Hawaii educators — key to Gov. Ige’s election — welcome governor’s focus on schools

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by Dmitriy Synkov  

In the native Hawaiian language, the phrase kina`ole means:

Doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, in the right place, for the right reason, with the right feeling, the first time.

“That’s the philosophy Gov. David Ige has taken” toward public schools, says physical education teacher Wil Okabe, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA). “We’re very optimistic. It’s going to be a positive thing for teachers and students.”

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In last year’s election, Ige (pronounced e-gay) replaced former Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who, despite a background in public service, turned his back on educators once elected, says Okabe. Abercrombie alienated educators by trying to tie teacher evaluations closer to student test scores and supporting diverting taxpayer dollars to private schools.

With Ige, says Okabe, things are definitely looking up.

Gov. David Ige with teacher leader Wil Okabe
Gov. David Ige with teacher leader Wil Okabe

 

“I think the governor’s agenda is a very clear one,” says Okabe. “Governor Ige is a public school graduate, his wife is a public school graduate, as well as a teacher and now a vice principal — so he definitely understands what teachers are going through. We anticipate a very positive administration, and I know that many teachers in Hawaii are very excited for the changes that are going to be happening for our students.”

With Hawaii having the country’s shortest interval from election to inauguration, Ige hit the ground running by making education a priority.

“It’s such a whirlwind from election day to this point in time – selecting cabinet members and trying to put together a leadership team that can take us forward, and I’ve really been focused on finding good leaders,” said the governor in his address to 350 educators at the HSTA Delegate Assembly last month.

Ige continued:

It’s not about my ideas. It’s really about making sure that I can deliver the tools and resources that you need so that you continue to give the quality of services that we want for our children.

It’s not about us telling you what you should be doing, it’s really about us empowering you to identify and create, and support those efforts that have the most impact on the students, because that’s where the learning occurs.

At the time of his speech, Ige had just hit his first 120 days in office and was in the middle of appointing state school board members “committed to schools, to children, and to classrooms.”

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