Inquiring Minds

Since they ask (the Star-Advertiser survey):...

Occupation and employer: Math tutor. Self-employed.
Job history past 10 years: Math tutor, self-employed.
Ever run for public office? When? Outcome?:
1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008. 0/6.
Other civic experience or community service: US Navy. Community workday volunteer.
Anything else you'd like voters to know about you?: DOE teacher (high school Math), 1982-1995. Blog: The Harriet Tubman Agenda.

Q: 1) What qualifies you to be a member of the Board of Education?
1. I'm a citizen of Hawaii, over 18 and a non-felon. That is all that the law requires.
2. No one is qualified to take education decisions away from parents. This job should not exist. My qualification is that I understand this.

Q: 2) What do schools need to do to better prepare students for careers and college in the 21st century?
Schools need to operate in a competitive environment in which schools offer a variety of courses and methods of instruction. The one-size-fits-all State-monopoly school system guarantees, for most students, a poor match between the individual student's interests and abilities, on the one hand, and the school's curriculum and method of instruction, on the other.

Q: 3) Do you agree the Department of Education should undergo an independent audit of its financials and operations?
Yes. It does not take 12 years at $12,000 per pupil-year to teach a normal child to read and compute. Outside the US, other countries get better results for less than 1/2 what Hawaii's taxpayers spend, per pupil. In 1996, the Singapore TIMSS 8th grade Math 5th (fifth) percentile score was higher than the US 50th (fiftieth) percentile score.

Q: 4) How would you propose the department go about turning around low-performing schools?
1.Abolish the Teacher Standards Board. Allow principals to determine teacher credential requirements.
2. Offer credit by exam for all courses.
3. Mandate that schools must hire parents, on personal service contracts, to provide for their children's education, if the parents apply for the contract. Make payment contingent on performance on commercially available standardized tests.

Q: 5) Many are calling for more accountability at the school level for student achievement. How would you go about making that accountability a reality?
Internal accountability mechanisms inevitably fail. The most effective accountability system that humans have yet devised is a policy which gives to unhappy customers the power to take their business elsewhere. Subsidize parent control of education. Homeschooling, vouchers, tuition tax credits, charter schools.

Q: 6) What solutions should the board be considering as it attempts to improve student achievement during tough fiscal times?
Credit by exam for all courses required for graduation. Offer the GED at any age and subsidize early college admission or private-sector employment at 1/2 the DOE per pupil budget. Subsidize homeschooling at 1/2 the DOE per pupil budget. Abolish the Teacher Standards Board.

Q: 7) Some have argued that the Department of Education spends too much money at the central level and not enough at the school level. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Yes and no. If the Legislature, the Board, or the HSTA contract mandates a school-level expense, is this money spent "at the school level"? If the Board mandates that a school hire some politician's cousin on a $50,000 do-nothing consulting contract, is this a "school-level" expense? If the Accounting branch puts downtown furniture on Nanakuli's budget, is this a school-level expense?

Q: 8) How many children do you have, and do they attend public or private school?
I have no children. I would homeschool if I did. In Hawaii, juvenile arrests fall when school is not in session. Juvenile hospitalizations for human-induced trauma fall when school is not in session.

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