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Education in Hawai‘i

September 22, 2011
Rep. George Fontaine (R HD-11), Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena

As a member of the Education Committee, I heard presenters discussing the issue of career preparation for the 21st century student. Specifically, we discussed how our education systems are preparing students for higher education and success strategies in real-world jobs. The bottom line is that hundreds of thousands of high school students across the country are graduating unprepared for the rigors of college.

Not enough of Hawai‘i’s graduates are prepared for success after high school. For those who go to college, there is poor persistence and a great need for remediation. Many going on to pursue work or a trade immediately after high school are denied military enlistment because they cannot pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.

Unfortunately, Hawai‘i ranks No. 1 in recent graduates who were denied military enlistment based on academic readiness. In addition, many Hawai‘i high school graduates are not meeting entry-level requirements for various apprenticeship programs. Employers are telling educators that high school graduates are lacking essential entry-level skill sets.

A number of interesting ideas were shared in response to the current challenges of preparing our graduates for future career success. One presenter from the Aurora Public Schools in Aurora, Colorado, discussed how students could explore careers and fields of study through academic and career pathways. Pathways guide students in identifying career options and help them select relevant courses of study based on their own interests and motivations. For more information, go to

Closer collaboration between higher education institutions and public high schools is another way to increase student success. In Hawai‘i, Dr. Karen Lee is leading the way with Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education. Hawai‘i P-20 is a statewide partnership led by the Early Learning Council, Department of Education and the University of Hawai‘i. The partnership is working to strengthen the education “pipeline” from early childhood through higher education so that all students achieve career and college success.

The goal of P-20 is that 55 percent of working age adults in Hawai‘i will complete a two- or four-year college degree by 2025.

I encourage all of you to learn more about the Hawai‘i P-20 partnership. I will feature the Hawai‘i P-20 partnership on an upcoming episode of the “Fontaine Factor” (Akakü: Maui Community Television, channel 53, Wednesdays, at 8 p.m.). For more information visit

If you need to contact me with any issues or concerns regarding South Maui, please call my office at (808) 586-8525 or email



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