Nā Lei Na‘auao
Founded in 2000 by Native Hawaiian educators, parents and community members from throughout the archipelago, Nā Lei Na‘auao – Native Hawaiian Charter School Alliance (NLN) supports the growth of models of education throughout the Hawaiian Islands, which are community-designed and –controlled and reflect, respect and embrace Hawaiian cultural values, philosophies and ideologies. Nā Lei Na‘auao schools make up 45 percent of the state’s 27 start-up charter schools, serving over 4,200 students, over 91 percent of whom are of Hawaiian ancestry. Aligning with worldwide indigenous educational reform efforts, Nā Lei Na‘auao is using the national charter school movement as a vehicle to provide viable choices in education at the community level.
Nā Lei Na‘auao is also working together with Hawaiian organizations and others interested in closing Hawai‘i’s achievement gap, to create a system of education that is culturally driven, community-based and family-oriented and results in the establishment of sustainable communities, particularly in Hawai‘i’s rural areas. Each Nā Lei Na‘auao school is unique, rooted in its place and shaped by its community resources. Yet, all schools are united through a common practice of EA-Education with Aloha©, developed collectively over the past eleven years. EA-Education with Aloha© balances culturally-driven approaches with the latest in educational technology. Grounded in the wisdom and values of our ancestors, EA-Education with Aloha© strives for an atmosphere of care and congeniality permeating throughout the entire learning ‘ohana. In addition, curriculum, instruction and assessment are tailored to native learning styles and multiple intelligence featuring interdisciplinary and interactive education, hands-on activities, project- and place-based learning and multi-age groupings.
Research conducted by Kamehameha Schools asserts that a growing base of evidence confirms the academic success of Nā Lei Na‘auao schools as viable educational models. Research also confirms that Hawaiians in charter schools perform better on standardized reading and math tests and are significantly less chronically absent than Hawaiians in standard public schools. Furthermore, Nā Lei Na‘auao schools have high levels of school engagement and positive achievements due to culturally grounded, strength-based approaches, which are sensitive to student and family needs. Internal indigenous action research conducted by Nā Lei Na‘auao also confirms the effectiveness of innovative, community-based approaches, which are at once ancient and modern.