Chair Tokuda, Vice-Chair Kidani and Committee Members
The League of Women Voters Hawaii agrees with the intent of SB2288 that amends or repeals various provisions of Chapter 302A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, for housekeeping and other purposes.
However, we point to Section 11(e)(2)(E) with the strike-out of shall be composed of the principal and at least one member representing each of the following groups where (E) Student representatives selected by the student council of the school; is struck and changed to: (3) At the elementary and middle school levels, each school community council may allow for student representatives selected by the Student council of the school, and
Switching 'shall' to 'may' in this context will potentially limit inclusion of a younger student membership on the School Community Councils. Changing this wording may not have a negative impact in schools with progressive leaders who will likely be inclusive of all of their students, including those in the early elementary grades. We are concerned that removing the directive to schools to include students in the composition of their school community councils will exclude student voice from decision making. We understand that young students are often not able to articulate their desires and opinions. But it is the adults in a community who are responsible for modeling listening and speaking skills, and skills in conducting meetings for our youngest learners. What these students are gaining from sitting at the table is a sense of inclusion and empowerment. It is at this kind of gathering that selected student representatives, no matter their age, begin to learn the skills that they can use to voice the opinions to set policy as well as to model these skills for other students.
Act 51, Session Laws of Hawaii 2004 [Statute 302A-1124] known as the "Reinventing Education Act" was created to support inclusion and student voice. Please reconsider changing this important statute through a word change in what appears to be billed as "housekeeping and other purposes." This is not 'housekeeping.' This is changing the intent of Act 51.
We respectfully request that you reconsider the wording of this proposed legislation to require inclusion by the schools of all students, regardless of age. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.