Special task force draws blueprint for Hawaii’s public education

No Child Left Behind is behind us.

The new law in town is the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

You won’t notice any changes in this school year, but there are high hopes for the years after.

State superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and her team have been and are working on a strategic plan.

Meanwhile, Gov. David Ige has formed a 19-member task force, or ESSA team, to create what he calls a blueprint for Hawaii’s public schools consistent with ESSA.

If all goes well, elements of both will be combined in one document and delivered on time to the federal government next year.

A free ESSA summit is being held at the Hawaii Convention Center on Saturday, July 9, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Attendance is free, but registration is required.

The governor’s ESSA team leader, Darrel Galera, says it’s a chance for the public to learn about ESSA and give input.

“Tomorrow, the ESSA team moves from 19 members to 1,019 members,” Galera said. “The governor’s blueprint will be built on the people’s voices, which is a very powerful thought.”

Ige says the blueprint will focus on transforming education from one created for an industrialized society to one based on creativity, innovation, and sustainability.

“The objective is to create a blueprint and vision that can move the system forward, so I’m committed to getting better alignment of all the players,” Ige said.

Those “players” include the executive branch, the Board of Education, and the Department of Education. The blueprint has to be consistent with ESSA.

“The ESSA law provides tremendous flexibility for states,” Galera explained. “It’s a huge turnaround to now empower states and districts.”

“I think ESSA allows us the freedom to dream and think about the future we want for Hawaii’s kids,” Matayoshi said, by way of flexibility in funding schools and professional development, extra support for certain students and schools.

Matayoshi and her team are working on a strategic plan due in December. Ige says the ESSA plan is due in May.

Matayoshi hopes it will meet the early deadline of March and says it will include some elements of the strategic plan.

Under law, the plan must be submitted by the DOE, so some are surprised that the governor did not include the superintendent on his ESSA team.

“Do you feel left out?” KHON2 asked.

“I think I’m concerned that people don’t get confused and feel like we’re not working toward the best interest of the students,” Matayoshi said. “It’s just a little bit of an awkward situation, but I think he’s trying his best to do what he thinks is the right thing as well.”

The Board of Education approved the governor’s budget request for $50,000 for Saturday’s summit, $10,000 for ESSA task force meetings, and $15,000 for town hall meetings that begin on the neighbor islands next week.

Monday, July 11 – Hawaii Island
Hilo High School
5-7 p.m.

Tuesday, July 12 – Maui
Baldwin High School
5-7 p.m.

Wednesday, July 13 – Kauai
Kapaa High School
5-7 p.m.

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