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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Our recommendations for Board of Education

While most elective offices this year require candidates to have ideas and policies in a variety of areas, there is one election where public education is the one and only issue: that for the state Board of Education.

It is critical that voters cast their ballots wisely, because the next BOE will be forced to grapple with issues ranging from greater local control of schools through the still uncertain impact of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Our recommendations for the state School Board on Nov. 5 are as follows:

2nd District — Maui

Kelly King, a former member of the board (1994-1998), wants to return for another term. She brings a broad, systemwide approach to issues of governance and education policies. King is a supporter of decentralization, in the sense of allowing local communities to make local educational decisions, but she supports statewide standards.

4th District — Central O'ahu

Grace Dixon is a committed supporter of the public library system and has been a lifelong supporter of public schools. Dixon's focus is on the classroom, where she would work for more teacher training and better classroom materials.

5th District — Leeward O'ahu (two-year term)

Karen James was a special-education teacher for the Department of Education and has valuable firsthand experience in this area as the state deals with the ramifications of the Felix Consent decree. James understands the difficulties faced by individual schools through her years of service on school/community-based management councils.

6th District — Windward O'ahu

Laura H. Thielen, an attorney, believes in granting more authority (and the money to go with it) to local schools while retaining statewide standards. She also recognizes the need to eliminate legislative mandates that interfere with the operations of schools. Thielen would bring a sharp, questioning intelligence to the board.

O'ahu at large, four-year terms (three candidates)

Shannon Ajifu, a board incumbent, is a retired DOE teacher, principal, counselor and education specialist. She brings a common-sense, experienced voice to the board.

Karen Knudsen, a board veteran from 1990, has been a strong and consistent voice in support of public education. She has the experience necessary to work with the Legislature to get more funding for our school system.

Randall Yee, an attorney, would be a new member of the board. He is an active community volunteer and would seek to get greater funding and support for under-performing schools.

O'ahu at-large (two-year seat)

Garret Toguchi, a respected former member of the board, is a strong voice for the mentally disabled. He wants to ensure that the gains made in compliance with the Felix Consent Decree are not lost.