Special public schools for only English-speaking children? 1920.


Superintendent Recommends Establishment of Three Institutions For English-Speaking Children

Within a year or so Honolulu will have three schools primarily for English-speaking children, if recommendations made by Vaughan MacCaughey, superintendent of public instruction, are adopted by the department, and, since the law permits such schools, no objection is expected.

A committee of parents, representing some 400 English-speaking children, petitioned a recent meeting of the school board for the establishment of a school or schools for such children. The superintendent was authorized to investigate and submit a report and recommendations.

Recommendations and findings of the superintendent, in brief, are as follows:

Such Schools Long Provided For

The establishment of such schools is wholly legal and for many years has been specifically provided for under the present school laws, having been in existence many years.

The establishment of such schools in Honolulu is not a new movement but merely the continuance of a long-established policy of this territory. In fact, until the previous administration, Central Grammar school was a “select” school for English-speaking children only.

This long-recognized policy of the department, in its present application to the petition in question, has the approval and endorsement of the Governor, and many prominent and representative citizens, and officials of this department.

We cite statements of Dr. Frank F. Bunker and Professor Albert Bushnell Hart. These educational experts strongly recommend the continuance and extension of schools for English-speaking children.

The necessity for these schools is based upon two propositions:

“(1) That the children of those parents who have known no other allegiance than to America have as much right to an education at public expense as have children of parents of other origins and

“(2) That such children have a right to such an education under conditions which will insure to them and their parents that it can be had without endangering those standards and character qualities which are distinctively American and which must be preserved and kept inviolate and are a part of them because of their parentage.”

English the Basis of Instruction

“The public schools of the United States are based on the idea that the normal and only language of instruction is the official language of the country, namely, English. Every city and town ought to provide, as its regular system of instruction, the graded school in every grade of which English is essential with the normal promotions from year to year. All children ought to fit into those grades.

“It is, however, well known that in the Islands thousands of children of good mental endowment have so little acquaintance with English that they cannot keep up with such a normal, regular progression. Very well, they also are entitled to a training which will take account of their special needs and which will aim to bring them up in English to the point where they can enter some grade of the regular system and go ahead from that point.

“That is children who have not enough English to keep up with the regular schools out not to be admitted to such schools; and their education ought to be considered as a special and unusual task.

Separation Not Based on Race

“The separation between the children on this system, which on its face, is the natural and normal system, will never be based on race but simply on the use of the school facilities.”

Particularly significant is this statement in the committee’s petition, says MacCaughey:

“We especially desire that the race or nationality of an applicant be allowed no weight whatever in this test; in other words, we desire that the sole consideration, aside from the ordinary scholastic requirements for the grade, be the quality of the applicant’s oral English.”

Superintendent’s Recommendations

In view of the above facts and after numerous conferences, the superintendent submits the following recommendation:

  1. That, beginning with September 13, 1920, the Central Grammar School resume its original status as a school for English-speaking children only; not disturbing, however, the present enrollment.
  2. That the two new permanent Honolulu school building provided by the last legislature be made schools for English-speaking children. These buildings are to be of semi-permanent concrete construction at an approximate cost of $35,000 each. One is to be erected as soon as possible somewhere between Liliha and Kalihi; the other is to be erected, during the next fiscal year, either upon the Governor’s boulevard or somewhere in the Pawaa district.
  3. If these recommendations are adopted by the department, Honolulu will have, within the next few years, three large schools primarily for English-speaking children.

(PCA, 7/3/1920, p. 3)

Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Volume LIX, Number 19008, Page 3. July 3, 1920.


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