Learning Hale: Federal Title I education funding underutilized in Hawaii

Jamie Winpenny

HONOLULU—There are currently 111 Hawaii public and charter schools that qualify for free tutoring from organizations like the Learning Hale, which has a database of about 800 former and current students. Sadly, this resource for Hawaii students is vastly underutilized, according to the Learning Hale’s Paul Ware.

The Learning Hale is a Honolulu-based company that provides free supplemental instruction and educational materials to students of Department of Education Title I schools who qualify. Title I is a federal program that provides over $7 billion yearly to school systems in the United States with a high proportion of students from low-income families that are at risk of academic failure. The company is approved by the Hawaii Department of Education as a Supplemental Educational Services Provider.

Ware says that there are many factors that prevent a large number of eligible students from signing up for the free tutoring. There are bureaucratic obstacles, including application deadlines and paperwork that confuse students and parents alike. Another major factor is the language barrier.

“There are schools where there are maybe a dozen native student languages,” Ware explains. “Even when the information about programs like ours is translated, many times the parents aren’t literate in their native language, so they have limited means of accessing the information.”

The United States Department of Education provides funding to the Hawaii DOE, which then passes the funding to organizations like The Learning Hale. Because such tutoring and supplemental education resources are underused, that available federal money does not stay in Hawaii to feed the lagging economy.

“If it doesn’t get used,” says Ware, “the money goes right back to Washington D.C.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Hawaii ranked 48th in the nation in mean critical reading scores on the SAT, and 46th in writing scores for the 2008-2009 school year. In both categories, Hawaii scores are well below the national average.

And while a DOE report from July reveals that substantial gains in reading and math scores have been made since 2007, many schools are facing restructuring due to a failure to make what No Child Left Behind considers “adequate yearly progress.” The number of public schools in need of improvement or that are restructuring due to poor performance far exceed the number of schools making adequate yearly progress.

The impact of these federal and local resources going unused, therefore, affects not only the future of Hawaii’s keiki, but the entire state economy, which stands to benefit from available federal dollars.

To find out more about the free tutoring, visit www.learninghale.com.

The Learning Hale
320 Ward Avenue #205
(808) 947-9006