Categorized | Education

Hirono committed to investing in education reform

Rep. Mazie Hirono has issued the following statement:

Aloha,

Last Friday was the first of 17 teacher furlough days Hawaii’s public schools will face through the end of the regular school year.

In a letter to the editor (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Oct. 6), I shared our community’s concern over the negative impact these furlough days have on families, teachers, and, most importantly, our students.

I had the opportunity to discuss these concerns with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan last week.  Secretary Duncan was not only aware of the furloughs, he was very concerned about what the loss of class time would mean for our students.

In response to our discussion, the Secretary submitted an editorial piece to the Honolulu Advertiser this past Friday.  He offered to submit an Op-Ed expressing his concerns, not to tell Hawaii what to do, but to share his perspective.  The Secretary is committed to our students and to educational reform that enhances student success, and I will continue to work with him to support those efforts in Hawaii.

In his editorial, the Secretary recognizes Hawaii has been making progress on student achievement, but goes on to say, “All states are under financial pressure, but none are cutting this much learning time from their school year. This is a step in the wrong direction.”

Secretary Duncan then called upon everyone with a stake in education to work together with the goal of making the best decisions and smartest investments in the education of Hawaii’s children.

As a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, I continue to champion programs that put our teachers and students in a position to succeed.  This past January, President Obama and Congress worked together to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

This law includes $100 billion for education, of which $157 million has been awarded to Hawaii.  Additionally, the Recovery Act includes $5 billion in competitive grants that will be awarded to states that show a commitment to education reform.

To strengthen Hawaii’s chance to compete successfully for these grants, we need to push ahead with initiatives and programs that show Hawaii’s support and commitment to educational reform that improves outcomes for students. Continuing efforts to minimize the adverse impact of the furlough days will be important in the process.

My statement on the floor of the house this week was on the importance of investing in America’s schools. I noted the excitement we’re seeing among states, including Hawaii, as they put their best education reform foot forward to compete for federal funds.

We need to focus more, not less, on strengthening education in our country.

Mahalo,

Mazie Hirono

Member of Congress

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