“Laura Brown Image”

Hawaii’s Charter School law sets schools up to fail, according to a U.S. Department of Education Undersecretary who recently examined the local charter school climate. Yesterday, Gov. Linda Lingle made the first move to renew charter school growth locally, starting by raising public awareness with a press conference at Voyager Charter School in Kakaako. The wall behind Lingle was plastered with several bright blue posters containing five examples of school choice: Local School Boards, Charter Schools, Home Schools, E-schools and Magnet Schools. It was hard to miss the point that school ”’choice”’ is the direction this administration will pursue.

Voyager is situated in a storefront on Auahi Street behind CompUsa. The school offers an integrated curriculum and a team approach to teaching, along with a small student-to-teacher ratio. Students expressed their satisfaction as they told the governor about their school, but it was their well-mannered behavior and expressions of joy and wonder at the impromptu gathering with their special guest that revealed to onlookers that Voyager seems to have hit on a formula that works.

The gathering provided Lingle with the opportunity to reiterate her administration’s main focus for education reform: allow charter schools to flourish by removing the cap for new charters and by providing fair funding (95 percent federal funding formula with 5 percent to state DOE Administration), allow the people to decide by referendum on the school board issue and remove principals from the union.

Instead of relegating words like “choice,” “parent involvement” and “charter schools” to the sterile discussions of the Capitol where legislators and lobbyists are often far removed from the public school experience, the governor beckoned the public to join her — to discover the look, the feel and the experience of what it means to have freedom, for perhaps the first time, to choose a school where children thrive and want to learn.

”’Laura Brown is the education reporter for HawaiiReporter.com and can be reached via email at”’ mailto:LauraBrown@hawaii.rr.com

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