Thursday, March 06, 2003


State Sen. Chip Maxwell of Omaha made a splash earlier this year with a proposal to shift all responsibility for funding our public schools away from local property taxes, which now bear about half the cost, and onto state sales and income taxes added to the relatively small amount (6 to 8 percent) from federal tax funding.

Comes now a report about the one state in the union that has state control of public schools, Hawaii. It kind of puts the idea of copying them on a surfboard and points it . . . well, away.

State control of the schools has made Hawaii the state with the highest percentage of private-school enrollment in the country, according to an Oct. 12, 2001, New York Times article, "In Hawaii, Public Schools Feel a Long Way From Paradise."

Although Hawaii has a long tradition of private, missionary schools, the growth in them is more recent, with one in five Hawaiian children enrolled in a private school.

Most state legislators send their own children to private schools, according to the article. It quoted observers as saying the buildings are run down, there have been protracted teachers' strikes, there's a serious teacher shortage, there's a threat of a federal takeover, and there have been cutbacks in school construction plans.

Moreover, 48 percent of Hawaiian publicly-educated eighth-graders scored below the "basic" standard on a math exam given nationwide, and 45 percent of the fourth-graders scored that low, as well. The national average was 33 percent "below basic" in the year studied.

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