Hawaii attracts many by her exotic beauty. Often such people are talented enough to compete at all levels of business from the local community to the international sphere. Hawaii also has some of the best private schools creating world class high school graduates. Into this mix add the public schools, rated near the bottom in the United States, usually coming in ahead of only Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, and the District of Columbia.
So, what happens to those with a substandard education in such a competitive environment? For some, the lack of opportunities creates despair which is seen in Hawaii having one of the worst methamphetamine problems in the United States.
At least part of the solution must be to increase opportunities through quality education. Throwing more money at schools is a dubious solution in Hawaii. In the 2002-03 school year, Hawaii ranked seven in the nation with $11,307 per student in revenue and 20th with $8,100 per student in expenditures (US Census Data). The District of Columbia, which spent the most per child but produced the worst results, further suggests that spending more money is not the solution.
Rather than the status quo, we could break the Hawaii Department of Education into various independent school districts, increase charter schools and issue vouchers that would allow parents to choose between public, private or home schooling. This would create an environment where schools must perform in order to attract and retain students. Such a monopoly busting move would be a great business opportunity for entrepreneurs and employment opportunity for quality teachers.
How can this be done? In Hawaii the Democratic Party dominates the legislature with votes controlled by labor unions. Unions like the status quo so the state lawmakers are an unlikely source of reform. The separation of powers limits the governor. Under federal and constitutional law the US Congress could start the above changes, but Neil Abercrombie and Dan Akaka also serve the labor unions. Quality education and business opportunities promote hope and success. Lack of opportunities creates despair leading to lives wasted by drugs and crime. Voters, whether aware of the consequences or not, will choose one or the other on November 7.
Mark Beatty MA, THM, PHD, MBA, JD is the Republican candidate for the US Senate in Hawaii (www.electmarkbeatty.com) For Mark’s other articles see www.bestideashawaii.com.