Castle Complex Is Striving For Change With The Public’s Help

Editor’s note: The following appeal for change in the Castle Complex is written by Kailua resident Marina A. Piscolish, Ph.D., founder and president of MAPping Change LLC, and an Oahu-based consultant which trains, facilitates and supports change-management to organizations and communities.

Let’s change how we change public education, because how we arrive at change is the difference between success and failure.

Public education is undergoing major change and producing ambitious efforts to improve schools. But the good ideas that emerge from the process need strong supporters to make them happen. Otherwise, it won’t last.

Lasting change comes when people are encouraged to speak their thoughts and be heard. The best change processes allow leaders to lead; teachers to instruct with confidence and joy; and the voices of families, students, community partners and all stakeholders to be counted.

The Castle Complex – 10 schools serving greater Kaneohe – is one of the first to respond to these challenges by providing regular opportunities for dialogue and decision-making. This opportunity now includes parents, students, community, teachers, non-teaching staff and administrators at all grade levels, and it’s called Castle

Complex Community Council (C4). As a local invention, it’s beginning to make a meaningful difference in the following ways:

* helps the complex and its complex area superintendent (CAS) focus on the right work
* leads by motivating others to follow, such as school community councils, parent leaders, students and community partners
* assures access and a voice for all stakeholders
* promotes positive education news and public understanding of issues
* operates transparently and shares accountability for results
* develops leaders and promotes partnerships
* monitors initiatives that shape the complex
* serves as an academic review team to monitor progress.

The C4 is not your typical special-interest advocacy. The two-year-old council’s members unite – the working mom, higher education administrator, principal, nonprofit director, preschool advocate, student behavioral health specialist, high school student and others. Including the CAS, it has 21 members – 16 elected from complex schools and four appointed from the community.

With their common purpose and commitment, they weave diverse perspectives into a holistic understanding of issues and act as “critical friends” and voices to the CAS. Their differences enrich the dialogue and work with school community councils on a unified vision of teaching and learning.

Although it has no formal power and isn’t sanctioned, early results show C4 already is impacting lives and inspiring other complexes in Hawaii to design their versions of this body. But it needs support, time and skills to succeed, so there is a role here for everyone.

How should we change the path to meaningful change? The Legislature and the Board of Education must value the group’s commitment and reflect it in their bills and policies.

The state Department of Education must continue partnering in new ways with complexes, be open to innovation and invest in capacity building of partners. Toward that end, it has created Complex Area Support Teams.

Finally, teachers, parents and the public need to step up, participate in our schools and advocate for public education through larger public and political processes. A healthy democracy requires good public education, and that education must be built using democratic principles.

The public is invited to attend the C4 meetings, which convene from 4:15 to 7 p.m. every second Thursday at the DOE Windward district office – in Room A at King Intermediate School.