Lawmakers, administrators question Governor's Classroom Empowerment Act
by Marissa Eusebio, KUAM News
The act that calls for a site-based management program and decentralization of administrative positions in order to focus more on the primary goal of educating young minds is Governor Felix Camacho’s Classroom Empowerment Act.
Governor Camacho first introduced the act during his State of the Island Address, in which he called for the support of the senators in an aggressive new approach to the education of Guam's children. While that statement was made five months ago, a working draft of the Act has now been completed, which has been distributed to the Department of Education superintendent and the school principals.
Superintendent Juan Flores says that he supports the Act, but expressed concerns regarding the claim that site based management leads to student achievement. Flores says that to his knowledge he isn't aware of any research that proves this is true.
In the meantime, KUAM News asked senators Larry Kasperbauer (the former chair of the Committee on Education), Carmen Fernandez (the current chair of the Education Committee) and Robert Klitzkie (a former DOE superintendent) if they had received copies from the Administration, all of which said they had not. After KUAM News provided copies to all three, Senator Klitzkie, a champion of site based management for nearly a decade, said that one part which he was struck by was the transfer of personnel and procurement functions from DOE to the Department of Administration.
He told KUAM News, “This is an extremely important item in the bill, and one that I think requires a certain amount of thought and analysis. I think that initially that anything that allows the superintendent and the people in the Department to concentrate on teaching and learning is probably a good thing.”
Senator Carmen Fernandez refused to be interviewed. However, her staff provided a statement on the senator's behalf, indicating that she is reviewing the document and that she has major concerns about it. Senator Kasperbauer said he was concerned about the Act's establishment of school councils, which aims to give more autonomy to schools, but at the same time presents a roadblock for the school administration to make decisions.
KUAM questioned Governor's Spokesperson Shawn Gumataotao as to why senators had not received a copy, to which he responded that the Act is all about the education of the children and not about politics. In the meantime, Guam Education Policy Board members just received their copy of the Act today, as well. The Act places several tasks into the hands of the Board, including making it responsible for implementing a plan to transfer personnel and procurement functions to DOA.
Meanwhile, the responsibilities of central office are now limited to
planning and development, curriculum development, teaching standards and
testing and administration of federal programs.
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