Fall 1990 Home   Newsletters

Winter 1991

Spring 1991

President's Message (Sandra Duckworth)
Board Highlights
Hospitality Needed
Call to Convention
Non-Partisan Facts Explored
League Leaders Listed
Juvenile Justice Position Reviewed (Catherine Tignac)
Reapportionment: The Drama Begins (Anna Lee)
League Unveils Juvenile Justice Position
Action Ahead on Public Education (Marion Saunders)
Legislative Access Reported (Debbie Kimball)
Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) (Debbie Kimball)
League Appreciates these Companies

Action Ahead on Public Education

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii Education Committee has issued the following report and comparisons:

School reform is difficult, everyone agrees, and the will to change may falter in fulfillment. This has prompted the Hawaii Business Roundtable to support a further study by Paul Berman Associates to see whether real reform is taking place in Hawaii since the Berman proposal called THE HAWAII PLAN.

The new report THE NEXT STEPS; HARD DECISIONS focuses on what progress, if any, has been made toward school reform. A copy of the new report is in the League office for interested Leaguers.

Some guidelines for assessing the report may be helpful, especially in relation to the reform strategy the League supports: schools of choice, or schools-within-schools.

The Berman report insists that all reform and innovation be conducted under the auspices of the SCBM (School/ Community Based Management) strategy that the Department of Education has adopted. SCBM was originally proposed as a voluntary option for schools, but it has become a pressured prerequisite for innovation. Thus, in the Berman report, reform is restricted to SCBM schools.

What does this do to reform?

  1. SCBM focuses on adult groups related to the school; Choice focuses on students/teachers and classroom learning.

  2. SCBM requires consensus among six groups of adults; Choice decisions are made by 3 to 6 teachers who can act.

  3. SCBM agreements are likely to be compromises, thus not the dear, focused decisions good education requires; Choice yields clear un-compromised answers to questions.

  4. SCBM focuses on governance and is slow to affect instruction; Choice focuses on instruction immediately.

  5. SCBM moves interest group action from the district to the school level.

  6. SCBM puts non-professionals in the role of making professional decisions, empowers parents in the wrong role; Choice uses the professionals to make the decisions they have been trained to make, gives parents options to choose from professionally designed programs.

  7. SCBM is a shift in management strategy, not a shift in the locus of authority that is needed; Choice is more likely to change authority patterns as individual programs are locally designed and implemented.

  8. SCBM leaves schools accountable to central administration; Choice makes them accountable to parents and elected officials.

  9. Berman recommends an open enrollment policy and implies this would satisfy local interest in choice. Open enrollment is not the kind of choice that can serve as catalyst for school revitalization - it may be worse than no choice.

  10. There are many ways to end-run SCBM and make it into pseudo-SCBM (eg. not delegate authority, not have a parent group, etc).

The League believes schools should have the flexibility to choose their own reform strategy - be it SCBM or Schools-within-schools or another option that fits their student population. To mandate all schools to be SCBM is exchanging one top-down system for another - something Hawaii has done disastrously in the past

Marion Saunders
Chair, LWVHI Education Committee

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