As parents of current Hālau Kū Māna (HKM) students, we will be attending the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board meeting this Thursday, September 21, 2017 to express our support of Hawaiian Focus Charter Schools (HFCS) and our concerns with the Council [for] Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) receiving a $1.5 million dollar Office of Hawaiian Affairs grant on our school’s behalf and on behalf of the 16 other HFCS schools. These monies are vital to the success and survival of HFCS schools, all of which are community-based schools that use culturally responsive curriculum. Many of us have been a part of the HKM community and/or involved with other Hawaiian educational organizations for many years.
While we understand that CNHA won the competitive bid process, this organization did not consult with our po’o kumu or with the Hawaiian charter school leaders, as a collective, before applying to take this kuleana. In years past, this grant has been awarded to Kanu o ka ʻĀina Learning ʻOhana (KALO) whose mission is to serve and perpetuate “sustainable Hawaiian communities through Education with Aloha.” KALO has supported our schools since the very beginning, respecting each school’s autonomy while providing services and organizing events that have brought us together. Programs KALO has spearheaded and provided include the Hālau Wānana teacher certification program, Ke Ea Hawaiʻi interscholastic student council, an MEdT program for rising school leaders, and the Ku’i ka Lono conference for haumāna, kumu, po’o and our communities. In contrast, CNHA leaders did not even seek basic consent from our schools to receive these monies on our behalf. In the words of HKM’s principal, Brandon Bunag, “As an organization, CNHA has been absent from ongoing discussions and advocacy and out of touch on our priorities as a collective.”
We are deeply concerned about the way that CNHA has approached this relationship, and we feel that our school is being forced into a relationship with an organization that is not aligned with our values as a learning community. The HKM ‘Aha Mākua met on Thursday, September 14, 2017 and voted unanimously to oppose CNHA administering OHA funding for Hawaiian charter schools. As of this morning, over 160 letters from parents from 13 Hawaiian Charter Schools [have been] submitted in opposition to CNHA administering the OHA HFCS grant and an additional 60 parent letters were sent to CNHA asking them not to accept the grant.
We are also asking OHA to revise the request for proposals in the future to limit to or prioritize nonprofit organizations that make Hawaiian education central to their mission and operations, or to grant the monies directly to the schools themselves or the schools’ supporting nonprofits.