable community-level school governance?
Abundant evidence supports local control of school. A State-level serves no purpose. Students, parents, real classroom teachers, and taxpayers would benefit if the State-level Department of Education had responsibility for funding and financial oversight only.
9. Charter School Cap: Should the cap on the number of charter schools be lifted with student funding that is equal to other public schools, including money for facilities?
Yes. Further, any 501(c)3 organization should have authority to establish a charter school, and the law should provide for representation elections at individual charter schools.
10. Pension Reform: Last year, $417 million of the DOE’s budget was consumed by pension or employee burden costs. Would you implement any pension reforms that would lessen these costs? If so, what would they be?
The answer is on the dollar bill: "This note is legal tender for all debts public and private". Pay teachers in cash and let them allot their pay to food, rent, health care, and retirement plans as they see fit.