VIDEO: Ray Hart BOE Candidate Profile, Decision 2010 MauiNOW.com
Ray Hart, 2010 candidate for the Board of Education-Maui Residency seat, Transcript:
Introduction: Please introduce yourself, give your name, the race you are running for and briefly name the key issues you plan to address in your campaign.
Answer: Hi, my name is Ray Hart. I’m running for the Board of Education. The major issues that I am looking at as a retired teacher and a parent is that everything that’s going to happen decision-wise in the Board of Education needs to be related to how it
affects the children/students. Every decision needs to have that as its main factor, and there’s a lot of decisions. And the importance of having a teacher and a parent on the Board of Education means that I can provide that perspective to the other members of the board that will allow them to think about the issues from a different point of view.
Lahainaluna Boarding program: There was discussion this year of a possible funding cut to the long-time boarding program at Lahainaluna High School. Are you in support of state funding for the program or against the one-of-a-kind expense?
Answer: I’m definitely in support of it. In fact, I wrote a letter to the editor–which I never do–explaining (that) in a year in which Hawaii was embarrassed by the furlough program, one of the most important things nation-wide is our Lahainaluna Boarding Program. It made Hawaii famous. Why would you cut the one good news. Plus the success of the program. The people that I have talked to who have worked in the program and have gone through the program (speak of) how great it is. And the expense is not that great.
Library Closures: The state Library System faced a $3.6 million deficit in 2010 and threatened the closure of the Hana Library as well as a reduction in personnel. If elected what would you do to assure Maui’s rural communities are protected and continue to benefit from services offered in other parts of the state.
Answer: First thing is, my wife is a library tech–she’s the lady at the counter. I heard about this situation on a regular basis, and the library is an extremely important part of our system where ever you are. And if you are in the rural country, particularly in Hana, which is a combination of a public library and a school library, that’s the last place you should cut. You need the communications available for people so that they can go find out what they want on their own. As a teacher, if I was successful, my students used to go to the library regularly. That was an important thing. That’s how I judged: Do you have a library card? Do you use it? Not the reading test scores, but what did you do about reading. And so, there’s no reason to make the cuts in that program. There’s other places to make cuts that are not going to impact the community and the students the same way. We believe in education (and) that’s a major part of education. They also made decisions cutting library positions out of all of the schools for the staff actually–they had to cut money, so that was one of the places they cut. A librarian is a trained individual that helps the students to know how to research, how to learn, help them read a book. It’s not a volunteer program that somebody stands there and checks out a book. There’s got to be skills and knowledge taking place, so it’s important.
Furloughs: If elected to the post, what would you do to prevent a repeat of the Furlough Friday situation in Hawaii’s classrooms?
Answer: Going back to my original statement, it’s about the children. If they looked at it from the standpoint that it’s about the children, furlough Friday’s could not have happened. The question wouldn’t have even come up because that has the greatest impact on the children. That’s not the place to do your cuts. Cuts are not easy; nobody likes cuts; and every thing that’s going to be cut has a purpose, but the things that immediately affect the children are the last place you would have a cut. Furlough Fridays should not exist. It also works true even now, the furlough Friday is cutting into the program where teachers get to work together and help plan and make a good program for the kids. That’s sad to lose the planning time to the furlough days that the teachers have to have, because they were doing some tremendous work–working together. Everybody always dreamed that teachers would work together instead of getting all those assignments on the same night. If teachers plan together they could have more effective learning.
No Child Left Behind: Even with Furlough Fridays, 13 Maui County public and charter schools met federal benchmarks for “adequate yearly progress” on mathematics and reading scores this year, five more than met the goals last year. Do you think the federal program is working or a waste of time?
Answer: When the federal program first came in, the original design of making education a national priority–to measuring what was happening, having goals, having objectives–that was wonderful; and then when they started to put criteria in that was unrealistic–that every child, no matter what their disability, would magically be at grade level I believe in 2014–that’s not realistic. Some children, they reach their maximum wherever they reach their maximum. It allowed people to stretch first thing, but what it did was it made an emphasis on testing, and life is not about testing. Life is about performance. A person who can write a paper to convince someone to do something, that’s a valuable skill. That’s not a test item. So they got carried away. They thought that it was going to be the cure-all for everything. Now, one of the things is, with the type of testing program that we have nationwide–it’s geared to those kind of things that dwell in practice, and help the students. Not do well on the test. That doesn’t mean that it improves learning. It improves their ability and their test scores. To me the most important thing is the improvement of learning. So I think using part of that, or the idea of standards and measurements–and then combine that with things like portfolios, evaluations of how the student is doing as a person, how they work with others, all of that–put that together and information that can be used. Cause one of the problems with the testing program that we have–we know how every school is doing, but when I ask the question: does that data also tell me how each individual child is doing, no, it’s not set for that. It’s only set for schools. How can you help a student if you’re not sure how the student is doing? And with the model that was being used for so long, you didn’t know until the next school year how that student was doing. It’s too late for the teacher to do anything then.
Closing thoughts: (this is your opportunity to give contact info or upcoming campaign info for Maui constituents).
Answer: One of the problems of being a retired teacher is, I don’t have any money. I’m on retirement and social security, so I don’t have too many campaign things planned. But, I plan on going over to the Big Island at one point for the League of Women Voters, and I’m planning on visiting the charter schools around the state that are under our area, which is Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, the Big Island and Maui, because of my involvement in the creation of the charter schools. All I really want to do is get the message out that I feel there needs to be a teacher on the Board. My background, after 40 years of being involved and working with school boards–I even served as chair of the Board of Education for the College of Education for the University of Washington–trying to help make changes in teacher education. My whole life has been dedicated to it and I want to continue my life being dedicated. I miss being away from the kids. I’ve volunteered since I’ve been out, but I really want to make a difference. I have all of this sitting inside of me that I want to use. I could write a book, but I would rather make changes and help people–provide them information. That’s been my specialty. I want to use it. My email: [email protected]. I have a web page too, but you’re better off with the email.