Hawaii: Where so much is wrong, is anyone doing it right?

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It's hard to state this delicately. Apparently, the professional board charged with licensing Hawaii's new and existing teachers ... stinks. A state-appointed auditor found that the board has failed to develop an effective licensing program over the seven years of its operation. It is "in a state of confusion" and ought not to survive, the auditor opined.

The board's chair, Jonathan Gillentine, was quick to deny the auditor's findings and countered that the board had in fact developed "rigorous, quality-driven" standards. Further, he claimed, any blame for Hawaii's inability to meet NCLB's highly qualified teacher requirement lies with the state department of education, not the professional standards board.

Based on our own reading of how teachers get licensed in Hawaii, NCTQ is thinking there's plenty of blame to go around. As one example among many in a long list of teacher quality problems, Hawaii stands out for its blatant disregard of the NCLB requirement that states stop licensing teachers on emergency credentials: teachers are allowed to stay on the rolls for as long as four years without passing the states' licensing exams.

Professional standards boards such as Hawaii's are a favorite of many teacher groups, because they promise to put the profession in charge of itself, much like law or medicine. But unlike comparable boards in law or medicine, too often protecting the clan takes precedence over asserting any actual standards.