Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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August 05, 2009 - MidWeek
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DOE needs Hamamoto

Dennis Morioka (Letters, July 22) agreed with Bob Jones’ recent article that “time’s up” regarding schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto.

As a Complex Area Superintendent (CAS), former principal, teacher and current parent of public school students, I must challenge the inaccurate statements and personal opinions expressed by Morioka and Jones.

Morioka states, “There have been small improvements in reading skills and scores.” Of course, we still have a long way to go to become the kind of 21st century educational system that we need to be, but gains of more than 20 percent are by no means “small.” On the contrary, they are tremendous. Since 2003, proficiency scores on the Hawaii State Assessment in reading have increased from 41 percent to 65 percent and scores in mathematics from 20 percent to 44 percent.

Morioka further asserts that of the nine CAS on Oahu, “five are in control of two schools each, while the other four have three schools.” This is totally untrue. A complex is a K-12 cluster composed of a high school and its middle and elementary feeder schools. As the CAS for three separate complexes (Farrington, Kaiser and Kalani), I am accountable for a total of 27 schools; three high schools, four middle schools, 18 elementary schools, the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind and the Farrington Community School for Adults.

Jones (Just Thoughts, July 8) is dismissive of the leadership provided by the CAS appointed by Superintendent Hamamoto. A careful analysis of the schools in each of the 15 complex areas would provide him with data that might lead to the opposite conclusion. As an example, the 26 schools in the Farrington/Kaiser/Kalani complexes include 15 (58 percent) making Adequate Yearly Progress and five of the 11 (48 percent) schools that missed the mark making significant gains in both reading and math. Of the remaining six schools, five made gains in either reading or math. The single school not posting gains has already attained top standards and has been recognized as a national Blue Ribbon School. In addition, innovation and outstanding progress is evidenced by:

• International Baccalaureate School Candidacy at Niu Valley Middle, Kaiser High School and Hahaione Elementary;

• Laptop computers for every ninth- and 10th-grader at Kalani High School;

• A National Blue Ribbon nomination for Kapalama Elementary;

• An early childhood learning center for 4-year-olds at Linapuni Elementary; and

• A national championship in the Lexus Environmental Challenge in both 2008 and 2009 at Farrington High School.

These accomplishments, and hundreds more across the state, occur because of the direction and support of Superintendent Hamamoto. She expects her leaders at the complex areas and in the schools to be relentless in their efforts to implement programs that will help all students reach their full potential. Morioka and Jones’ unsubstantiated comments are disrespectful of and hurtful to the hardworking students, parents, staff, teachers, administrators and complex area staff of our Hawaii public schools.

Superintendent Hamamoto is the driving force for change in Hawaii’s public school system. Under her stewardship, test scores are increasing, principals are evolving into 21st century chief executive officers accountable for both student achievement and fiscal resourcefulness, and the 15 complex areas from Kapa‘a to Ka‘u are working with their school communities to leverage the resources, support and partnerships necessary to ensure student success.

As we move forward, Hamamoto’s continued leadership (not term limits) is the key to sustainable improvements in Hawaii’s public schools.

Ronn Nozoe

Complex Area Superintendent


Hawaii State Department of Education


Send your letters to MidWeek Letters, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 500, Honolulu, HI. 96813; by fax to 585-6324, or by email to dchapman@midweek.com. Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. We print only the letters that include this information, but only your name and area of residence will appear in print. Letters may be edited for clarity and space.
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