It’s been two weeks since a governor-created task force unveiled an updated draft of its values and visions for Hawaii public education, from kindergarten to college.

In an update to the Board of Education on Tuesday, Stephen Terstegge of the task force said it has been collecting public input online, with a majority of commenters indicating that they support the draft that was provided. The task force plans to present a final document in January.

“We’re at a point where internally we’re working to make it as cohesive and refined as possible but we still want to be open to external voices, in case there’s any strong themes that emerge that we’ve missed in our in-person canvassing,” Terstegge told the board.

McKinley High School journalism teacher Cindy Reves prepares for her class.
Hawaii’s Blueprint for Public Education focuses on school-level empowerment. Here, McKinley High School journalism teacher Cindy Reves prepares for a class. PF Bently/Civil Beat

The document, called Hawaii’s Blueprint for Public Education, focused on school-level empowerment.

Work on the blueprint comes soon after the board approved its own updated strategic plan that sets expectations for public schools to do a better job empowering students, prioritizing professional development and fostering innovation. The board approved the plan Dec. 6. 

Information from the two documents will be incorporated into the state’s implementation plan for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which gives more authority to states to decide how they want to test students, evaluate teachers and define success. The state ESSA plan needs to be submitted to the federal Department of Education in the spring to ensure receiving federal funding.

Most of the input on the draft blueprint came from teachers, parents and administrators, with a majority of them located on Oahu, Terstegge told the board.

The governor’s task force will continue to collect input and review the alignment between the blueprint, the strategic plan, the state ESSA plan and the new direction of the U.S. Department of Education, Terstegge said.

The idea is to have a final draft completed next month, with focus group meetings held later this month and in January. Community meetings will also be held from January to March to share the final blueprint and how it aligns with the strategic and state ESSA plans.

According to Darrel Galera, chairman of the task force and a member of the Board of Education, having further discussions is “essential for the community to have a greater sense of clarity on where all this are moving.”

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