At Civil Beat, our goal has been to focus on the big education issues and establish ourselves as experts — by digging beneath the surface and finding answers to the hard questions. We’ve done that by developing reliable sources, requesting and analyzing hundreds of documents, building our own databases and even showing up when least expected.

Here is a sampling of the stories that you wouldn’t have read anywhere else that helped establish Civil Beat’s leadership in covering education issues:

  • Taken For a Ride: Hawaii’s Runaway School Bus Costs, beginning Oct. 31, 2010: In a budget crunch, Civil Beat found Hawaii may be spending more for student transportation than it has to. Lack of competition and skyrocketing school bus costs need an explanation, and lawmakers — and the FBI — are out to find one.

  • Judge: HSTA Attorney ‘Promoted Confusion’, October 7, 2011: The state and its teachers union failed to come to a contract agreement this year, costing the state its good standing in the federal Race to the Top, and costing both HSTA members and taxpayers a good chunk of change in legal fees. Read about the reputation and deliberately confusing legal tactics employed by the attorney spearheading the union’s case.

  • The Truth About Hawaii’s Teacher Planning Days, July 28, 2011: Many don’t know the hidden time that teachers put into their work. Civil Beat showed up at school days before the doors opened for students to see what the teachers were up to, and we found hives of activity.

  • Getting to the Bottom of Hawaii’s Education Budget, June 7, 2011: The Department of Education said it received a budget cut this year, when in fact, spending on education went up. We showed you how the state’s education budget works, and explained what legislators said was too complicated.

  • University of Hawaii Research: Delivering on Its Promise?, June 7, 2011: University of Hawaii officials and the governor himself made much ado this year about UH having the potential to drive the state’s economy as a world-class research institution. We compared it with other world-class institutions to see how it actually stacks up, and found it has a long way to go.

  • Getting Personal with Board of Ed Appointees, April 12, 2011: A constitutional amendment meant big changes for the state’s Board of Education this year — from one elected by voters to one appointed by the governor. We took the lead on figuring out how this board would be different.

  • Abercrombie Takes Cues on Schools from Aiona, March 30, 2011: As a gubernatorial candidate, Abercrombie scoffed at his Republican opponent’s proposal for an audit of the Department of Education, saying it was unnecessary and he was ready to govern from Day One. But later, Abercrombie and his newly appointed Board of Education came out with a plan for an entire audit committee to investigate policies within the Department of Education.

  • Hawaii Children More Needy, But Fewer Social Workers at School to Help, March 29, 2011: The sluggish economy has meant not only more families with greater need, but it has also meant budget cuts resulting in fewer services for the families who need them more than ever.

  • CDC Survey: Hawaii Teens Have Less Sex, More Babies Than Peers, March 9, 2011: Hawaii’s Department of Education has a sex education policy for teenagers, but it’s weak and unenforced — a recurring theme in our education coverage. This article shares the impact that can have on real lives and even the state’s longterm economy.

  • Ex-Director: Charter Schools Need Reform, Feb. 8, 2011: In a year of headline-grabbing charter school problems, this article tells the story of how lack of accountability started at the top, with unclear roles and responsibilities among the people charged with standing guard over the charter school system.

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