Hawaii Board of Education Chairman Don Horner promised a culture change in the Hawaii Department of Education.

In his written testimony before he was confirmed, he wrote his long-term goal as a board member would be “to build an accurate set of metrics in order to hold the DOE responsible for student achievement and fiscal accountability.”

Wednesday the federal Education Department issued a wake-up call, warning that Hawaii’s $75 million in Race to the Top funding is in jeopardy.

The department isn’t meeting its metrics.

The department has a history of not delivering on its promises. One flagrant example: An effort to implement evaluations for principals is stalled seven years after the Legislature directed the department to do so. It blames budget cuts.

It’s time for the people in charge — the governor, the board, the superintendent and her team — to stand up and show students and teachers what it means to be accountable. It’s time for them to show that excuses don’t cut it, that challenging goals can be met.

One way to do that would be to find a way to end the contract fight with the teachers union and negotiate the changes to the labor agreement that are hanging up Race to the Top progress.

Now that would be a culture change.

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