As a product of Maui public schools, I have personally experienced the tremendous impact excellent teachers can have on a child’s life. Around my twelfth birthday, my father suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. My straight A’s began rapidly sliding due to a distracted and grieving young mind.
Two exceptional teachers, Mr. Camarillo and Mrs. Hiraguchi, stepped up to spend time with me after school house, to give me extra attention on my assignments, talk about personal matters, or even jam ‘ukulele. They would even offer to lessen the burden of my mother (a newly single mother of four) by driving me home or to football practice when pau. This type of teaching excellence should be encouraged.
I think a new Kihei High School will alleviate teachers at Maui High and Baldwin from over-crowded classrooms and allow this kind of individual focus on children who need it most. Additionally, Kihei High School will reduce highway traffic from South Maui into Kahului, provide hundreds of jobs, strengthen our future workforce, and establish a true hub for our South Maui community.
I think it is important and I am confident that by working together–and being able to caucus–with the rest of the Maui delegation, we will not only re-acquire the $20 million but also scoop the total approximately $140 million needed to drive the project home by 2016. With support from the community, our keiki will soon be attending a new high school.
We need to look at education on a broader scale. Public schools are a vital investment for Hawaii’s future, and must remain a priority in our legislature. Our goal should be to provide every child, irrespective of socio-economic or geographical background, with the best education we can!
There is a lot of finger pointing regarding who is responsible for our students’ academic successes and Hawaii’s future economy. Instead of this, surely working together for our keiki would be better. I support partnerships such as the P-20 Initiative for Education—a statewide partnership led by the Early Learning Council, the Hawaii State Department of Education, and the University of Hawaii System—in order to mend seams in a child’s holistic academic plan. Additionally, I recognize there needs to be work to be done to bridge connections between the Governor, the Board of Education, the Legislature, and the teacher’s union to cut through red tape and lay the most important decisions in the hands of those with the highest stakes: teachers, parents, and students!
Image Credit: Shannon Brown