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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 23, 2010

Abercrombie sets schools plan

Advertiser Staff and News Services

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Neil Abercrombie yesterday outlined a plan he said would decentralize authority in the state's education system and lead to educational improvements.

The proposal represents the first major policy pronouncement by the longtime politician, who in February gave up a safe congressional seat to run for governor.

Abercrombie's proposal focuses on decentralizing authority from state Department of Education headquarters to individual schools. Principals would control their own budgets, educational programs and staffing, and would be offered training at "leadership academies."

"Instead of it being top-down, it's going to be bottom-up," Abercrombie said.

Teachers would be provided more opportunities for advancement while remaining in the classroom. But they also would face "more meaningful performance measures" that Abercrombie did not detail.

The plan contemplates more cooperation with public charter schools, aggressive efforts to capture federal money and creation of partnerships with private businesses and foundations.

The other major hopefuls, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, said their immediate priority is to end school furloughs. Abercrombie has also called for an end to furloughs.