By Noelani Kahapea at Honolulu Star-Advertiser

This past weekend, hundreds of families flocked to Windward Mall for the Hawaii K-12 Parent and School Expo — the first time in recent memory so many different school types came together for a school fair. More than 35 schools were represented, including traditional public, private, public charters, and others. The event coincided with the start of National School Choice Week (Jan. 21-27), a national effort to raise school choice awareness and promote a variety of education options.

At the school fair, parents met with schools, learned about their unique programs, and explored which school might fit their child’s needs. I spoke with several parents who were grateful for the opportunity to learn about their education options. One parent shared how he just moved to Hawaii and is looking for a school for his special-needs ninth-grader. And while some families were there to visit with specific schools, others weren’t sure if their child is ready for a new school, but they wanted to see what’s available.

The school fair served as a great reminder that Hawaii has such a diverse education landscape: from great public schools, to language immersion schools, parochial schools, top-rated private schools, and more. With so many options, one might ask why Hawaii doesn’t make it easier for families to choose a school to meet their child’s needs.

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