Parents Beware: Hawaii’s Public Schools Are Failing Our Kids

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Hawaii Schools got a black mark in the newspapers last week.

While the Department of Education wants everyone to see the “glass is half full” it is important for parents to understand that for their kids the “glass is more than half empty.”


After reading the newspaper account of education school test scores last week I prepared the following summary and added some explanatory comments for my neighbors. These ratings are difficult enough to understand with seven different ratings but the real question is what can a parent do given the status of their child’s school?

The bottom line for all of us to remember is that the “standard” being measured is that 3 out of 10 students can meet the math requirements and 4 out of 10 can meet the reading requirements. But the opposite of that means that 7 children out of 10 children do not have to meet the math requirements and 6 children out of 10 do not need to meet the reading requirements.

These numbers (7 and 6 out of 10) represent the majority of kids — over 60 percent. Therefore, everything you see about test results and how good specific schools may or may not be doing comes down to the simple fact that over 60 percent of our children do not have to meet any math or reading standards for the schools to get these ratings.

If you are a parent entrusting you child for a short 12 years to the Hawaii education system; well, beware.

The questions and explanations below are designed to at least alert parents to the options they have to transfer or get tutoring for their child.

On the other hand, if you are a taxpayer who no longer has kids in school; what can be done? I suggest that candidates for state office in 2006 be asked to commit to quick movement of funds from DOE headquarters to classrooms. Act 51 is moving far too slowly to make a difference in the life of current students. Only the state Legislature can call the Department of Education to task and demand results.

The second suggestion is getting a core curriculum so different schools can at least have a common instructional base so that books can be purchased for the entire system instead of the current customization school by school. Imagine, a parent moves their child to a better performing school and discovers that the curriculum is much simpler than the previous and that simplicity is the reason for the higher rating. Auwe! What can a parent do?

The third suggestion is to reconsider county school boards to get decisions closer to the parents and grandparents. If a board has fewer schools to manage they can take more time to discuss the issues related to each and hear out the parents and teachers more completely. Currently the Board of Education handles 282 schools and meets too seldom to spend more than minutes on any one school.

Time marches on and our kids growth waits for no man or bureaucrat.

See “Assessing Hawaii Student Performance file”

”’Paul E. Smith is a Candidate for State Senate District 13 (Nuuanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Alewa Heights, Liliha, Sand Island). Reach him via email at”’ ”’More at”’

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