And they formed groups to help Hawaii’s public schools succeed. Some citizens create the groups because they think the public schools are failing and they want to find ways to make them better. Some people form groups because they want to find ways to help schools innovate. Others don’t want their kids to go to Hawaii’s public schools as they now exist, so they want to create new schools.
How many of these groups are they? At the latest count I have identified 96 in the State of Hawaii. I did not include every group who deal with kids such as physicians’ groups. Some of the groups are obvious such as HSTA and HGEA. Both are unions authorized to deal with the State of Hawaii and they have broad goals and cover the many facets of public education. Their work is well known and documented.
One of the most ambitious organizations created by the Hawaii Institute for Public Policy is the 21st Century Schools initiative. The institute was successful in getting legislation passed that would allow the DOE to lease school property to private business. The money from these leases can be used to repair and maintain schools. In addition, the money also can be used to build state of the art schools. The implementation of the legislation has been slow to non-existent. The bottom line is build schools that are geared to learning, use-able by the community when the school day is pau and schools that elicit pride in the students and the whole community.
HawaiiKidsCAN is one of the newest organization in Hawaii. The Children Action Network is an affiliate of 50CAN which is an education advocacy group. One of their foci is greater involvement of students in the education process.
The Learning Coalitions is private operating foundation to promoting excellence in Hawaii’s public schools. The Coalition believes that excellence in our public schools is a shared responsibility.
Another organization involving parents as well as students and the community is Parents and Public Schools Hawaii. They have four goals: 1) effective communication between families, community and schools. 2) greater awareness of educational policies and practices. 3) community involvement in education decision making to promotes student support and student achievement, and 4) accurate media representation of public education. The organization arose out of the furlough controversy.
The last organization of note is the Education Institute of Hawaii. The Institute is an education think tank founded three years ago. I am vice-president of the organization. Our focus is on fiscal transparency of the DOE’s budget and the restructuring of the department to that most of the money goes to the school level to empower administrators and teachers get the money they need to produce the quality education they are capable of producing but are often hamstrung because of the lack of funding. The Institute has held four conferences featuring the best in educational thinkers, published a monograph on the definition of empowerment and embarked on a plan to end the teacher shortage.
Fortunately, these organizations have basically the same goals in mind, so they tend not to get in each other’s way and public education can only benefit.
By Joan Lee Husted