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Hawaii Department of Education

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Title: Hawaii Department of Education  
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Subject: Honolulu, Niihau, Captain Cook, Hawaii, Holualoa, Hawaii, Honaunau-Napoopoo, Hawaii, Kailua, Hawaii County, Hawaii, Kealakekua, Hawaii, Aiea, Hawaii, Ewa Villages, Hawaii, Halawa, Hawaii
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Hawaii Department of Education

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Education is the only statewide public education system in the United States. The school district can be thought of as analogous to the school districts of other cities and communities in the United States, but in some manners can also be thought of as analogous to the state education agencies of other states. As the official state education agency, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education oversees all 283 public schools and charter schools and over 13,000 teachers in the State of Hawaiʻi. It serves approximately 177,871 students annually. The HIDOE is currently headed by Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi (since 9/13/2010).[1][2] The district is headquartered in the Queen Liliuokalani Building in Honolulu CDP, City and County of Honolulu on the island of Oahu.[3][4]


Kamehameha III established Hawaii's first public education system on October 15, 1840. This makes the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education the oldest school system west of the Mississippi River,[5] and only system established by a sovereign monarch.


The school district has the following positions in its the Board of Education. Positions:

  • Board First Vice Chairperson[6]
  • Board Second Vice Chairperson[7]

At-large positions:

District positions

  • Central District (Oahu)[13]
  • Hawaii District
  • Honolulu District (Oahu)[14]
    • Kaimuki-McKinley-Roosevelt Complex Area
  • Kauai District[15]
  • Leeward District (Oahu)[16]
  • Maui District[17]
  • Windward District (Oahu)[18]

The board also has a student member and a military liaison.[19][20]

The Board of Education is empowered by the State Constitution (Article X, Section 3[21] ) to formulate statewide education policy. The Board also has the power to appoint the Superintendent of Education as the chief executive officer of the system. The Superintendent reports to and can be terminated by the Board.

The State Department of Education currently carries suggested benchmarks for each educational grade and subject which are available on its website. However, a law creating a standard state public school curriculum, the first of its kind in Hawaii, did not pass during the 2006 legislative session.

Relevant debates

Probably the most current and controversial debate over Hawaiʻi school reform has to do with the structure of the State Department of Education: specifically, whether it should remain centralized or be broken into smaller districts. The main rationale usually given for the current centralized model is equity in distribution of resources: all schools are theoretically funded from the same pool of money on an equitable basis. (Most schools on the U.S. Mainland are organized into school districts funded from local property taxes; thus more affluent school districts theoretically receive more money and resources than less affluent areas.) Supporters of decentralization see it as a means of moving decision-making closer to the classroom, and thus achieving better student performance.

The debate divides roughly along party lines, with Republicans generally supporting decentralization and the Democrats supporting the centralized status quo. In 2002, Republican Governor Linda Lingle ran on a campaign to reorganize the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education into smaller school districts that were localed modeled after a system found in Canada. The Democrat-controlled Hawaiʻi State Legislature, however, voted not to enact this plan in 2003 and 2004.

In January 2004, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich wanted to create a system similar to that of Hawaiʻi in his state but met fierce opposition from local school boards who did not want to lose control. Michigan also has discussed unifying their school districts and faced similar opposition.

In October 2009, the Hawaiʻi Department of Education agreed to a furlough program for Hawaiʻi's public schools that reduced the number of instructional days by 17 days to a total of 163 days. This is the smallest number of instructional days anywhere in the United States of America. Before this program was instituted, Hawaiʻi's public schools were already ranked well below the national average.


Public High Schools

City Schools
Honolulu CDP 8
Greater Oʻahu 15
Niʻihau 1
Kauaʻi 3
Molokaʻi 1
Lānaʻi 1
Maui 5
Big Island 11

Public Middle Schools

City Schools
Honolulu CDP 24
Greater Oʻahu 17
Niʻihau 1
Kauaʻi 3
Molokaʻi 1
Lānaʻi 1
Maui 6
Big Island 18

Public Elementary Schools

City Schools
Honolulu CDP 55
Greater Oʻahu 76
Niʻihau 1
Kauaʻi 13
Molokaʻi 4
Lānaʻi 1
Maui 17
Big Island 37

See also

Hawaii portal
Schools portal
Education portal


External links

  • i State Department of Education
  • Native Hawaiian Education Council
  • i Official list of public school alumni sites in Hawaii

Template:United States school districts

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