American Samoa Governor Establishes Public Education Reform Task Force

Long-standing problems to be addressed by seven members

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Jan. 12, 2017) – Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has established a seven-member task force, charged with providing recommendations pertaining to the future of public education in American Samoa, as the administration remains concerned with public high school graduates having to take remedial courses at the American Samoa Community College, before being able to continue with higher education courses.

Lolo first hinted about the appointment of a task force to look at education reforms for ASDOE during a cabinet meeting last month. 

In his Jan. 10 executive order, regarding the future of ASDOE, and creating the task force, the governor points out that the state of public education does not result in a sufficient number of local graduating high school seniors having adequate skills in core subject areas of math, science, language arts, and the trades to enable them, absent remedial courses, to move on to higher levels of education or to join the workforce in a skilled trade.

Lolo acknowledged that this is a “long-standing and systemic problem that permeates through all grade levels and has not been effectively addressed for decades”. He also said that most of the legal and structural framework for public education “is rooted” in laws adopted in the 1960s and 1970s.

“Plans are not being converted into specific actions that would result in immediate improvements,” he said. “The ongoing organizational and funding model for public education... may not be sustainable into the future.”

According to the governor, it’s time to review the local public education system from a view that includes broad spectrum of society, to bring in fresh thinking of qualified and successful individuals from outside the traditional field of education and promote the idea of new and, if need be, non-traditional solutions to what are now old problems.

Therefore, he said, he hereby establishes a task force “on meeting our near, mid and long term educational goals” to be known as the “Task Force on the Future of Education in American Samoa.”

Among the duties and responsibilities of the task force, is to review the final report of the 2013 Governor’s Summit on Education and the ASDOE Five-Year Comprehensive Based Improved Plan (2014-2019) and such other documents available at the American Samoa Community College.

Additionally when comparing governance models for school systems serving like-sized communities — the task force should not be limited to reviewing models from U.S. jurisdictions only. The task force is asked, as part of its responsibilities, to give preliminary consideration to financing sources necessary to adequately fund a meaningful vocational trades program that integrates the resources of both ASDOE and ASCC.

Further, make recommendations with respect to changes in the governance structure of ASDOE; and draft statutory changes as may be necessary to accommodate the recommended governance structure.

The task force is chaired by ASPA Executive Director Utu Abe Malae with membership comprising Port Administration Acting Director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Tuia Poumele, a former ASDOE Director; current Acting ASDOE Director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga; ASCC vice president of administrative services and finance Dr. Mikaele Etuale; former ASDOE director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau; acting Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale; and the Governor’s chief legal counsel Steve Watson.

Work of the task force became effective Jan. 10 and is to conclude its work within 90-days.

They are to provide the governor a report for review and subsequent discussion with the Fono relative to the implementation of the task force’s recommendations.

The Samoa News
Copyright © 2017. The Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

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