History & Back Ground
The Voices of Pacific Island Nations or VOPIN is a 501.C.3 nonprofit organization established in 2015 in response to a longstanding academic crisis among Pacific Islander (PI) students in Washington State public schools. The problem has plagued the Pacific Islander community for decades and, left unchecked, is likely to grow, potentially having a negative social and economic impact on our state and its affected communities.
Pacific Islander students have been overlooked in educational research. Their educational inequity in Washington State public schools is evident as far back as the 70s. According to data published by various organizations such as OSPI (Washington States Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction), Pacific Islander students are frequently at a disadvantage in Washington State public schools. They are more likely to come from families who are below the poverty level. A substantial number of students are not meeting the academic standards based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) state test. Their disciplinary rates are disproportionately high relative to their total student enrollment. They have one of the highest chronic absenteeism rates and one of the highest dropout rates among students of color.
The PI students' academic crisis is partially obscured due to how Pacific Islander and Asian students are lumped together into one category, Asian Pacific Islander (API) or Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI). This categorization unintentionally underrepresents and under serves PI students and their families.
The alarming data have motivated PI parents and grandparents, educators, and PI community members to collectively plan and develop short and long-term strategies to address this crisis. The islanders are most proud of their identity expressed through their culture and arts. Through the centuries, their learning style has been hands-on, learning by doing.
Our values define the way we act, individually and collectively. They guide our work and the way we work. Values shape our culture and reflect what's important to us. Our faith, values, culture and arts have and will remain the fabric of our society.
The VOPIN and community stakeholders look upon our PI youth to be future leaders and to share our heritage with others. Therefore, we are committed to providing high-quality and culturally responsive educational services and resources to achieve educational equity, close the academic and opportunity gaps, and serve as a bridge to develop stronger relationships between schools, students, their parents, and all stakeholders.