Update 11/21/16: BOE Watch began asking the Hawaiʻi Board of Education to provide video recordings of its meetings in early 2015. No response came back for over 18 months. In August 2015 we started providing this public video service using volunteers, and continued until November 2016. In August of 2016, Governor Ige finally answered our plea to support BOE action to provide videos. On October 10, the BOE refused our proposal which is, essentially, to continue to provide the service for free in collaboration with the Board. Why? The BOE says it doesn’t have the resources to work with volunteers! That is absurd. How can you not have the resources to work with volunteers, especially when they’ve already proven they can do it?
So, now our attention must turn to the legislature for redress. Check back here and read the BOE Watch Facebook group blog to keep abreast of latest developments and join the group to post your comments and add your ideas to finding a solution.
11/7/16 – Hawaii News Now Covers Story of BOE’s Refusal to Provide Meeting Videos
10/10/16 – Barriers to Open, Accountable Government in Hawaiʻi Hold Fast
Since February 2015, a group of citizens gathered under the banner of BOE Watch have advocated for video recordings of Hawaiʻi Board of Education meetings to be posted online within a few days of each meeting. During the last year and half, BOE Watch has petitioned the BOE and Governor Ige, who is ultimately responsible for this Governor-appointed Board, to support this improvement in our public education system. The most recent proposal suggested a partnership with community-engaged volunteers to provide this service for the public virtually free. BOE Watch has been providing videos for free for the last year (see BOE videos), and sought to develop a partnership with the BOE as described in the DOE Strategic Plan. The Board of Education has refused to do provide this service claiming it doesn’t have the resources to manage volunteers nor the funds to provide video recordings themselves.
Date: Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 9:03 AM
Subject: Re: Please take action on BOE Watch request
To: Vanessa Ott <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Lance Mizumoto <email@example.com>, Brian De Lima <Brian_De_Lima@notes.k12.hi.us>, BOE <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Your request has received serious consideration, but the Board will not be implementing a meeting video project or volunteer proposal. It does not have to time or resources to implement this project or manage the proposed volunteer effort.
This unsigned correspondence undoubtedly comes from Ige-appointed BOE Chair, Lance Mizumoto, but it could be from the BOE Executive Director, Alison Kunishige, or both. Note It is very rare for in individual to sign an email from the Board of Education and take responsibility for a correspondence.
Click here to read the 9/20/16 proposal that the BOE rejected. It includes Governor Ige’s 8/8/16 letter asking the Board of Education to give the idea serious consideration (see p. 3 of the PDF file).
Openness, Transparency, Accountability, Communication, Community Engagement…
What do these words mean, and what do they look like in practice? The way the State of Hawaiʻi State Board of Education operates, the one and only school board in the whole state which makes policy for all public schools, it is not meeting basic 21st-century communications practices to facilitate these desirable characteristics of a well-functioning public education system: Openness, Transparency, Accountability, Communication, and Community Engagement. The 9/20/16 proposal to the Board states:
Of all the public school Governing Boards throughout the nation, Hawaiʻi is unique in that there is only one School Board in the entire state. Hawaiʻi also is unique because it is the only state comprised of disconnected islands. For those who live on islands other than Oʻahu, it is physically impossible to attend a Board of Education meeting by driving. Very few, if any other school districts across the U.S. have a physical barrier preventing large numbers of education stakeholders from driving, biking, or taking public transportation to a school board meeting.
A cursory examination of school board meeting times across the U.S. shows a significant majority of meetings in the evening, I assume to accommodate stakeholder engagement. Hawaiʻi’s School Board meets during the work day on the first and third Tuesday each month. It is logistically and financially impossible for many, many education stakeholders to take time away from work to attend BOE meetings.
As we see, there are significant physical and organizational barriers to community engagement with the one and only governing board for all Hawaiʻi public schools, the State Board of Education. For these reasons, compared to all other public school systems in the nation, Hawaiʻi has the greatest need for online videos of its BOE meetings readily available to the public. It’s relatively easy to do, the costs are negligent if you use volunteers, and the benefits for stakeholder engagement are immeasurable. The first step in being engaged is knowing what’s going on.
Do You Want Change?
One place for you start to be involved in changing the status quo is to join the BOE Watch group on Facebook, and contribute your ideas (not your money). BOE Watch is a think tank and network for folks who think online videos of BOE meetings are an important public service that the Board should support. The BOE Watch group/blog is a place for people who want this to happen to gather online.
What do you think we should do next? Contact our legislators? Give up? Your input is valuable for that’s what community engagement looks like. Click the link to read more about the BOE Watch Facebook group, join the discussion, and help be a part of making this happen for a better education system in the future.
For more information contact: Vanessa Ott; 808-854-1018; email@example.com