- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Gov. David Ige has passed over state schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi for an appointment to a newly formed task force charged with overhauling Hawaii’s school standards and testing.

Supporters and critics of the state Department of Education have questioned the move, saying her involvement would be beneficial for schools, Hawaii News Now reported (http://bit.ly/1WrKpYT).

Ige announced the creation of the task force on April 14. The group comprised of educators, lawmakers and other stakeholders will develop a plan for new national requirements aimed at changing how Hawaii schools measure success and bringing the state in line with the Every Student Succeeds Act, which is replacing the controversial No Child Left Behind Act.

“It’s a big change and it’s a lot more responsibility for the states, including Hawaii, and that’s why I think this ESSA task force is so hugely important,” said state Rep. Takashi Ohno, who is vice chairman of the House Education Committee and was appointed to the governor’s task force.

DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said Matayoshi met with Ige a week before the task force was announced, but did not learn about the application process until the names of the people appointed were included in an April 28 news release.

“There was no discussion with the superintendent regarding her involvement,” Dela Cruz said.

Matayoshi, who has headed the statewide school district for six years, has been praised for her role in improving student achievement, strengthening standards and making departmental processes more effective. During her tenure, Hawaii garnered national attention for securing a $75 million Race to the Top grant from the federal government.

But the state’s handling of hot classrooms last summer and a new performance system for teachers put Matayoshi in the hot seat.

State Rep. Bob McDermott, whose district includes Ewa and Ewa Beach, has publicly questioned Matayoshi’s leadership and said he supports the decision not to have her on the governor’s task force.

“We need educators on there. We have great teachers, great principals. We don’t need another attorney, which is what she is by trade,” McDermott said.

While the task force develops their plan for implementing ESSA in Hawaii schools, the DOE and Board of Education will come up with their own version.

“I still believe that the Department of Education and Kathy Matayoshi’s work will be very front and center as we discuss what our schools will look like,” Ohno said.

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Information from: KGMB-TV, http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/

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