HE’E Policy/Social Justice Committee Meeting
October 17, 2012
The Learning Coalition Office, 841 Bishop St. Suite 301
Attendees: Zach Dilonno (Appleseed/PPS), Jenny Lee (Appleseed), Victor Geminani (Appleseed), Karen Ginoza (FACE), Mary Weir (FACE), Clif Tanabe (UH College of Education), Christina Simmons (PACT), Kay Fukuda (UH/Waianae Place-Based Alliance), Kimberly Kepner-Sybounmy, Jacce Mikulanec (GBA), Deborah Zysman (GBA), Calvin Endo (Hawaii State PTSA) Erin Conner (Senator Tokuda’s Office), Matt Lorin (TLC) , Kathy Bryant (HE‘E), Cheri Nakamura (HE‘E), Lauren Baer (TLC)
9:00-9:10 Welcome and introductions. The purpose of this meeting is for the policy team and social justice workgroup members to give an update on their work and decide on policy recommendations to make to the full coalition.
9:10-9:25: Kathy Bryant–introduction of California Family School Partnership Act
Kathy described the California Act and explained it might be timely given the work HE‘E and the SCR79 policy group are accomplishing with the HIDOE and BOE on family-school partnerships. The law allows parents to take off work to attend school events, up to 40 hours a year.
Kimberly Kepner-Sybounmy thought that 40 hours a year would be a lot for employers. Cheri Nakamura mentioned that the policy makers could put the California law into a Hawaii bill template, and we could adjust the details. Victor Geminiani asked if there would be any downside. Kathy felt that generally there wouldn’t be a downside among families and schools but there may be opposition from businesses. Zach Dilonno asked who is meant to be the target population. Kathy thought that the least engaged parent group—low income or immigrant group—would likely be the target population. Zach thought that engaging the business community might be a good idea first before going ahead with action. This way they would not caught off guard if legislation is suddenly introduced. The group thought this was a good idea. A follow up could be done with the Chamber of Commerce—they have an education branch within the Chamber. Christina Simmons commented that even if a law is passed, proper communication channels to families is essential. Victor also mentioned that Hawaii already has a “Family Leave Act,” whereby employers are required to allow time off for family health emergencies. Karen Ginoza said that it would also be worthwhile to get principals’ and teachers’ perspective on the law. Zach added that it would be a good idea to list all the parent/family meetings/events that a school might have which would require parent participation, i.e., parent/teacher conferences, co-curricular events, etc. Kathy asked Erin Conner from Senator Tokuda’s office by when a template would need to be submitted for the upcoming session. Erin said if they drafted it by mid-December, they would be in good shape, but the earlier the better.
9:25-9:40: Discussion on early learning
Jacce Mikulanec gave a Good Beginning Alliance (GBA) perspective on the early learning situation—everyone is waiting for details from the Governor’s plan. GBA’s understanding is that the Governor’s plan will cover the lowest income children first. It will all depend on how much money is going to be appropriated. It appears that subsidies will go to pre-school providers, which will make it a public-private partnership. The state is doing a survey now, asking pre-schools what there capacity is, though it is only asking for current capacity—not additional capacity. Christina mentioned that there are home visit programs for rural areas that might qualify as vendors. The target is for half of the 5100 late born four-year olds, so around 2700 children. There has not been much information to the public at this point on the upcoming ending of junior kindergarten or the prospective plan.
Kathy reminded everyone that HE‘E supported SB2545 on early learning, and that HE‘E was one of the only advocacy groups against getting rid of junior kindergarten. The law says nothing about extending junior kindergarten if the transition plan is not complete. As far as the Governor’s plan, we could either agree if we felt it was sufficient or disagree if we did not think it went far enough. Matt Lorin asked if it was necessary to wait for the Governor’s plan to be released. Kathy asked if GBA could draft a position statement so we could circulate to members. GBA agreed and will send a draft to HE‘E.
9:40-9:55: Discussion on instructional time
Kathy gave some background on the instructional hour issue. Senator Tokuda mentioned that they might take a look at the legislation again. Last year, the legislation focused on having a number of set bell schedules to help get the secondary schools in compliance with the law. One of the obstacles of changing the bell schedule is a school must get a 2/3 majority vote from teachers to change the bell schedule—this is according to collective bargaining. The HSTA was against the bill last year, which is one reason why the bill died.
Kathy suggested that HE‘E ask Senator Tokuda/Representative Takumi for an update on where schools are on compliance of the law. It would be the secondary schools, since all of the elementary schools are in compliance. Then we could assess if we wanted to reintroduce the bill or support a subsequent bill to last year’s bill. Kimberly asked to be kept posted on this issue.
9:55-10:25: Zach Dilonno–Importance of school safety and discussion on safe schools
Zach Dilonno proposed a potential partnership with HE‘E and Appleseed looking at school safety. Already, Appleseed is working on a number of projects concerning the HIDOE on school discipline, English language learners and school breakfast. They have asked HIDOE to provide data on disciplinary incidents tied to ethnicity. Meanwhile, it was learned that the HIDOE is under a compliance review by the USDOE Office of Civil Rights. One of the recommendations made by the USDOE is for HIDOE to partner with community groups to understand what is the root cause of bullying and how to address the issue—sharing best practices, identifying preventative measures, etc. Zach felt that HE‘E would be a great community group to participate because of its broad reach the community and because of HE‘E’s charge, which is to engage families. Appleseed is already pursuing its own project on school discipline but for this initiative, they could engage as a partner with HE‘E, contributing research and data.
The next step would be meeting with the DOE to understand their processes around safe schools.
Kay Fukuda who works on the Waianae Coast said that there are a number of native Hawaiian groups that are working with troubled kids to help them find their identity, culturally and spiritually. She offered to make introductions to these groups. Other members talked about identifying schools that are doing a good job with school safety and sharing best practices. Christina talked about an example of security in the hallways that helped improved the environment of a particular urban school. The group also agreed that families could be involved. Clif Tanabe challenged the group-even if a partnership developed and we came up with some strategies, then what? Zach responded with we could at least start with the implementation of these strategies. Karen Ginoza feels that students need to be involved—we should work with the State Student Council. Kathy mentioned that the BOE is also focused on safe schools—the topic came up at the Student Achievement Committee (SAC) meeting as they were reviewing indicators in the Strategic Plan. She also invited members to attend the SAC meeting, which is every 3rd Tuesday.
Kathy asked which organizations/people would be interested in meeting with DOE. Victor, Karen, Kay, Clif, and Zach indicated they were interested.
10:25-10:40: Discussion on any other policy topic
Kathy Bryant introduced a topic that was brought up at the SAC meeting on Tuesday—school attendance. There is a statute, which penalizes parents if they do not get their child to school on a regular basis, or not following the Department’s compulsory attendance policy. However, it appears that often, courts deny schools when they try to file a petition against a parent. Also, it appears that the petition cannot be filed until the end of the school year. Kathy thought it might be a good idea to look in to why petitions were being denied—maybe there is a way to unblock the obstacles. The group agreed that we should investigate a bit more. It was also a good opportunity to look at alternative strategies to prevent absenteeism. Matt mentioned the Collective Impact group as a resource.
10:40-10:55: Cheri Nakamura–update on Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 79 on Family Engagement
Cheri gave a short summary of HE‘E’s participation in the SCR79 workgroup. The workgroup is made up of organizations that came together to work on tasks outlined in the first family engagement resolution, SCR145, and the subsequent resolution, SCR79. She shared that the group has completely revised one of the BOE’s policy on parent involvement, and also is working on recommendations on targets and measures in the DOE’s strategic plan where family-school partnerships are concerned.