Grassroot Testimony on Extracurricular Activities for Homeschoolers

Grassroot Testimony on Extracurricular Activities for Homeschoolers

February 11, 2015   To: Senate Committee on Education Sen. Michelle Kidani, Chair Sen. Breene Harimoto, Vice Chair   From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii President Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.   RE: SB 361 — RELATING TO EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES   Dear Chair and Committee Members: The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to offer its comments on SB 361, which would allow home schooled students to participate in extracurricular activities at the public school they would otherwise have attended. With this bill, Hawaii would join the increasing number of states that are working to grant equal access to extracurricular and enriching activities to home schooled students. This is a question of fairness, offering education options to parents while ensuring that children still have the opportunity to grow their talents and abilities to the utmost. It is worth remembering that homeschooling families pay the same taxes to support public education as everyone else and should therefore be able to make use of the public facilities and services that they would otherwise be entitled to. For those who are concerned about the possible effect of an influx of homeschooled students in public school extracurricular activities, it has been found that in states granting equal access, only 3-5% of homeschoolers participate. In short, this is a chance to do something that encourages inclusiveness in the local school community, and is unlikely to include significant costs for the school. Thank you for the opportunity to submit our comments. Sincerely, Keli’i Akina, Ph.D. President, Grassroot Institute of...
Fundamental Principles of Education Reform

Fundamental Principles of Education Reform

It is universally recognized that the education of children is of vital importance.  From genuine concern about future generations to a desire to sway the cultural and political direction of the nation, education is the key. Since it plays such a vital role, nearly everyone has a say on the topic. Local school boards make decisions for the public schools within their jurisdiction, the boards of private schools affect curriculum and practices and the state and federal government attempt to regulate it all. The Grassroot Institute has worked to improve educational options for families in Hawaii and has produced research to that end.  This article will take a step back and consider characteristics of sound education policy. Then, rather than evaluating each proposed change to education individually, we can simply assess if it advances or limits these standards. 1. Competition Education is commodity in the marketplace. Often commodities are only thought of as physical goods but services function the exact same way.  There is a demand for someone to educate children and there are people and institutions willing to meet that demand. In a purely free market, this service would be priced according to the quality of the service together with the supply and demand for it. There is, however, little room for competition in a state controlled system. Schools have no need to advertise themselves or prove to families that they are the best option for their children.  A school will continue to receive funding even if teachers are poor or children are failing.  There is no incentive to improve. For private educators, there is an incentive to...
Video: Improving Public Schools with Randy Roth

Video: Improving Public Schools with Randy Roth

In this episode of E Hana Kakou, Grassroot President Keli’i Akina interviews one of Hawaii’s true “movers and shakers.” An attorney, activist, and law professor at University of Hawaii, Randall Roth has left his mark on our community, and has been central to many efforts to improve life in the Aloha state. His account of his involvement in the making of the movie The Descendants touches beautifully on the tension between respecting the past and encouraging progress that so many in Hawaii identify with. With his sights now set on improving our public schools, Professor Roth shares with Dr. Akina his thoughts about what needs to be done about the school system and what he hopes to accomplish with a newly established educational think-tank. Watch the video in its entirety below or click here to view on You...
Education: Why there is no easy fix for the system

Education: Why there is no easy fix for the system

The various education systems around the world often have their merits, but also their flaws. Some systems might equip a large number of students with the tools and knowledge to become valuable members of the workforce, but at the same time have trouble encouraging artistic and creative skills, which in turn can be important to generating innovators. Others might support the latter two, but result in a shortage of potential knowledge workers. What both of these cases do have in common is that they aim to satisfy society, not provide the best education for individual students. In many societies where conformity is valued, the government–often with public support–sets up a standardized system to reinforce whichever qualities are considered valuable. If those traits are valued by the market, the economic performance of the country can profit, but students with other qualities are often left behind. In Germany, for example, a very high value is placed on academics. This leads to a high proportion of students acquiring masters degrees and PhDs. However, some students with talents outside of the academic realm are considered to be of little value and are thereby disenfranchised. By comparison, the current system in the US reinforces social stasis. Children of wealthy parents attend prestigious private schools which all but promise them access to the even more expensive ivy league colleges and universities. With this advantage in education, they are far more likely to do well for themselves than the average student–a cycle that contributes to income inequality. Some degree of inequality is natural and even beneficial, but if the gap expands too much, it can lead to social...
School Choice Event Shows New Way Forward for Hawaii Education Reform

School Choice Event Shows New Way Forward for Hawaii Education Reform

Grassroot Institute’s Friedman Dinner emphasizes bipartisanship, cooperation in improving schools HONOLULU, Hawaii—August 1, 2014—A growing movement for education reform was in evidence at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s Friedman Dinner, an annual event held in support of school choice. The dinner, which took place on July 31st at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, featured a bipartisan discussion of education reform and was attended by a number of state policy makers. The event was opened with a blessing from state Senator Mike Gabbard (D) and was emceed by former state Rep. Lynn Finnegan (R). Both Hawaii Senate President Donna Mercado Kim (D) and Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom (R) made remarks supporting a wealth of education options for a better Hawaii. The featured speakers for the night were two legislators from Oklahoma: state Senator Jabar Shumate (D) and state Rep. Jason Nelson (R). Together, they helped enact a school choice program for Oklahoma that fit within the restrictions of the state Constitution. With Hawaii facing similar legal barriers to certain reforms (e.g. school vouchers), Sen. Shumate and Rep. Nelson provided an inspiring message of how cooperation and creativity can provide new options for Hawaii’s children. Earlier in the day, and in conjunction with the dinner, Grassroot Institute sponsored an educational round table with more than two dozen different leaders in education, from principals and teachers to homeschool leaders and charter school officials. Many different viewpoints were represented in the ensuing conversation about how to increase the number of educational choices for parents in Hawaii. Representatives of public and private schools were able to exchange views with stakeholders and reformers, including...