by Andrew Walden
Heritage Foundation personnel are pleased by the response to their first-ever Heritage-sponsored event in Hawaii. About 100 Hawaii conservatives gathered for dinner at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Wednesday to hear King’s College President Dinesh D’Souza dissect President Obama’s world-view. Before D’Souza’s presentation, Jennifer Marshall, the Heritage Foundation’s Director of Domestic Policy Studies joined a panel discussion on school choice which included State Senator Sam Slom.
Marshall, who oversees the think tank’s Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, took her presentation on the road. During a three-day tour of Hawaii she spoke to political science students at BYUH and to TEA Party groups in Kona (video link) and Hilo.
Regarding the failure of Race to the Top in Hawaii, Marshall told audiences that federally imposed top-down school reform measures such as Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind hinder parent participation and that successful school reforms come from the grassroots. Marshall pointed out that the city of Washington DC is a heavily Democrat and heavily liberal community, yet parents, the Washington Post, and some Democratic elected officials stood up, and with the help of Congress—which oversees Washington DC—they were able to overcome entrenched opposition from the teachers union and give about 1,900 students an opportunity to escape DC’s failing public school system.
Marshall showed audiences her video “Let Me Rise” – featuring Washington DC parents, students and liberal commentator Juan Williams talking about their fight to win and keep school vouchers in Washington DC schools. Marshall advised her Hawaii audiences to “study success where it’s been had.”
As a result of the school choice success story in Washington DC, vouchers are spreading to school systems nationwide. In Indiana, 60% of students will have scholarships available to them in 2013.
In Hilo, where about 35 people gathered in the upstairs dining room of the New Star restaurant, audience members included leaders of the charter schools movement and Board of Education member Brian DeLima. Charter school organizers participated in the Kona meeting as well.
Heritage Foundation staff hope to hold annual Heritage-sponsored events in Hawaii.
WHT: Think tank speaker emphasizes school choice
Related: Heritage Foundation to Tour Honolulu, Laie, Kona, Hilo Jan 31-Feb 2
VIDEO: Kona Presentation
VIDEO: Let Me Rise