5 Oct

I was in Los Angeles recently and had the chance to see a documentary film interestingly called, “Waiting for Superman,” directed by Oscar winner Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth”). It’s a film about the state of education in US public schools. The movie alludes to us waiting for Superman to save the day (our education system) when we all know he doesn’t exist. We end up shirking the responsibility when in reality WE are the ones who need to save our education system.

It is not news that we need education reform. Our kids in Hawaii score in the bottom half of national proficiency tests. And what’s worse is that the whole country ranks 23rd out of 25 developed countries for proficiency test results. That’s not very good at all.

As Governor Linda Lingle said in her 2010 State of the State address, “The time has come for high school diplomas to mean that a student has the skills to be career or college ready rather than being a piece of paper signifying they sat in class a set number of years.”

President Barack Obama gave an even more pointed remark: “Education is now the currency of the Information Age. It’s no longer just a pathway to opportunity and success; it’s a pre-requisite. There simply aren’t as many jobs today that can support a family where only a high school degree is required.” (President Barack Obama, Address to Mapleton Expeditionary, School of the Arts, May 2009)

We in Hawaii have to start thinking that the D.O.E. (Department of Education) is us! Every one of us, from private or public schools, has to be involved if we want the D.O.E and the quality of public education to improve. It’s for our children. It’s for our future. It’s for the leadership of tomorrow.

We need to be involved in our respective communities. First Prez has taken steps toward this. We give to food banks and ministries to the homeless on the windward side. We give to the Minami Foundation, which provides playground equipment, computers, security, scholarships to Windward Community College and assistance to Castle High School.

More hands-on is the Teachers’ Wishlist Program we have with the Kaneohe Elementary School where the teachers list their classroom needs and wishes while our congregation makes them come true by donating the items. And boy, was our church generous!

Impact Ministries Director Kirk Leavy, Children’s Ministry Director Karen Makishima, Parish Associate Jay Jarman, Assistant Gary Toh and I delivered hundreds of pounds of school supplies. See the photo gallery below. It was First Prez’s way of telling the teachers and the students that we care about them, especially during these tough economic times.

On the side, I am part of what is known as the JEDI Council (Joint Education Development Initiative), which meets regularly with new DOE Superintendent Kathy Matayoshi, community and business leaders to brainstorm on how to better help our students.

We were thrilled when our state won a $75-million grant from the government for Hawaii students. We were one of 9 states that got funding for needed school reform. Praise God for the hard work and expertise of First Prezer Terry George who did the “heavy lifting” of writing the application for the grant.

Let’s pray for our new D.O.E. superintendent. Pray for the JEDI Council. And let’s praise God for First Prez’s involvement in the windward side.

For Hawaii the D.O.E. is us!


One Response to “THE D.O.E. IS US!”

  1. Katherine Poythress October 6, 2010 at 8:43 am #

    Dan, I didn’t know about the Teachers Wishlist Program! That is awesome, and a fabulous model that I hope other organizations will follow. Also, I finally know what the JEDI Council is 😉 I’m so thrilled to learn about how involved First Prez is in serving our community.

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