[In February 2011, after a community organizing effort spearheaded by Hagadone and its employees, Pu’uhale Elementary School in Kalihi averted closure by the Hawaii Department of Education. Below is a letter from Hagadone President Clint Schroeder at the time of the effort, detailing the important aspects of the school and the issue of closure that were part of the information disseminated to the public.]
Here are a few facts that ANYONE should know about the Pu’uhale closure:
- The building has been slated for use as a DOE OFFICE BUILDING. It’s climate controlled and will make SUPER offices. Unbelievable. Refer to the Consolidation … [more]Study on the Farrington Complex – PG 22.
- Pu’uhale Elementary has historically scored significantly higher in reading and math when compared to Kalihi Kai – the proposed consolidating school. (IE: 2010 Reading Proficiency 63% at Pu’uhale compared to 53% at Kalihi Kai)
- Pu’uhale Elementary is on track with No Child Left Behind – Kalihi Kai is not (IE: 2010 Pu’uhale scored 15 or 15 adequate progress targets, Kalihi Kai scored 13 of 17).
- Pu’uhale could accommodate up to 300 more students through Redistricting and General Exemption which have not been thoroughly examined yet. This would bring them up to the AVERAGE recommended size. Kalihi Kai would be 170% of the recommended elementary school size by accepting the consolidation students.
There is a hearing today at 3:00. I am going to testify. Hopefully after today and tomorrow we know more.
We are holding a Community Awareness picnic on March 6th in the afternoon on the school grounds (permit has been approved). Manahan, Chun-Oakland, and Hanneman will be in attendance. We need to make sure the community is there in force.
As a concerned citizen, tax payer, community leader, a voter, and most importantly, a neighbor of Pu’uhale elementary, I think it is time that we stand up for what is right – and stop the downward spiral of our public school system. Have you ever wondered why we have a homeless problem? Why the prisons are overcrowded? Heard the conversations at various fundraisers and social events about the state of our public schools? Ever considered that the first two concerns are closely correlated to the last? If so, ever done anything about it?
Now is our chance. You see, it all begins with us. The children of Hawaii should not be a budgetary “burden”. They should be regarded as the solution. Instead, we are herding them into overcrowded schools. Increasing the student to teacher ratios, disregarding the individual language and learning challenges that are so prevalent among particularly the Leeward and West side schools, all the while we are wondering why the public school system is such an undisputable mess. All in the name of what? Budget cuts. I don’t know about you, but thankfully, no one ever sacrificed my education in the name of budgetary relief.
It’s like the chicken and the egg. If the public school system wasn’t so flawed, politicians, teachers, executives, and top business leaders would have their kids in public school. If that were the case – the problems wouldn’t be so insurmountable. Why? Because we defend our kids education – and we care about what happens to them when they leave the house each morning. Consider the fact that some parents don’t feel like they have a voice, and some kids washout of the system because they don’t have an advocate. It’s time to speak for those who feel they can not. It is time to provide the education that Hawaii’s children are guaranteed as citizens of our great country. Most importantly, it is time to ensure that we as taxpayers are getting our moneys worth.
The current situation with the Kalihi community school closure proposal, Pu’uhale Elementary specifically, is unacceptable.
I would like the opportunity to share some of the specific area statistics and facts that have not been adequately considered in this decision making process (such as redistricting, additional geographic exemptions to reach the maximum capacity of nearly 600 students in Pu’uhale Elementary, and the fact that more than 30% of these students have special language needs currently being addressed by the intensive program offered by the Pu’uhale staff members). We have formed a formal organization (the Friends of Pu’uhale) dedicated to the rights of the current student body – and most importantly to ensure (legally and otherwise) that the parents and students have a voice in this matter, and are not discarded as irrelevant, and not discriminated against for color and socio-economic reasons. The precedent that has been set in the case of the Hawaii Kai schools (GE acceptance and redistricting) has PROVEN that there are alternative solutions – and standing up for the right thing to do IS possible.
Why is this important, you may ask? Because Pu’uhale Elementary is a safe, secure environment for these kids that in many cases, have no other alternatives. Learning more about the school, I have discovered that the smaller class sizes, student demographic and psychographic diversity, and intensive teacher focus and interaction have created a very specialized environment. This evolved environment is teaching these children that they have options outside of drugs, violence and the cycle of poverty that they are exposed to in their neighborhood each and every day.
It would be a shame to see these kids forced to walk across Nimitz Highway and Dillingham (nearly a mile) each day to be subjected to overcrowded classrooms, higher teacher to student ratios and less intensive learning programs due to consolidation and reduction in resource. Kalihi Kai’s student population is ALREADY in excess of 600 students. How can we improve the quality of public education if we herd children into classrooms like cattle? As school board members, and community members, we share the obligation to the children to ensure a solid and comprehensive education. After all, these kids are the future adults of this community. It is in our best interest to serve them as well as we can. If I had the resources to personally correct the deficit for Pu’uhale Elementary, I would. The reality of the situation is that we will all have to continue working together to find a solution.
As taxpayers and community members, I would like to invite you to join my staff and I as we read to the children in February. See for yourself what an amazing group of kids we have at Pu’uhale Elementary. See their handwritten signs pleading to “Save Our School”. See the difference we can make as a community and as leaders. I would be honored to read beside you.
As a contributing member of society, and a business leader, I find it reprehensible that the DOE has chosen two schools from the same district for recommended closure. The fact is, this recommendation is discriminatory, and the Kalihi community is being specifically targeted. It is my civic duty to prove that this decision is filled with socio-economic bias, and is being rushed without consideration because the spirit of this neighborhood is generally not to fight back and is passive in nature. Pu’uhale Elementary has the capacity for more than 300 additional students, The community of Kalihi needs this school. The kids of Kalihi need the security and attention the school provides. The ‘ohana of Hawaii needs healthy, educated children.
I beg you to call upon the School Board Members to consider all of the options. We need to ask that they to defer this decision to allow the community to assist with helping to find a viable, profitable solution.
Sincerely and Aloha,
Hagadone Printing Company