There is a proposal to close one of two schools in my area. As a Koko Head mom, I’m weighing in on the issue.
I married into a family whose five children attended Koko Head, Niu, Kalani and Kaiser. Four of those children now have advance degrees and are employed by Brown University as a science professor, the University of Iowa as a German professor, Kaiser Permanente as a doctor, and the City and County of Honolulu as an attorney. My husband, who attended the University of Hawaii, has a journalism degree and is now working for the newly organized Honolulu Star-Advertiser. My father-in-law is a University of Hawaii professor emeritus, a former member of the school’s Board of Regents and a true believer in public education.
His grandchildren are now enrolled at Niu Valley and Koko Head. My child who is at Niu is in the orchestra, plays piano, came in second place in the Hawaii State Science Fair last year, and just completed her second robotics competition. My daughter at Koko Head is as advanced in the arts as her sister is in academics. Both daughters have thrived in these schools and I am confident they are getting an education that rivals any of Hawaii’s top private schools.
I want to see Koko Head remain open because of several reasons: It is a Blue Ribbon school, its test results are the top in the state, it has a diverse student body, it has a community of dedicated parents, teachers and administration, and it has a proven formula for success.
Why, in a state more known for its mediocre attention to the education of its children, would the Board of Education and the Department of Education want to shut down a school that is extremely successful in its mission to educate Hawaii’s keiki? When a school is succeeding, why shut it down? The message the state sends our neighborhood is that Koko Head’s stellar test scores, our Blue Ribbon status, and our successful and nurturing operation is not worth sustaining. If it is not worth it, is it worthless?
Shutting down Koko Head School and sending the children and staff to other institutions tells the nation that its federal Blue Ribbon status means little to Hawaii’s policy makers.
We parents at Koko Head School would welcome Geographic Exception students with open hearts because the institution is worth preserving and expanding. Why doesn’t the state market its amazingly successful public schools to build up their enrollments instead of dismantling that which works? What is the logic behind shuttering a school recognized on the federal and state levels while pouring money into pits that fail to improve year after year? Shut down schools that do not work, bring more children to Koko Head so they, too, may succeed.