As we move into 2020 and the official start of the legislative session, we are excited to announce our 2020 policy goals. We have been working hard with partners and policymakers to set targets around key issues in our education system. We can’t do this work with out you. After reading our policy goals please let us know which goal you’d like to help out with.
1. Ensure free FAFSA completion assistance for all Hawaii graduating seniors. We think an initiative around FAFSA would enable Hawaii to reach its ambitious completion goal and help students access the more than $10 million in federal financial aid annually left on the table by eligible Hawaii students. Learning there are available resources has the power to show all Hawaii students that higher education is attainable and affordable to them. We have worked with Rep. Justin Woodson and Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz to introduce legislation to bring this initiative together: HB 2088 in the House and SB 2296 in the Senate.
2. Incentivize schools to focus industry certification programs on high-demand, high-earning careers. Industry-recognized credentials are especially important because they convey a student’s career readiness in a given occupation or industry. We have introduced legislation to give incentive funding to schools if they help students achieve industry-recognized credentials in high value industries, preparing our students for the jobs of both today and tomorrow: HB 2508 in the House and SB 3013 in the Senate.
3. Incentivize schools to adopt a trauma-informed approach to student learning and support. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – which include factors such as abuse, neglect and other traumatic experiences – have a potentially long-lasting effect on children’s cognitive functioning and physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. We are serving as an active member of the advisory committee for the HIDOE’s Ho’o ikaika: Trauma Recovery Project, a 5 year demonstration grant to increase the number of students receiving trauma-specific mental health services from the provider that best meets their needs. We are also supporting complementary efforts at the legislature to promote trauma-informed approaches: HB 2412, HB 1986, and a resolution to come later this session.
4. Improve access to innovative educational options. A lot of exciting innovation is happening in places where children are receiving a more individualized approach to their education. We are building stronger networks with families and students participating in homeschool, unschool, and unbundled education opportunities, and we want to support them and other local families benefit from their success. That means hosting events like the Hawaii Education Innovation Showcase to strengthen community networks. We will also support legislation to increase transparency and access to the Hawaii DOE’s geographic exceptions (GE) process via a resolution to come later this session.
5. Grow the pipeline of quality school leaders and identify an alternative route to certification for school leaders. We are working with the HIDOE and coalition partners to grow the pipeline of diverse and visionary school leaders and identify an alternative route to certification for school leaders that increases access to talent. Having a quality principal is one of the strongest determinants of student achievement and school innovation, so we want to help create the conditions to enable more talented educators to become school leaders.
6. Launch a statewide campaign to close the achievement gap by 2030. In their 2017-2020 Strategic Plan, the HIDOE and Board of Education (BOE) promised to decrease the achievement gap – the academic performance gap between high-need students (Economically Disadvantaged, special needs, and English Learners) and non-high-need students – from 33 to 25 points in English Language Arts and 29 to 22 points in math. Distressingly, the achievement gap has shown little movement – 1 point decrease for both math and English – over the last three years, and more urgency is needed to make progress as the HIDOE and BOE pivot to a new 2020-2030 strategic plan. We want to ensure they hear from students, parents, educators, and local community and business leaders about how critical this is, and that the Hawaii community demands progress for the sake of our children and our future.