Getting input on education

LIHUE — This week’s meetings on education reform are important.

“This is our chance to be heard,” said Marion Paul, president of the Kauai Planning and Action Alliance.

The meetings are part of Gov. David Ige’s Town Hall Meeting on Education initiative, which is a response to President Barack Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act.

ESSA, which was signed into law in December 2015, returns authority over the public school system to each state.

While there are still some federal requirements, the new law was passed to empower states and schools to have more flexibility and ability to decide on how best to educate students, said Darrel Galera, chairperson of the ESSA Team.

In April, Ige formed a 17-member ESSA Team to create a “blueprint to transform public education in Hawaii,” Galera said.

To get community feedback for the blueprint, members of the ESSA team will be hosting meetings across the state. The governor himself will not be in attendance.

There will be two meetings on Kauai: One today at Waimea High School, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The second will be held on Wednesday at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

“It’s a great opportunity for the community to have an input on the education system,” said Mahina Anguay, principal of Waimea High School.

KPAA is encouraging people to attend.

“I also hope that everyone brings bold ideas and is comfortable sharing them,” Paul said. “We owe our students a 21st century education to prepare them for life after school. And we can do it in a way that we don’t lose our culture and special sense of place along the way.”

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