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Randy Perreira Op-Ed Commentary: HGEA supports giving school leaders resources they need

June 06, 2014

On Wednesday, May 28, 2014, HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira sent an Op-Ed commentary to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The Op-Ed piece ran in the June 5 edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The original text of the letter appears below.

Op-Ed Commentary
By Randy Perreira, Executive Director, HGEA/AFSCME Local 152

In recent months we have seen stories that have touted the success of the changes being made to our school system reflected in the positive reaction of the U.S. Department of Education, as well as improved learning outcomes for our students as measured by the State DOE testing. Against this backdrop of success, however, a recent survey conducted by several retired principals and others highlights a very different picture – one where the employees of the DOE, particularly school principals and vice principals, are under siege as they attempt to improve our schools.

Results of the recent principals’ survey indicated the level of frustration and anxiety felt by our educational leaders, many of whom have brought these concerns to our attention. In fact, the results of this survey confirm and validate information gathered by HGEA leaders some months before, showing morale among school administrators to be abysmally low, with an increasing likelihood of burnout for all concerned. The State’s commitments to the U.S. DOE in its Race to the Top application and subsequent Elementary and Secondary Education Act Flexibility Waiver, while made with good intentions, have resulted in a flood of initiatives and expectations of monumental proportions for school leaders and teachers. These commitments include the implementation of both the CESSA (Comprehensive Evaluation System for School Administrators) for principals and the EES (Educator Effectiveness System), the state DOE’s performance-based evaluation system for teachers – both subjects of the most recent survey.

When the working group of HGEA principals took the lead to create the CESSA, they did not intend for it to be merely a performance evaluation form for school leaders. While all parties involved understood that to transition from an evaluation form to a complex evaluation system would be a tremendous challenge, all agreed that the result would be worth the effort. This process of collaboration continues to this day. At the same time, principals are struggling with the additional workload put upon them by the EES, as they face the dilemma of having to meet mandates for this teacher evaluation system while balancing that against the needs of our children, schools and communities.

Both the principals’ survey results and information received by HGEA are red flags to the DOE and Board of Education that we need to move together quickly with focus, or risk failing our education system and our children. We must heed this warning. Despite the reported success of the change efforts being implemented by the DOE and the BOE, these successes are not sustainable given the human toll it is taking on those charged with leading our schools. HGEA continues to stand with our educational officers as they take on the daunting challenge of improving our schools – and we will fight to ensure that they are given the necessary tools and resources to do so, without the micromanagement of the Board of Education and others. It is time for all to recognize that the improvement of our schools is best left to those trained and experienced to achieve that goal – our principals, vice principals and teachers. Our children are counting on us.

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