Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hawaiian school admissions policy discriminatory?

Thanks to Kanaka Girl for passing this on to me. From CNN:
A wealthy private school created exclusively for its indigenous people is asking a federal appeals court to allow it to continue its race-based admissions policy.

Fifteen judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday in San Francisco about whether the Kamehameha Schools can continue to limit enrollment to Native Hawaiians.

While the courts have generally ruled against favoritism in education based on race, the Kamehameha case is different. The school receives no federal money. And its policy was based on the will of a Hawaiian princess 10 years before the monarchy was overthrown.

"Her whole intent was to provide a means for educating her people so they could compete in a society that was changing so quickly," said Kekoa Paulsen, a spokesman for Kamehameha Schools.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit initially ruled 2-1 against Kamehameha's admissions policy last August. But the full court announced in February it would reconsider that decision. The admissions policy has remained in place while appeals are pending.
Kamehameha Schools was established under the 1883 will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop as part of a trust now worth $6.8 billion. Part of the school's mission is to counteract historical disadvantages Native Hawaiians face in employment, education and society.
Following the initial ruling against Kamehameha last year, 15,000 people marched through downtown Honolulu in protest.

"We're not asking for a handout. We're asking to be able to take care of our own," said Miki Kim, a 1976 Kamehameha Schools graduate who organized a rally last fall supporting the school. "This country is not fair."
That last paragraph really bugs me. First of all, life's not with it. Secondly, "take care of our own"? Does anyone want to guess what the reaction would be if a white "mainlander" were to make a comment about "taking care of our own"? That disturbs me, I don't mind telling you.

I have mixed feelings on this. Be it that I'm not Hawaiian, I guess I have a different perspective.

On the one hand, I don't see how this is much different than having an all-black school or all-white school. The argument is that only people of a certain race/nationality/culture can go there. What if Tennessee had a school that said only native Tennesseans could go there, in order to preserve our fine banjo-strumming, BBQ-cooking, possum-eating heritage? For those of you on the left, we don't really eat possum in least, not during the off-season! LOL!

Having said that...

The school is a PRIVATE school that does not accept federal funds. Therefore, the school should be able to run any which way it sees fit. Throw in the fact that the school (private property, which prior to Kelo actually meant something) was explicitly WILLED to native Hawaiians (the beneficiaries of the will), which is no different than you willing your 401k to your kids or church or dogs or whomever. Therefore, it seems to me that however I may like/dislike the school being ONLY for natives, it is likely well within their legal right to exist as they currently do. Plus, anything the 9th Circus wants to override can't be bad in the first place, since all they do is override good judgment and common sense, right?

Weigh in, folks. What do you think?