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Consolidation: An Attempt to Save Money, or An Effort to Reduce Student Learning

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Consolidation: An Attempt to Save Money, or an Effort to Reduce Student Learning

The proposals by the state to consolidate several public schools on O'ahu has created no

small amount of concern by parents, students, and teachers. This is probably due to the recent attempts by the state to close small public elementary schools like Pu'uhale and Likelike Elementary. Despite the state's numerous attempts to cut short the number of school days in a week (furlough days), the state legislation has finally decided to cut short the number of schools on the island (consolidation). Their goal - which is really a short term goal - is one that involves the reduction of spending, which will save the state approximately one million dollars a year. While this may seem reasonable and understandable, the viewpoint that the state has totally dismissed is the viewpoint of enhancing these small schools and providing incentives for those schools that perform well in their test scores and achieve exemplary academic growth. There are multiple reasons for why the state should not consolidate these small schools, and the four arenas this proposal will examine to support it consists of a political reason, an economic reason, a social reason, and a cultural reason. And in examining these reasons in light of the argument to not consolidate public schools in Hawaii, people - especially parents - will be able to defend these small schools and provide solid evidence for why their child's school should not be shut down. It is easy for one to promote consolidation without doing research on school performance and academic achievement. Thus, this research proposal will examine this situation of


consolidation by providing reasonable and sound reasons for why Hawaii's public schools - specifically those schools that currently face consolidation - should be funded, not stunted.

The first argument that this proposal will expound upon is the political reason for not consolidating Hawaii's public schools. This reason deals primarily with the State's involvement in the Department of Education, and has its reasoning and logical foundation in the recent actions by the State, primarily the recent furloughs that have been established and the recent cuts of teachers from doing their jobs. Basing this reason on these past events, this will provide a historical backside to what the State is doing and what should be done by the State to regain a good reputation in the community, particularly in its involvement with students and education.

Rather than taking money away from the Department of Education - as publicly shown by the recent enforcement of furlough days - actually doing the reverse will be a huge advantage and benefit not only for the students and teachers, but also for the State itself. This is because funding Hawaii's smaller public schools like Likelike Elementary will be a clear sign of the State's active investment in student education and academic growth. In this sense, this will be an open and public display for the community to see that the State actually cares for the children, so much so that the State is willing to grant incentives and provide state-funded programs geared towards education. This action on the State's part is a win-win situation for everyone, including students, parents, teachers, the DOE, and the State. Teachers will be able to do their jobs, parents will be more encouraged to get their children in school activities provided by the State, and students will be given more opportunities to be involved in educational programs. Furthermore, in view of the State's action to fund these schools, the State will definitely be held in a positive light. The State will regain its reputation for caring for students, and other independent and non-


profit organizations may get involved in school funding as a result of seeing the State's involvement. Thus, funding these schools rather than consolidating them will be a huge political benefit for the State as well as everyone else.

The second argument that this proposal will elaborate upon is the economic reason for not consolidating Hawaii's public schools. This reason will deal primarily with the positive consequences that will impact Hawaii's economy and financial situation if the State provides additional funding to the public schools. Knowing that the State is already burdened by a tight budget, this economic reason for why public schools like Likelike should not be consolidated will send a clear and simple message to those who support consolidation and will give these people a long-term vision and purpose for helping students. This reason is perhaps the simplest reason, as it emphasizes the obvious consequences for supporting the public schools.

The recent actions by the State to pull money from the Department of Education (furloughs and teacher layoffs) and save is a clear example of the State's goals in terms of handling the economy. By closing several of Hawaii's public schools - schools like Pu'uhale and Likelike - the State argues that it will save at least one million dollars in spending. Needless to say, what concerned parents need to understand is that the State is not as concerned about students as they are about saving their money. This demonstrates the short-term outlook that the State holds - a quick-and-easy solution to solving the current economic crisis. On the other hand, if the State were to use its funds to support student education rather than use it to fund other miniscule and unimportant projects/areas, then this will ultimately give students the ability and the opportunities they need in order to succeed in life. Students will be able to get jobs and create jobs with the aid of their education, and the State may even be comprised of some of these


students who were impacted by the decisions of the past leaders and legislators. Hence, it is appropriate to declare that investing in students' education is unlike the short-term goal of today's State officials. Supporting students and their education is a long-term goal. It is one that will stimulate job creation and ultimately better Hawaii's economy in the future. According to a 2000 study entitled Small Schools: Great strides - A study of new small schools in Chicago, "students in small high schools in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods attended up to five more days per semester and dropped out at a third to half the rate of students in larger schools. The same students had slightly higher grade-point averages and improved their reading scores by the equivalent of almost half a year" (Wasley, P.A., Fine, M., Gladden, M., Holland,



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