Aiona Wants Independent Audit of Ed Department

Katherine Poythress/Civil Beat

One of the first things James "Duke" Aiona says he'll do if he's elected governor of Hawaii is call for an independent audit of the education department's performance and finances — something that hasn't been done since 1973.

The Republican party's leading gubernatorial candidate introduced Thursday his education policy agenda, which he said increases principals' authority and responds to decades-old criticism of an education system lacking accountability.

Strangely, parts of his plan sounded a lot like the proposals of a possible Democratic general election opponent, former Congressman Neil Abercrombie. The other leading Democratic contender, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, hasn't issued a policy statement on education.

Both Abercrombie and Aiona say that education is a central issue of the campaign. Both say that principals need more power. And while their approaches to the department of education are different, they both want to shift power to the schools. (These same themes emerged when three former Democratic governors created their own grassroots organizationfor education reform earlier this year.)

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