House Resolution (HR) 16 urges Hawaiʻi’s private schools to offer or continue to offer Hawaiian language instruction as an option or elective in their academic curriculum. The language in HR16 explains the importance, advantages and logic of learning ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, and copies were sent to all private schools in Hawaiʻi, most of which fail to offer Hawaiian language instruction or curriculum despite many free resources and learning aids readily available.
The seed for encouraging private schools to teach Hawaiian was planted by Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi Political Action Committee (KPAC) member Rebekah Luke who bemoaned the fact that the private school her grandchildren attended did not teach ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. In conjunction with the discussion over this obvious gap in cultural education in the Hawaiian archipelago, KPAC decided that its focus for the 2017 state legislative session would be education.
KPAC helped to draft a resolution and, with the help of community advocate Kiana Marshall, persuaded both Sen. Maile Shimabukuro of the Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee, and Rep. Takashi Ono of the House Education Committee to introduce companion versions (SCR49, SR13 and HCR37, HR16 respectively).
“HR16 had the support of the Hawai’i Association of Independent Schools who provided testimony in support of the measure, along with hundreds of community members. Although, the Senate Hawaiian Affairs committee refused to pass the Senate companion measure, KPAC appreciates Sen. Maile Shimabukuro efforts for introducing the resolution and scheduling a hearing. Thankfully, the companion resolution (HR16) passed the House Joint Committee on Education and Higher Education and the House floor unanimously,” according to a statement released by the organization.
“It seems that a critical mass has been reached among the people of Hawaiʻi that Hawaiian is a good thing,” said Luke in response to the resolution’s adoption. “KPAC is thankful and amazed that a cry for Hawaiian language survived.”
“HR16 is a first step in raising the status of the native language of the Hawaiian archipelago, in providing job opportunities for a growing number graduates with college degrees in Hawaiian and, most importantly, will raise the overall well-being of the Kanaka Maoli people,” said KPAC member Emma Oto-pale.