White House budget proposes cutting $33 million for educating Na - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

White House budget proposes cutting $33 million for educating Native Hawaiians

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

About a fourth of the 180,000 students in Hawaii's public schools are of Hawaiian descent.  

Tens of thousands of them benefit from Native Hawaiian education programs that use culturally based learning techniques.

The programs are funded with federal dollars.

"We do have a lot of students who need the extra services that they're getting in these programs that are getting cut," teacher Amber Riel said.

Documents obtained by the Washington Post show President Trump's 2018 budget erases $33 million Hawaii receives annually for Native Hawaiian programs.

Laverne Moore teaches math to Native Hawaiian eighth-graders to help their transition to high school. She works mostly with special needs students.

"They would not get the extra help by using their culture to identify the math skills that is needed to be successful in algebra."

The funding also supports Native Hawaiian programs that educate parents so they can help their own kids become better learners.

"So if these programs are cut the parents don't even get educated in how to support their kids," said teacher Dawn Raymond, who's also the president of HSTA's Hilo Chapter.

In Waianae, a program works with students who want to become teachers, while another helps Native Hawaiian students who live in homeless encampments on the Leeward coast.  

Raymond works with homeless students on the Big Island.

"Without the funding it's not going to be able to support the students, the Native Hawaiian students, and their families get to the education and the place that they deserve to be getting to," she said.

There are 30 programs under the Native Hawaiian Education banner.

"It's an asset for our Native Hawaiian students," Moore said.

The White House says the Native Hawaiian Education program duplicates services and could be funded with dollars that go to other programs that support Hawaii. But Riel believes if the present funding goes away it's gone for good.

"Teaching these kids that have failed before, they're going to continue that cycle if we don't have these programs," she said.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said Hawaii's Congressional delegation was pleased to get full funding for Native Hawaiian education programs in the bill that was enacted into law two weeks ago, "despite the Trump Administration's attempt to cut them severely."

"We will fight to keep these dollars for the next fiscal year as well," he said.

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