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Meetings to Explore Conversion of Pāʻia to 100% Immersion

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   September 20th, 2013 · 10 Disqus Comments · Featured, Maui News
Keiki were among those holding signs at a demonstration this morning that was organized in protest of the planned lottery for placement in the Hawaiian language immersion kindergarten at Pāʻia Elementary School on Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Keiki were among those holding signs at a demonstration in May that was organized in protest of a lottery for placement in the Hawaiian language immersion kindergarten at Pāʻia Elementary School on Maui. The lottery was subsequently cancelled. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Two Hawaiian immersion advocacy groups on Maui will host stakeholder meetings to discuss a plan for the proposed transition of Pāʻia Elementary School into an entirely Hawaiian speaking, immersion site.

The first meeting, hosted by Nā Leo Kākoʻo o Maui and Nā Leo Pūlama will take place this Saturday, Sept. 21, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Pāʻia School Cafeteria.

Meeting organizers say that as interest in Hawaiian immersion education continues to grow, “the need for an entirely immersion school has become apparent.”

The goal, they say, is for Pāʻia School to be the first in Maui County to deliver instruction across all disciplines exclusively in the Hawaiian language.

Hawaiian language immersion now represents nearly 70% of the school student population, at a campus that once enforced an English-only policy following a ban in 1896.

A second meeting is scheduled to take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Pā`ia Community Center.

The meetings come on the heels of demonstrations earlier this year when school administrators planned a lottery for placement in Pāʻia Elementary School’s Hawaiian Immersion kindergarten program.

The lottery was subsequently cancelled with opponents arguing that the lottery would have denied children the right to Hawaiian language immersion education and restrict the growth of language revitalization.

Supporters of conversion of the campus into an all-immersion site say the goal of immersion is language revitalization. “That’s best achieved in environments where students learn, eat and play in a second language,” a flyer announcing the upcoming meetings stated.

Meeting organizers note that additional classrooms have been added at the 1st and 2nd grade for the past 3 years to keep up with the growth in immersion; and the student-to-teacher ratio in 3rd and 4th grade immersion classes are larger than recommended due to a lack of space and teacher positions at the school.

The Hawaiian Language Immersion Program at Pāʻia School is non-exclusive, and accepts all children from Central Maui between Kindergarten and 5th grade, regardless of race, ethnicity, or cultural identity.

Meeting organizers say there is currently no plan in place and that the meetings are the beginning of developing a plan for advocacy.

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  • leibwss

    Teaching the Hawaiian language as a secondary language is fine but in a complete immersion program, it’s a fast track to failure. There is no worse way to deny kids a proper education needed in the technological 21st century that teaching them in a language that is unused in the real world. There are few good text books in the Hawaiian language to teach math, sciences and literature needed in the 21st century. The state has spent million of dollars translating text books into Hawaiian with poor results because there are no Hawaiian words for math and science terms.

    However, for the activist who promote immersion, that is the point,, to show the world that kids can speak in the Hawaiian language ……at the expense of the rest of their education. For these students, this amounts to educational child abuse. It is not about what is best for the children but what makes the activists feel good.
    A Big island immersion school, Nawahiokalaniopuu Iki, scored an abysmal 20 out of 400 with the greatest deficiencies in science, just what kids need for the 21 century. The school’s response, dumb down the tests. http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/20130826__Language_a_barrier_for_tests_at_Hawaiian_charter_school.html?id=221138401

    The activist promoting immersion have dreams of going backwards in time, so abysmal testing scores are Ok. To hell with the future.

    • Ku’u Home I Makawao

      leibwss – nicely worded.

      Since you mentioned education in the technological 21st century and the real world…

      Were you aware that WINDOWS 8 supports the Hawaiian language?

      WHAT!?!

      Yep. Apparently some tech nerd at Microsoft felt it was some kind of important… Microsoft worked with faculty from UH to make it happen.

      Check it out… http://keoladonaghy.com/blog/2012/11/08/windows-8-supports-hawaiian-language/

      Here’s a quote from a Microsoft VP for those that don’t follow the link:
      “Providing technology support in a native language is critical to helping people access the tools they need to create better economic opportunities,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education for Microsoft. “Language preservation and support also helps preserve cultural identities for the next generation of learners.”

      Pretty interesting, no? One CAN use ‘olelo Hawai’i in a 21st century technological application. WOW. That’s pretty “real world” action.

      You also mentioned test scores at Nawahi with a nice link, but did you even READ the article? Do you understand why the score was 20/400?

      From the article you linked:
      “the vast majority of parents opt not to have their children take them (the assessment tests), Kamana said, because they want a test that is developed in Hawaiian.” Now, last I checked, if you don’t take a test in school, thats an automatic 0, right? …. so what I would like to know is, how did the students who TOOK the test grade out? What the students did should be reported just as what the students didn’t.

      The department of Education needs to get on the ball…. there are 2 official languages of the state…. tests should be available in both languages. PERIOD.

      Going backwards in time would be to put ‘olelo Hawai’i on the wayside. Aren’t we supposed to learn from history what not to repeat in the present to better preserve our future?

      • Paia4life

        you know what I am part Hawaiian and have lived in Paia for 27 years and now my grandchildren will suffer because now they have to go to a school that is out of our district. I support the Hawaiian language but really how much students from Paia take immersion studies? My family and I feel that now days our Keiki need to learn in English just because if we want them to go to Harvard or Yale University they will be lost as they do not teach in Hawaiian.. So we feel that 70% of the Hawaiian immersion students come from out of district therefore maybe they should build a school in the central area for Hawaiian Immersion studies and we can keep our Paia keiki close to home just in case they dont feel good during school we will not have to drive to Haiku or Pukalani to pick them up.. Also Paia school is a DOE funded school and not a Hawaiian Immersion school.. Kamehmeha schools would be good for that??????

        • WoW

          You can’t afford YALE or HARVARD and lazy to get out and pick up your grandchild. 27 years of pono.

  • justwondering

    Public school, taxpayer money?

  • Two Cents

    Good for our people who put a priority on revitalizing the Hawaiian language!

    Leibwss, it is an unfortunate fact that almost ALL public schooling in Hawai`i is terrible. I think you would agree that public schooling should be our number one spending area. Forget solar panels, investment in education repays itself a million times over, reducing crime, poverty, and basically enhancing people’s ability to make decisions for themselves and support themselves. I doubt that hypothetically poor teaching at an immersion school could be any worse than any other public school on Maui. At least our students would learn a second language fluently — probably more than could be expected at any other high school.

    – With my apologies to our hard-working and underfunded public school teachers. We should pay and train you better, and support our schools more. I and I hope many other reasonable people would proudly have potholes in our streets, a junky harbor, and no park gazebos, if I knew we taking all that money to directly spend on our schools to make them the best in the nation. Wouldn’t it be great if we could brag about that? Maui having the nation’s best public schools?

  • Dakine

    I am 100% supportive to the Hawaiian cause and feel that while immersion would be a wonderful experience for the children of Hawaii, I have to agree with Leibwiss that if it would put them at a disadvantage against rest of world academia. I think that learning the Hawaiian language is important from a cultural standpoint and making it a mandatory language class would be better than full immersion.

  • Loveme

    People only see the future and not the past on what happen when we went school there and got punished for speaking the hawaiian language…… Majority is immersion dumdum….. Not enough kids den cost of leaving that school open is a lost. Not like they saying that your kid or kids has to someplace else. Is up to you we’re you want them to go.
    Paia4life your life was easier than mines. Be in my shoe back then………
    Finally something good is coming.

  • Williwilli

    The education sucks at all public schools in Hawaii. Just listen to these idiots speak and type on here. Clearly the english program isnt working either. They are going to be at a disadvantage anyways, so let them learn in Hawaiian. It wont really change their lot in life. The smart kids will excel no matter what. If the community wants full hawaiian immersion, then let them have it and they will have to live with the consequences. I know in other countries where english is a second language, english is the de facto language for all STEM programs.

    • 101

      Yup. A part of America where the inability to read, write, and speak English is proudly worn as a badge of honor. And then they wonder why they can’t get a job.