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Public-Private Partnership

Roger Drue, chairman, Hawaii Business Roundtable

More than a decade ago, the Hawaii Business Roundtable sponsored “The Next Steps: Hard Decisions, Working Together for Educational Excellence,” or what became known as the Berman Report. The roundtable is a local nonprofit organization, whose members include top business leaders. The group’s stated objectives are to generate and promote solutions to major community problems. Education has been a doozy.

Current Chair and Former Education Committee Chair Roger Drue is also president and chief executive officer of Hawaii Pacific Health. He bases the Roundtable’s current recommendations for improving education on the organization’s more than a decade of experience. Drue says Hawaii must get serious about:
• Making high-quality, early-learning opportunities available to children before kindergarten.
• Designing a standards-based curriculum and accountability measures that place students and their achievement at the center of consideration.
• Stepping up efforts to ensure that Hawaii has a sufficient corps of teachers and principals who are of the highest quality.
• Repairing and remodeling our public school facilities.
• Designing and implementing a seamless P-16 education system (pre-kindergarten through college) to smooth the transition of students from one level to the next.

“I think the events of 9/11 absolutely bring it home that we’re dependent on business in this state. You know when business is done, we’re really just severely wounded, and one of the ways we’re going to avoid these speeding bullets is to have a really fine educational system here in Hawaii and honestly and thoughtfully come to grips, not putting any blame on the past for things we haven’t done as well as we should have,” Drue says.

With regard to that all-important accountability, Drue maintains that educators need to be held accountable, and they need to design the process. “I think it’s time for action. It’s time for the show to begin and that’s what we want.

We want teachers to be accountable, we want to see the results in writing. We want to see test scores.”

“I think the educators have to be able to be tested and have to be able to stand up to the results they have, knowing that there is going to be some difference between Kahala and Waianae, I mean there just IS. We’re grownups, we understand that there are going to be some differences, because the people are different, the students are different, the families are different, some good and some bad in either location. You know, we’re sophisticated people and there’s got to be a test,” Drue says.

He says because businesspeople deal in facts and figures, they want to see a qualified, unbiased study of compensation for teachers and administrators. Says Drue, “It needs to be said in plain English, okay? If we’re behind on a national basis, we will have to educate the community fully about where we are and come up with tax changes, government-supported changes, whatever the change is necessary.”

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Hawaii Business,March