Sun Feb 12, 2012, 12:10 AM
ellisonz (26,318 posts)
Hawaiian Language Students Getting Lost In Translation, Advocates Say
By Katherine Poythress 02/10/2012
Hawaiian translations of the state's annual test for public school students have failed twice now, and Hawaiian language advocates say it's time to take the state's indigenous tongue seriously.
Hawaii is the only state, after all, that has designated its native language as one of its official languages.
But developing such a test could cost about $2.8 million, or $8,000 for each of the 350 students who would take it, the state Department of Education estimates. The English assessment cost a total of $7.1 million last year, or $74.82 per student.
A bill before the state House of Representatives this year proposes that the Department of Education develop a separate test in Hawaiian for students enrolled in Hawaiian Language Immersion Program schools. It has received testimony from dozens of people in support, and none opposing.
2 replies, 832 views
Hawaiian Language Students Getting Lost In Translation, Advocates Say (Original post)
Response to ellisonz (Original post)
Sun Feb 12, 2012, 12:32 AM
ProgressiveProfessor (22,144 posts)
1. Any particular reason the Hawaiian immersion schools should not be considered charter schools?
That is effectively what they are...taxpayer funded niche environments that now want exceptions to what every other public school in the state is doing.
To debunk the "We do it for Hispanics" argument...there are no immigrants arriving who speak only Hawaiian. When I grew up in Honolulu, no one came to school with Hawaiian being their only language. I do not believe that has changed.
The Hawaii school systems are still in deep yogurt. They never really did do what Federal law requires for children with disabilities due to budget concerns, and that was about a decade back. The overall situation has worsened since then.
I have nothing against the language or its people, since they are also my ohana. Hawaiian was the first language I learned after English. If we really cared about the the children, we would shut down the immersion schools or at least limit expenditures on them to no more than an equivalent public school and make sure their graduates are also adequately skilled in standard academics.
Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #1)
Sun Feb 12, 2012, 12:58 AM
ellisonz (26,318 posts)
2. I absolutely agree that the state is taking exceptional measures...
...that effectively constitute social engineering. But I also question, if that social engineering is not a worthy cause. I wonder if outside funding could not be found to eliminate the funding gap, but I think parents ought to have the choice. I think this is just further demonstration that Hawaiians need the federally protected status that something like the Akaka Bill would convey. I agree the whole system is in crisis, but if I was going to point fingers it would have to be at the electorate for producing a public education system that as is commonly said is just ahead of Mississippi and right behind Alabama.
I would actually be curious to see a comparison of the scores in English of 12th graders of the immersion schools vs. the public schools. I would hazard that the immersion students might actually perform better than their non-immersed peers. I would need to read the bill, but I think this probably isn't more than a very small step. I also wonder how the heck it would cost that much to simply have better translations of the test and evaluation. I mean, what the heck do they do on Niihau?
I think there is a compelling state interest in these schools, but need more information to make an informed judgment on this question. I also wonder why they are not receiving instruction in English too for the course of their education. Although, I should probably disclose that I am not in principle opposed to charter schools, I've personally seen the failings of the public education system in this country and do agree with the notion that the biggest problem is a lack of sense of stakeholders in the school.
Maybe Inouye can get an earmark.