Rating Hawaii From The Mainland

Larry Price
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Wednesday - July 04, 2007
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It was a little disturbing a couple of weeks ago to hear that someone calling himself Dr. Beach came out with the top five beaches in the world and Hawaii did not make the list.

It makes you wonder who Dr. Beach is and if we should really care about what he has to say about our beaches.

The same thing happened last week when yet another study was released from somewhere on the Mainland that said, “State’s teacher policies ranked last in nation.” I was immediately interested in finding out who conducted the study.

As it turns out, the assessment was by a group on the East Coast

that calls itself the National Council on Teacher Quality. One of the authors of the study, Dr. Richard Ingersoll, a professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, speaking for the council, said, “Evaluations are important. These are employees that are working with our children.”

That is fine and dandy, but seriously, we all know that, Dr. Ingersoll. How did we get ranked “last in class”? It turns out the study is meant to highlight the state-to-state differences in how teachers are evaluated, prepared, licensed and compensated - all factors affecting teaching quality.

According to Hawaii’s policies, new teachers are evaluated every semester for their first two years and are supposed to undergo annual evaluations. Satisfactory, tenured teachers go through formal reviews every five years.

Joan Husted, executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, while agreeing the the National Council on Teacher Quality suggestion, pointed out that many principals don’t have time to review every teacher annually. In Hawaii, only principals and vice principals are allowed by law to give formal evaluations. There are just not enough principals and vice principals to evaluate all the teachers, counselors, custodial staff and teaching aides on a regular basis.

And while there is some use for the findings in the report, it does not fall in the category of constructive criticism because it doesn’t have all the facts of the matter. It may be that a few legislators would be interested in using the findings to request additional funds for hiring more vice principals; however, the bigger impact of the report is that lacking its credibility, it hurts the professional esteem of the individuals involved, and does nothing to make the parents and students proud of their school and teaching corps.

Simply put, it serves no real purpose.

Finally, isn’t it time we start challenging some of these reports that always seems to rank Hawaii at the bottom of the list nationally for no good reason?

Yes, headlines like that may arouse the curiosity of readers and might even sell a couple of papers, but they don’t improve the public schools or furnish the general public with legitimate information.

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