Hawaiian immersion Maui education

Nā Leo Kāko’o o Maui is the community advocate group for Hawaiian Language Immersion education on Maui. The purpose is to advocate for the growth, development and perpetuation of Hawaiian language revitalization schools on Maui.

In order to put this issue into context, it is important to provide a brief historical timeline of the Hawaiian Language.

• 1840 Hawaiian Kingdom law for compulsory education
• 1848 631 Schools in Hawaiʻi (All Hawaiian language)
• 1851 First Government Sponsored English School
• 1881 Pāʻia School opened as the first government English only school on Maui.
• 1893 Overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom
• 1895 Bureau of Instruction, Republic of Hawaiʻi, “The gradual extinction of a Polynesian dialect may be regretted for sentimental reasons, but it is certainly for the interest of the Hawaiians themselves.”
• 1896 Hawaiian Language is banned in schools, government office, legislature and courts.
• 1896-1983 87 years of English only public education in Hawaiʻi.
• 1978 Hawaiian is confirmed as an official language of the State of Hawaiʻi along with English through ConCon.
• 1983 There were less than 50 children under the age of 15 who spoke Hawaiian fluently
• 1984 First Hawaiian language Pre-School established – Pūnana Leo
• 1987 First Hawaiian language immersion schools established as public school programs at Keaukaha and Waiau.
• 1989 Hawaiian language immersion established at Pāʻia Elementary.

Over the past couple of months, there have been many articles, news reports and discussions in our community about the plight and happenings of the Hawaiian Language Immersion education program here on Maui, specifically at Pāʻia School. There are several points that need to be clarified regarding the issue:

1) There is no “plan” regarding this issue
Several community meetings (in the Pāʻia district) were held to gather feedback and manaʻo regarding solutions to address the continued growth at Pāʻia school. A report compiled by an independent facilitator along with recommendations will be forwarded to the BOE and DOE. A request by the community to begin dialoguing together is also in the works.

2) This is not a new issue (increased student enrollment)
Over the past decade Pāʻia school’s Hawaiian Language Immersion enrollment has consistently increased. The growth trend is projected to continue.

3) This is not only an issue about Papa Malaʻao
Three years ago, after a series of sit down meetings that included the school principal, DOE personnel and parents regarding the need for an additional papa malaʻao (kindergarten) class a second class opened thus avoiding the 1st planned “lottery”. Since then, in each progressing year additional classes have been opened.This year, a third papa malaʻao classroom was opened to accommodate the requests from families desiring a Hawaiian Language Immersion education. This avoided the 2nd planned “lottery” situation.

4) It is not about “kicking out” any students
There have been statements that all the non-Immersion students/families will be “kicked out” of Pāʻia School. We are reiterating that there is no plan yet developed regarding what the department will do regarding Pāʻia School.

5) Where does obligation lie regarding this issue
This is a question that many community residents and Immersion parents have asked. The Board of Education is the body responsible for creating policy and the Department of Education implements and adheres to those policies.

As Kalele Kekauoha-Schultz wrote in the Maui News viewpoint article (dated May 11, 2103): “Learning our language is a right, not a priviledge. The right was legally banned from 1896 to 1978, and public education helped to implement this ban. As a result, a generational gap occurred in the usage and what would have been the natural evolution of our mother tongue. In fact, by the 1980s, Hawaiian language was near extinct. A generation later, against amazing odds, our language lives.”

If you have any questions please email paiaconversionquestions@gmail.com

For more information about Nā Leo Kāko’o o Maui click here.

Image Credit: Aha Punana Leo

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