Standards In Public Schools

Larry Price
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Wednesday - July 27, 2011
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Before 1924, comparatively speaking, the record shows that few Caucasian children attended public schools in Hawaii.

Many parents felt that better English speech training as well as a more desirable social standard could be found only at a private school and often made financial sacrifices to send their children there.

Parents began demanding that a standardized English-speaking high school be added to the already existing English standard Lincoln elementary.

When the bill for the establishment of this school was before the Legislature, many parents showed up day after day to support its passage.

Despite controversy over the discriminatory aspects of the bill, it was passed, and in 1930 President Theodore Roosevelt High School was established.


After World War I I, people began speaking out against the principle of English standard schools. They argued that there are students from a multitude of backgrounds, since the real world is not filled with people with people who speak only grammatical English.

This sentiment grew until the 1945 Legislature passed Act 126. It directed the Department of Public Instruction “to maintain the standards of English standard schools already in existence and to establish, as rapidly as possible, standard sections in all public schools.”

The idea aroused a good deal of opposition.

The 1949 Legislature then passed Act 227. It directed the department “to raise all public schools to the level of the English standard schools and to provide for the transition from the dual to the single standard system started in September 1949 and continue adjustments annually until all schools of the Territory of Hawaii have been raised to the level of a single standard system.”

The politicians kept fiddling with the questions of English standard education until 1960, when Roosevelt High School lost its distinction of being the only English standard public high school in Hawaii.


The focus has shifted from English standard schools to early childhood education. Hawaii is now seeking up to $50 million in federal funding for early childhood education.

The governor has notified the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services that Hawaii will participate in a program called “Race to the Top.”

The program is a competition meant to support the states’ efforts to increase the number of low-income children enrolled in early learning programs, design an integrated system of programs and address demands of high-need children.

Meanwhile, parents are still making financial sacrifices to send their children to private schools for pretty much the same reasons they did in 1924, but now it’s not just Caucasians.

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