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Reinventing education – now and for the future

Posted on Jan 27, 2022 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
Virtual learning can expand student opportunities.

Virtual learning can expand student opportunities.

No community can be strong without taking care of their keikiour future. Empowering our schools and enriching Hawaiʻi’s community of lifelong learners have always been among our top priorities. That’s why I’ve asked legislators to restore funds taken away during the pandemic — for programs so important to our children’s learning and for upkeep of their classrooms. This includes funds to take care of those who teach our students and to support the development of new teachers, especially in areas with chronic shortages, such as Hawaiian immersion and special needs. Safely reopening schools was one of our top priorities, but that wasn’t possible during the early days of the shutdown. Our schools and teachers had to literally reinvent education—overnight. Virtual classrooms became a necessity, but we also learned that they could supplement in-person classes and provide opportunities that would not otherwise be available. That’s why we are supporting the expansion of the Hawai‘i Virtual Learning Network.

The community has joined forces for Kaʻū Dream.

We’ve long talked about distance learning—but more as an alternative to the traditional classroom. The pandemic made us realize that we could use virtual classrooms to ensure that every student has every opportunity to learn no matter where they live. Using the federal Governors’ Emergency Education Relief fund, we’re also empowering schools and teachers to innovate and create projects to recover learning lost due to the pandemic. We dedicated $5 million for UH to launch a Hawaii Online Portal for Education, which is developing curriculum for distance learning and for additional training for teachers. The projects include everything from STEM education to agriculture. One of these projects is Kaʻū Dream, a place-based, community-focused education initiative on Hawai‘i Island to align the curriculum to Kaʻū career and business opportunities.

And it’s time to retool our underutilized educational resources. For generations, our public libraries, like the one in Pearl City, have been quietly supporting our students and communities. We want to “reimagine” how we use Pthose facilities. We want Pearl City to be the role model for other libraries across the state—a place where groups can gather to meet and exchange ideas. We want them to house early learning centers, as well as gathering places for our kupuna. And we want to equip them with the latest technologies, where the community can learn, create and enrich their lives. “Reimagine,” if you will, Pearl City Library, becoming a beehive of activity as a community-based learning center. . . . And let’s work together to take the next step to provide preschools for every child in Hawai‘i.

Read more in the February Capitol Connection newsletter.

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