Parents should put kids ahead of chasing money
MY HEART goes out to the kids, teachers and public school system in Hawaii. I was born and raised in Honolulu, and I am the product of the public school system. I've watched the trends going on in Hawaii from a distance, and with parenting, career-seeking and the Hawaii economy, it's no wonder the schools are not doing well.
Every time I visit my family in Hawaii, I notice that parents are becoming less involved with their kids and focusing more on making ends meet and trying to keep up with the Joneses. It's one thing to strive to provide a good living for your family with two incomes, but it's another to focus on wearing the latest fashions, driving SUVs that most Honolulu residents won't even use for their intended purposes (and eat up all of their money filling up) and living in mainland-looking homes.
I do know there are good parents out there who invest almost all they have (time, money and energy) into their children. I'm not focusing on these parents. My hat goes off to them for making it work in such a difficult economy where the pay isn't as competitive in many sectors of the economy as on the mainland.
However, kids need parents who will give them time to help with their studies and who will support them in becoming intelligent, creative, productive citizens. Parents, if you don't have goals, neither will your children.
Another thing that has shaped the community's schools where I live is support from people who don't have kids or whose children are grown. They volunteer, approve levies and participate in community activities that support the promotion of kids. Children need to be encouraged to participate in sports, extracurricular academics and cultural activities to help them stay out of malls and other useless activities that tempt them to steal or get involved with losers.
I moved away from my home because I saw the time was nearing when I, a stay-at-home mother, would have to go into the work force to make ends meet. Reluctantly, my husband and I moved our family of five to Washington state. I found that similar trends of parenting existed here, too, but I also found many parents who were committed to getting involved with their schools to be a partner and influence in academics and school policies.
I would love to move back to Honolulu, but I don't see how the school system will provide what's needed to keep my kids engaged academically with so much trouble with drugs, kids cutting out to go to the beach and so on.
I hope the Department of Education, parents and others in the community will focus on positive, productive ways to improve schools and the lives of Hawaii's kids.
Kalena Chang is an executive assistant for a utility partnership in Olympia, Wash., and a former Hawaii resident.