It appears that not all  Common Core implementations are bad… Hawaii seems to have beaten the odds, effectively proving what I think was our biggest complaint… that the standards are not the problem… it’s the implementation…. 

Figures the American location most distant from Wall Street, would be the one to find the secret of success… So,  how did they beat the odds… What did they do different?

Meet  Ms Matayoshi:  the women so freaked that her state won a Race To The Top grant she promptly drove her car straight into her husband’s. Perhaps if we look at what she did, we can see where the differences are… Ready???

Ms. Matayoshi did two key things: She overhauled her leadership team and tapped Stephen Schatz, a former teacher and complex-area superintendent whose on-the-ground battle scars gave him credibility with rank-and-file teachers, and put him in charge of Race to the Top efforts in August 2011. And she ingrained Race to the Top into educators’ everyday work, turning Hawaii’s proposal into the state board of education’s adopted strategic plan….

The comparison between ours and Hawaii’s two leadership-drivers is obvious.  One drives from the bottom up… The other orchestrates from the top down.   One has local cred’s.  The other has a Rodel background.

Secondly, in Hawaii, most of the RTTT money went to creating additional pre-school classes, and extended learning time for at-risk students… Not to computer systems, not to data coaches, not to broadband, not to corporations like Pearson, AIR, and Achieve, and not to consultants like McKinsey….  Delaware is still “discussing” its increasing of the number of Pre-school classes.  Delaware still has no solid plans for extended class times  for all at-risk students.

Hawaii’s Race to the Top initiative WAS NOT about “implementing certain programs” or “buying products” for schools and students.  “What we’ve started here is about effective teaching and effective leading. It’s not about fancy tools. It’s not something that we bought,” said Ronn Nozoe, the deputy state superintendent….

Furthermore, Hawaii’s two “zones of innovation” that house Hawaii’s lowest-performing schools, are the ones that have received the most attention, money, and resources…  Putting money where the need is greatest….  (Hello?  Where did all of Delaware’s money go? hello?  hello?)

Tropical cakewalk?  Not hardly.  Up to 49 percent of students are chronic absentees; 86 percent are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price school meals; half don’t have Internet access at home; 47 percent are Native Hawaiian and hundreds more are the  radioactive immigrants from the Marshall Islands, who must overcome significant language, cultural, and financial barriers….

The secret of their success was that instead of listening to Wall Street…. they listened to teachers….  Of course it certainly helps they don’t have a News Journal editorial board in Hawaii to muck things up …

Fixing education will only come by boosting one-on-one personal contact between teacher and student.  Personal interaction works! Even if you stick a Common Core appellation on top of it…. Hawaii proves it still works…