- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

HONOLULU (AP) - The two women vying to become Hawaii public schools’ next superintendent have made their first public remarks, and both talked about the importance of all children having access to education.

The candidates are 48-year-old Christina Kishimoto and 46-year-old Linda Chen. Kishimoto and Chen have been selected from an initial candidate pool of 92 applicants. They spoke Thursday morning.

Kishimoto is currently superintendent and chief executive officer of Gilbert Public Schools in Arizona. She previously served as superintendent and assistant superintendent of Hartford Public Schools.

“This is a unique place in this country in terms of every child having access to free, public education,” Kishimoto said. “And a commitment is not only access, it’s about access to quality.”

Chen is a former chief academic officer for Baltimore City Public Schools and currently is the managing director of an educational consulting firm.

“Every student deserves access to strong teaching and learning experiences that prepares them for college, career, community and life,” Chen said. “I bring a love of listening and learning, a determination and commitment to equity and access for all of our students.”

Kishimoto said she would look to define the school system’s core priority and make sure teachers have the support and tools they need to do their job.

Chen said she would take a hard look at school staffing.

Both candidates will be interviewed by the Board of Education at a May 11 meeting. The board hopes to reach a decision and make a job offer at that meeting, Chairman Lance Mizumoto said.

Public testimony will be heard at the meeting.

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