Senator Schatz’s Amendments to Promote Native Hawaiian Language Education and Improve School Facilities Passes Senate

Washington, D.C. – Today, two amendments introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) were adopted by the U.S. Senate as part of the Every Child Achieves Act, which is the reauthorization bill for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  The first amendment promotes Native Hawaiian language education and the second amendment addresses school facilities.

“Native languages have the power to strengthen the connection between students, their communities and their cultures,” said Senator Schatz.  “In Hawai‘i, we have seen how Native Hawaiian immersion schools can improve student achievement and lift native communities. My amendment will give us the tools we need to improve and expand Native Hawaiian programs in Hawai‘i.”

The amendment authorizes a study of Native American language immersion schools which would provide critical data and help determine best practices for educating native students through the medium of Native American languages including Native Hawaiian.

“The purpose of our federal education policy is to ensure that every child gets a high-quality education. But today, too many schools are in poor condition and lack the modern equipment necessary to keep kids focused and ready to learn,” said Senator Schatz. “My provision included in the Every Child Achieves Act will help us learn more about the condition of students’ school environments, so that we can make smarter, more effective decisions on school spending.”

Under this amendment, states will report in their state plan whether they are monitoring the quality of their school facilities on a periodic basis. Studies have shown a link between student performance and the physical condition of their schools, but while data show a majority of schools are in need of improvement, we do not have a clear picture of how states are addressing the need to improve their school facilities.  This amendment will help develop a more comprehensive picture of our nation’s school facilities. The amendment could also encourage more states to begin assessing the condition of their facilities and collecting data on the impact it has on student achievement.  

The Every Child Achieves Act passed the Senate today by a vote of 81 to 17.