Aloha POSSE fights to preserve social studies credit

Letter to the Editor

The following is a message from the community group Aloha POSSE.

An alliance of concerned parents, students, educators, community members, organizations and individuals has been formed to insure that the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) votes on Tuesday, August 16 to preserve a fourth currently required Social Studies credit. The new alliance has been named Aloha POSSE (Preserve Our Social Studies Education).

To visit Aloha POSSE’s Facebook page, click here

Because the Hawaii Board of Education (BOE) is voting on Tuesday, August 16 on whether to eliminate yet another essential curriculum area as part of their new Policy 4540 High School Graduation Requirements (beginning with the class of 2016), the newly-formed alliance, Aloha POSSE will host a press conference on Thursday, July 21 at 10:30 a.m. in front of the Queen Liliuokalani Building at 1390 Miller St. With Hawaii’s schools starting on July 26, the alliance will be announcing their formation—and their current effort to rally community support.

Lyla Berg, a former Hawaii State Representative, founded Kids Voting Hawaii and is the State coordinator for Project Citizen with the Center For Civic Education, Washington, D.C.

Berg said: “We believe that the Social Sciences, which include economics, psychology, participation in democracy, geography, Hawaiian Studies, Pacific Island Studies, government, and many others, are all fundamental to a young person’s development as a career-ready, college-bound, civic-minded and responsible member of our democratic society, particularly at this time of globilization. Social Studies courses present vital content, learning experiences, and opportunities for young minds to discover and explore their personal connections to the world around them, as well as their civic and social responsibilities as Americans. One must only look at Hawaii’s low voter turnout to understand the great importance of this now-threatened curriculum. It’s imperative that we safeguard the basic civic mission of schools.”

In addition to Berg, the statewide effort includes Linda Coble, Board Chair of Kids Voting Hawaii; Robert Buss, Executive Director of the Hawaii Council for Humanities; Jeff Moniz and Patricia Halagao, faculty of the UH College of Education; Gail Tamaribuchi, former Director of the Center for Economic Education; and Ted Petit, Chair of the Civic Education Committee of the Hawaii State Bar Association, and many others. 

In the words Dr. Maya Seotoro-Ng, co-founder of Our Public School: “What we value most as a society is reflected in what we mandate. Through social studies, students solve problems and connect school with society. It does not make sense for us to pare down on social studies requirements in our DOE schools when our private schools are recognizing the value of more social studies through courses that focus on spiritual and ethical development, as well as individual and community responsibility.”

As long-time civics and education advocate Linda Coble observed: “Hawaii’s Act 51, The Reinventing Education Act of 2004, states: ‘although many responsibilities are laid upon education, ultimately education must do no less than advance the endowment of human culture itself, so that each succeeding generation finds itself further along the road towards peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability in a society guided by creativity, compassion, and curiosity.’ Our alliance believes this commitment to Hawaii’s K-12 Social Studies curriculum to be more important and relevant today than ever before.”