I believe that there must be a greater synergy between our educational institutions and the community. The University of Hawaii must not only graduate students, but work with business to insure that their graduates can find jobs and are successful in their careers. As Vice Chair of the Committee on Higher Education, I have opened an on-going dialog with University leaders to insure that we are all working toward a common goal -- to provide our graduates with the tools that they need to be successful in the job market and to contribute to the economic viability of our state.

Toward this end, the university must work with the business community to enhance and develop opportunities to move us forward and to leverage the unique position of the University as a research institution to foster the growth of business in the community. The University should enter into collaborative agreements with the community to address community concerns and business problems for the benefit of both.

The "Race to the Top" serves to highlight many of the problems in K-12 education. The Department of Education is unwilling or unable to meet basic needs such as setting standards or accountability for it's employees. Instead of instituting performance contracts and stakeholder surveys that have been mandated in law since 2004 (Act 51), the public schools have squandered millions of dollars to contract out every day tasks such as homework, lesson planning and test taking skills to outside venders with names such as American's Choice and EdisonLearning.

These school renewal plans are all about "passing the test" and do very little to develop student learning or the development of life long learning skills. These are often accomplished with little or no community input and is contrary to public participation in the decision making process that was a major hallmark of Act 51. The School Community Council must be empowered to provide meaningful input into school decisions and the school must be a more open, democratic and collaborative.