June 2009

June issue

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Gaming the System 

“There is no culture of excellence at the Department of Education. Any attempt to do things the right way is met with resistance and a circle the wagons against the ‘enemy’ mentality.”    —AN ONLINE READER

For the whole discussion, check out "Gaming the System" featured in our May 2009 annual Public Schools issue. 

What’s on most people’s minds? Burgers! During the month of April, the most popular story viewed online was our cover story, "Fun in a Bun."

Check out John Heckathorn’s "Burger Joints" for reviews on 12 burgers, including those at the The Counter, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers and more.



Do Teachers Make the Grade

In our May issue, senior writer Michael Keany examined the issue of teacher quality within the context of public-education reform.

As the School Quality Survey (SQS) project co-manager, I am offended by your [sidebar] "Gaming the System." Although I am not writing in my capacity as a Department of Education employee, I thought I should still give you some context for the changes that were made to the SQS in 2008.  The SQS was developed and piloted in 2001.  In 2006, the System Evaluation and Reporting Section (SERS) began to have discussions regarding an update of the survey prompted by: 1) revisions to the DOE strategic plan, 2) internal and external requests for item revisions, and 3) an agreement to reduce the number of reverse scored items and simplify data processing.  In 2007, an advisory committee was formed to review the SQS dimensions and items.  The committee included administrators, principals, vice principals, resource teachers, counselors and representatives from the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Student Support, a representative from the Parent Community Networking Center (PCNC), as well as two outside evaluators/researchers.  This committee spent a lot of time reviewing, the survey. Since I helped to facilitate the revision process, I can assure you that no one sat around the table worrying about HONOLULU.

When surveys that are developed to represent various dimensions are reported at the item level, there is a tendency for people to misuse the survey. The use of a single item or single items across dimensions for evaluative purposes is inappropriate. The usefulness of the individual items to school administrators and others outweighed my recommendation to report at only the dimension level.  I must thank you for the renewed energy I now have to once again advocate for the reporting of SQS at only the dimension level.  Perhaps you will have something really exciting to talk about in 2010.



Undocumented: The State of Illegal Immigration in Hawaii

Our April feature story discussed the issue of illegal aliens in the Islands.

The unions in Hawaii cannot wait until someone becomes “legal” to begin organizing them and including them as full members. Instead, in the best interests of their membership—and all workers in Hawaii—we must include workers made illegal by the U.S. government in our unions now. Some unions on the Mainland are doing exactly this to every worker’s benefit.

What undercuts the wages and benefits of legal workers in Hawaii is the vulnerability that illegal migrants face in relation to their employers. Any employer of illegal workers knows full well that the threat of reporting them makes the workers succumb to any outrageous employer demand. If it were not for their status, these workers would be in a better position to demand better wages and working conditions.

Instead of pretending that people will somehow just stop trying to cross borders however they can, all of us need to take responsibility and do the ethical thing: Include them as full members of our society, now. Demand that the U.S. government stop the raids and deportations of illegals.