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At the Capitol last month, Governor Ige declared the week of January 24-30 as School Choice Week.

Maria Pauley, Principal of Lanakila Baptist School joined Joe Kent on The Grassroot Institute with Dr. Keli’i Akina, a radio show on KAOI 1110AM 96.7FM Maui, to discuss School Choice in Hawaii.

Ms. Pauley described school choice as a spotlight on education that emphasizes the importance of educational options since “one size fits all” does not apply to schools in Hawaii.  With 151 private schools on the island, servicing 42,000 students, it’s important to have choices. In Hawaii, the only choice that is not yet supported by the government is private school choice.

Ms. Pauley said that having more educational options allows families and students to have access to the whole market of schools in Hawaii. They’re able to find a schools that best fit their needs.

Making matters worse, Hawaii does not have open enrollment. This means that students must receive a geographical exception in order to attend a public school that is not in their district.

Ms. Pauley states that students with no geographical exception must attend the school they’re zoned, with no regard to the quality of the school.

Currently, parents and families are paying for the public schools in their district even if their keiki go to private schools. We need something to alleviate this cost for these families.

Ms. Pauley acknowledges that Hawaii does have some school choice but there’s another option that we have yet to explore, private school choice. Students who attend private schools tend to receive better education because of the way their programs are structured.

Since Hawaii is a one district state, if there was a change in the voucher system where money could go to private schools instead of the public schools that these students aren’t attending, it would only have to happen once to work. If this change were made, it would be a huge step towards allowing school choice throughout our entire state.

To learn more about School Choice, please visit schoolchoiceweek.com.