[ education Category ]
November 08, 2002

We've Got No Class (and We've Got no Principles)

That does it. I'm tired of not knowing. I'm tired of stepping into the voting booth armed only with the endorsements of people who don't truly know. I'm tired of pretending I'm a responsible voter, when really I'm an ignorant pretender.

I'm declaring myself a Hawaii State Board of Education watchdog.

That's right. When telephone pollsters call me up and ask me what I consider the single most important issue, I can't keep saying "education" when I know more about Jennifer Waihee's nude scene in a Kennedy Theater play (anyone else remember?) than I do about the B.O.E. candidates I voted for (the names of whom I can remember only two!).

I keep saying, "I wish someone would keep an eye on the B.O.E. year-round, and tell me what the key issues are, and let people know how incumbents vote, and whether or not they truly represent me in the decision-making process." I keep saying, "Someone should help me understand how the B.O.E. works, and what exactly I'm empowering people to do when I vote them into office."

Well, nobody's doing it, as far as I can tell--at least, not to the extent that I consider necessary. So it's going to have to be me.

I don't know exactly how I'm going to do it, aside from clipping every B.O.E.-mentioning article from the local papers and reading every word on their website, and publishing as objective a synopsis as I can on a website of my own. But it's a first step, and I'm going to take it.

I figure I'll interview each member of the board, with special attention to those who will be up for reelection in two years, on a few occasions, in order to get as clear a picture as I can manage of where these people's philosophies are and what the dang issues are.

So, what I want to know is, do you know what you're voting for when you vote for your B.O.E. members? Are you more interested in this board being run by educators or, well, whoever else there is (politicians? businesspeople? moms?)? Do you think I'll be doing this mainly to ease my own guilty conscience, or do you think people will actually want the information I hope to present?

Ah, what does it matter? I'll do it for me, and hope others care, I guess.

Posted by scrivener at November 08, 2002 03:42 PM


Posted by Linkmeister on November 8, 2002 6:47 PM:

I'd use it. I have no knowledge of Shirley Robinson, and in fact voted for Grace Dixon in that district. Reasoning was that Dixon was a library advocate, while Robinson said nothing about it. That's despite the fact that Robinson lives directly across the street from me. Fact is, I've exchanged more words with her husband than with her.

Karen Knudsen I voted for because I've been voting for her for years. How did I pick the others? Three paragraphs of answers in the paper to questions the paper formulated. Lousy way to run a railroad, and I always feel guilty about it.

Posted by Ryan on November 8, 2002 8:33 PM:

I think that's an excellent idea, and I'm entirely serious.

The BOE elections are among the most frequently ridiculed. While this year I did read profiles and the like and went into the polls with a list (there was a religious activist in the mix this year, and I wanted to be extra sure she didn't get my vote), most of the time I just vote randomly for women first, minorities second, and then on simple name recognition. Most folks just vote based on the latter criteria, which explains Lex Brodie's term.

More importantly, IMHO, is that the BOE actually has substantial responsibilities and power, and yet I can't even conjure in my mind what a BOE meeting looks like. They're not conducted in secret, but they're definitely not monitored closely. Just last month I helped a grassroots effort by band teachers who were protesting a recent curriculum change the BOE made which was proposed, discussed, and passed before anyone had even heard of it. (It added another required math/science credit, which — in schools with six-period days — all but eliminated electives like orchestra, art, and drama.) Yet, I wasn't surprised. It's frightening, but I bet that if someone proposed eliminating evolution and adding creationism here in Hawaii, it would become policy before some random person noticed it in the minutes, tucked away somewhere.

I would want the information. I'd love to help publish/disseminate the information. I say join `olelo and get a videocamera, too, and become the Lilian Hong of Education!

Posted by Lisa on November 8, 2002 8:44 PM:

That is a wonderful idea. I voted for BOE based on very limited information, and generally went with the Advertiser's recommendations when in doubt.

If you need volunteers, I'll be glad to help out.

Posted by mel on November 9, 2002 4:24 AM:

Like most voters, I too did not have enough information about BOE candidates except from what I got in the voters guides, and luckily remembering what I had seen on one of the two debates that aired on Bob Rees' program on Olelo during the season. That one helped me make a choice of NOT voting for Shannon Wood and finding out a little more about Shirley Robinson, who I ended up voting for.

One other candidate that I did not vote for was former State Rep. Terrance Tom who back in 1997 or so ran afoul of some ethics laws in regards to being on the Bishop Estate's payroll.... I vaguely recall too that his office computers at the State Capitol were confiscated, for what I can't remember... I'm sure it's posted somewhere on the Star Bulletin site....

In the At-Large race, I did vote for the "religious activist" Marla Wade and no one else to help her get in... of course, unlike Carol Gabbard who I voted for in 2000, she did not get in. I think we do need some conservative people on the board to put things in balance, otherwise our kids will only be raised on a liberal agenda.

Overall I like the idea of someone here keeping a watch on the BOE, and look forward to seeing your observations posted to the board. If anything, the BOE and DOE may be due for some changes in the coming months if Governor Linda Lingle can get her proposal of decentralizing the school system past the legislature.

Posted by mitchell on November 9, 2002 9:12 AM:

Thanks for the encouragement. Seriously. My plan right now is quite disorganized. As soon as the blasted--I mean wonderful--HIFF is finished, I'm hoping to sit down and do some serious brainstorming, followed by some organizing.

My plan, for now, is not to come up with too much of a structured plan. I'm just too, too, too ignorant about the Board to know how I want to lay this out. Instead, for now, I'm going to read as much as I possibly can about the current board, and make notes to myself as I get educated. Hope I don't get bored of education before I can make some progress.

And for everyone who offered to help in some small way: I'm writing down your names and emails!

Horde of Education.
Snored of Education.
Implored of Education.
Cored by Education.
Adored by Education.
Explored of Education.
Floored by Education.
Gored by Education.
Chored of Education.
Lord of Education (aha!).
Enamored of Education.
Moored to Education.
Pored through Education.
Roared of Education.
Sored by Education.
Soared through Education.
Stored of Education.
Shored by Education.
Scored by Education.
Sword of Education (hmmm).
Toward Education.
Restored by Education.
Warlord of Education.
Ward of Education.
Reward of Education.

B.O.E. for Lolos.
The Complete Lolo's Guide to the B.O.E.
Edumacation for Lolos.

Posted by Linkmeister on November 9, 2002 10:26 AM:

How'd you miss this one?

Education for Dummies!

Posted by mel on November 10, 2002 5:35 AM:

I like "The Complete Lolo's Guide to the B.O.E." with "Education for Dummies" at #2.

Posted by Ryan on April 10, 2003 10:50 PM:

I'm declaring myself a Hawaii State Board of Education watchdog.

Updates! Updates! I still don't feel like I know what these people are up to...

Posted by Tony Young on February 8, 2004 10:43 AM:

Hi folks,

I realize this is a late post but my name is Tony Young and I starred in "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" opposite Jennifer Waihee at Kennedy Theater.

She was NOT nude, nor was I. People probably thought that because there was a quick change done onstage in the dark.

It's amazing what people think they remember.


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