In an unprecedented move to restore educational reform efforts, Governor Johnson Elimo has fired the entire Chuuk Board of Education (CBOE) and replaced them with new members to oversee public education in Chuuk State.
This radical action was much needed after the CBOE fired the Executive Director of Education, Mrs. Gardenia Aisek Macayaon on December 9, 2014.
But it probably would have been politics as usual in Chuuk. The Governor would have kept his political appointees intact on the CBOE had it not been for a Samoan Saint Nick coming to the aid of the children of Chuuk.
Santa Claus arrived on December 19, 2014 in the form of a strongly worded letter from Nikolao Pula, the Director of the US Office of Insular Affairs. Acting on his role as Secretary and Vice-Chairman of the Joint Economic Management Committee (JEMCO), Pula notified his FSM counterpart, FSM Secretary of External Affairs Lorin Robert, that the 2nd quarter Compact Education and Supplemental Education Grant for the Chuuk Department of Education would not be released unless the Chuuk leadership “modify the board’s membership so that the board will start acting in good faith with respect to our mutual agreements.”
Pula, whose father was the first Samoan to serve as Samoa’s Director of Education, has been critical of the slow pace of educational reform in the State under Macayaon’s leadership. But the CBOE’s action was clearly a slap in the face for the man who sees himself as a fellow islander helping Chuuk from within the US bureaucracy. The CBOE terminated Macayaon only a few days after Pula departed Chuuk after participating in a High Level Meeting with Governor Johnson Elimo, House Speaker Innocente Oneisom, Senate President Mark Mailo, Director Macayaon, the CBOE, and other officials specifically to agree on some educational reform benchmarks.
In the letter, Pula complained that the CBOE’s actions “damaged the good faith and consensus that was achieved…” and added that the CBOE had also “taken other actions that will retard the process of reform in Chuuk.”
Pula’s tough love threat to Chuuk’s leaders on behalf of the children of Chuuk was strong enough this time to sway the Governor to appoint a brand new board which includes a combination of new and seasoned veterans:
- Domingko Asor (Southern Namoneas) – Chairman
- Kiki Stinnett (Northern Namoneas) – Vice
- Augustine Mathias (Northwest) – Secretary
- Dr. LJ Rayphand (Education Expert)
- Clark Graham (Private School)
- Herner Braiel (Mortlocks)
- Kirisos Victus (Faichuuk)
- Ansina Kony (Public Schools)
The new board first order of business was to appoint Mr. Graceful Enlet as the Acting Deputy Director of Education succeeding the late Noah Ruben who passed away unexpectedly in December. With a completely new board, Chuuk State can hopefully accelerate the pace of educational reform. For now the CBOE awaits the court’s ruling on the lawsuit filed by Gardenia Aisek Macayaon.
We commend Nik Pula for his leadership in this matter and wish the new board all the blessings and hopes of a new era in public education in our beloved Chuuk State.