This particular issue has been addressed to various degrees of success here in Hawai'i. A lot of progress has been made but it has been a long time in the coming, and for many, not soon enough. And if we are to be honest, this is the most important of all issues in our islands and of our time.
We do not see education as something that we should sacrifice in favor of something else or even as something that we can negotiate so as to give all keiki less than they deserve.
Nothing less than our future and our humanity is at stake when we talk about education. Therefore, we take a strong progressive stance on what our educational system needs to be here in Hawai'i. Conservative and gradual approaches are not going to cut it.
The foundation for our future...
It's time to invest.
The simple truth is that any state will only be as successful as their investment in education. For some reason, here in Hawai'i, we are always invoking the children. Keiki this, keiki that. Then, when it comes to actually doing something to take care of children the way we need to, we settle for less than our children deserve. There have been some big efforts to restructure and improve Hawai'i's education system and that progress can not be overlooked. But we keep settling when we should be striving for higher.
It goes without saying that the very first step we need to take here in Hawai'i is to increase funding. The main way that is being used to help fund public schools is by relying on federal dollars. If Hawai'i is to be as self reliant as possible, we need to be able to fund our education system completely on our own. So the goal should be to wean ourselves from federal funds.
Aside from re-prioritizing some state funds, the easiest way to achieve this is by cultivating our own marijuana and hemp industry. By fully legalizing recreational marijuana, regulating it and taxing it appropriately, similar to the way we do alcohol, we can drastically increase school funding. Additionally, starting our own Hemp industry for use in a plethora of other applications, would go even farther in empowering Hawai'i to properly educate and feed our keiki.
In the short term, that new revenue will allow for an Increase in teacher pay and benefits in order to retain our most valuable educators and serve to lower the number of teachers that leave Hawai'i due to costs of living. The increase in funding will also allow for a gradual increase in the number of teachers through local training and recruitment. It will facilitate food programs and school farms so that schools may have organic fresh produce to feed their students at no cost to any student.
The long term goal is to decrease class sizes so that there is always a teacher and an assistant teacher per 12 students. With the end goal of 6 students to 1 teacher. Meanwhile, we will lay the preparatory foundations for all new school facilities for our students. In many places all over the islands, our schools look more like rundown shacks rather than proper educational facilities. People are always talking about their communities and how to make them better, well what better way than to have educational facilities that function in creative ways to invite everyone in the local community to partake in what they have to offer.
We also want to diversify the options students have as they progress through their educational levels by providing: apprenticeships, vocational training, understudy programs, focused training and advanced education for those that already know what they wish to do. Incorporating open programs of instruction, for those that want to know more than just one subject, would also go a long way at relieving the stress from many students that have no idea as to what they want to do with their lives.
The focus will no longer be just on college. The focus will shift more on technical skills, tech schools, trade schools, entrepreneurial programs and the like.
We would ensure that all higher education is free for public colleges and universities, thereby helping to end the tragic state of student debt that has so many engulfed and stressed for life. Private educational institutions will have strict new guidelines to operate under to ensure that they are fair, properly taking care of their students and that they are on par with the latest educational standards.
One major area that would need to be changed is how we teach our history and from what perspective. Here in Hawai'i we have a rich history long before Hawai'i became what it is today. And we should teach that history from the Hawai'ian perspective first and foremost. In order for our children to understand why Hawai'i is the way that it is and how it came to be what it is, a true narrative must be taught that does not sugar coat our history or sensors it.
We need to have real civic education programs that teach about our flawed system and the many laws that govern our daily lives. We need programs to create a new generation of super voters who are ready and engaged that would go a long way to maybe even lowering the voting age.