The Hawaii State Board of Education’s mission is to equip all public school students with the skills and knowledge required to lead them into lives of responsible citizenship.
The board develops statewide educational policy, adopts standards for student achievement, monitors school success, appoints the superintendent of education and oversees the public library system. It also develops curriculum, proposes the education budget and participates in collective bargaining between Hawaii and the teachers union.
Hawaii State Constitution Article 10 outlines the board’s powers. The board’s general business meetings are held twice a month and minutes from past meetings are posted online.
In recent years, the board has been trying to guide Hawaii’s public education system through federal requirements established by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. Since 2007, the school system’s progress has flagged under annual requirements that are becoming increasingly challenging.
The current board of education is appointed by the governor. But it wasn’t always that way.
Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle beginning in 2004 tried unsuccessfully to divide the statewide board into seven local school boards. In 2010, Lingle proposed to reform the educational system by eliminating the board and making the superintendent an appointed cabinet-level position. The Legislature rejected the idea, and then passed its own proposal for an appointed board of education. This appeared on ballots in the form of a constitutional amendment.
Voters on Nov. 2, 2010 passed the amendment by 57.4 percent to replace the elected board of education with one appointed by the governor. They also elected an outgoing Board of Education that held their seats until Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s board appointees were confirmed in April 2011.
The governor appoints nine members on staggered terms to the Board of Education, subject to Senate approval. A 10th non-voting student representative is elected annually by the Hawaii State Student Council.
The Hawaii State Constitution of 1959 established a 14-member board of education to define policy for and oversee Hawaii’s newly founded statewide school district. The board now consists of nine voting members, one non-voting student representative and one non-voting military representative.
Hawaii State Constitution Article 10 outlines the board’s powers. The document originally stipulated that the board’s members would be appointed by the governor. In 1964, an amendment was passed that gave voters the responsibility for electing board of education members (the student member is elected by the Hawaii State Student Council). Hawaii’s first elected board of education took office in December 1966. Twice after that, voters rejected amendments that would have returned the state to an appointed board. When the amendment appeared on ballots for a third time in 2010, voters approved it by 57 percent.