Selected readings on US charter schools
The Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs approved $1.5 million in emergency funding to 17 Hawaiian-focused public charter schools for the 2013-2014 school year to address the budgetary shortfalls the schools have faced over the past five years.
“It sounds like a lot of money,” said Kaiulani Pahio, of the Native Hawaiian Charter School Alliance. “But it is not. We don’t get the same funding that regular public schools get. It’s around half of what they get. And there is no tuition charged to our students.”
The funding will help serve the roughly 4,000 students statewide.
Pahio said the total only comes to between $250 to $400 per student when the money is divided among all the schools.
The four Kauai charter schools are Kawaikini in Lihue, Ke Kula Niihau in Kekaha, Kula Aupuni Niihau A Kahelelani Aloha in Kekaha and Kanuikapono in Anahola. The other charter schools are located on Oahu, Molokai and the Big Island.
The schools focus on an innovative, culturally driven educational approach designed to maximize the preservation of Hawaiian cultural values and teach the native Hawaiian population, the state’s largest and most undereducated major ethnic group. Ninety percent of the students enrolled have a native Hawaiian ancestry.
Haunani Seward, director of Ke Kula Ni’ihau ‘o Kekaha, said it’s important the Hawaiian culture is passed along.
“When we learn our genealogy, we honor our ancestors,” Seward said. “Whether through language, reforestation, hula drama or sailing canoes, the outcome is ultimately the same, to pass on these important cultural values.”
The office passed the exact emergency funding amounts for the last five years. According to a press release on the $1.5 million allocated in 2010, Haunani Apoliona, OHA chairperson, said the schools “lack the resources they need to operate.”
Funding has been tough since the economic downturn and the schools need all the support they can get, Pahio said.
“We look for support from federal grants and donations in order to sustain quality education,” Pahio said. “Everyone is feeling the economic crunch these days. We will continue to ask for any funding we can get. Anything we can get helps.”
OHA is an independent state agency established through the Hawaii Constitution and statutes to advocate for the betterment of conditions of all native Hawaiians with a Board of Trustees elected by Hawaii voters.
Source: The Garden Island – by Lisa Ann Capozzi