BY MARALYN KURSHALS — My family moved to Hawai`i when I was seven years old. My two daughters were born and raised on Oahu and went to Hawai`i public schools. I have over 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, working with children and youth, people with disabilities, single parents, residents of housing shelters and the Native Hawaiian community.
I have been involved in educational issues since my children were young. I was a volunteer in my children’s schools and advocate for education. I have been a substitute teacher and taught the C-Base curriculum, a high school equivalency program to teenagers in Wai`anae. I also taught after school life skills to teens at Waipahu and Wai`anae High School and job readiness skills to adults living in housing shelters.
My work has included promoting the importance of early childhood education in the community for Good Beginnings Alliance and INPEACE. I currently work with mental health services for children and youth as a Quality Assurance Specialist.
I was elected to public office for several terms on the Wai`anae Neighborhood Board and served as chair of the Education Committee. Along with a dedicated group, I founded the Wai`anae Coast for Better Education. We held a conference on education in Makaha, and worked on educational reform issues. I currently coordinate free book giveaways to promote literacy in the community.
I would like to serve as the Leeward BOE representative because I believe responsive leadership and building community will help create successful schools. A BOE representative must listen to the concerns and solutions offered by the professionals in education, families and students as well as the community. We need to explore best practices models and implement strategies here in Hawai`i that are culturally appropriate.
Furlough Fridays made us realize how much we value our schools. Because of public pressure, creative partnerships and solutions were found to save valuable instructional days. Ongoing community involvement and partnerships is what needs to happen all the time, not just when we have a crisis. More partnerships between the government, business and the private sector and other funding sources such as federal grants, is a way to avoid any future crisis.
It is also critical that we do an assessment of where our DOE dollars are being expended and take corrective action to assure equity in distribution for schools in lower income communities. One of the core tools of any school is access to information. Many textbooks in our schools are falling apart, obsolete or not even available to students. We need to enter the 21st century and provide new technology to our students including laptops and other tools. The laptop distribution program to 9th graders at Nanakuli and Waianae High School has been very successful. Equipment and facilities in some schools are in hazardous disrepair. A comprehensive assessment with corrective action initiatives can help us set priorities.
I am excited about this opportunity to share my ideas and hope I will be able serve as your Leeward BOE representative. Please visit my website at: www.maralynkurshals.com
Maralyn Kurshals is a Board of Education Candidate for the Leeward Special Election on Nov. 2