The National Governors Association has selected Hawaii as one of six states to participate in a new effort to improve early learning outcomes through its policy academy.
NGA policy academy experts, private consultants, researchers and other educators will guide Hawaii officials as they develop and implement a plan designed to improve early learning policies and practices, particularly as they relate to educator effectiveness and assessment systems.
The Executive Office on Early Learning and Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education wrote the NGA application.
KCAA preschoolers at the Legislature in early 2013.
— Alia Wong
Teacher preparation programs at Hawaii universities are in need of some improvement, according to a recent report by the National Council on Teacher Quality.
The study, entitled “Teacher Prep Review 2013,” evaluated 1,130 higher education institutions. NCTQ used standards used by hundreds of institutions, according to the report.
The University of Hawaii at Hilo’s undergraduate elementary education program and UH Manoa’s undergraduate and graduate secondary education programs were among the weakest programs, each receiving a warning sign.
The warning signs mark institutions that have received a “Consumer Alert” from NCTQ. Fourteen percent of the programs surveyed received consumer alerts.
Meantime, UH Manoa’s graduate elementary program and Chaminade University’s graduate secondary program each got one star.
Chaminade’s undergraduate elementary program was the only program to receive two stars.
No Hawaii teacher prep programs were placed on the NCTQ honor roll, which recognizes schools that receive three or more stars.
Photo courtesy of Flickr: www.audio-luci-store.it
— Alia Wong
It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that advocates took it upon themselves to revitalize the Hawaiian language — the ‘ōlelo — and rescind an age-old law that had made its use illegal in both public and private schools.
Academics and language practitioners, many of them from the University of Hawaii, were at the forefront of that effort, according to a UH press release.
In a matter of decades, Hawaiian grew from being spoken only by a few elders and those living on Niihau to an increasingly robust language that is heard in schools, the airport, even the streets.
And now it’s being featured at the prestigious Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Center for Folklife Festival as part of its “One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage” series.
The program, hosted in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices initiative, UNESCO and the National Geographic Society, explores how languages from around the world embody cultural knowledge, identity and values. The series also highlights the role language preservation plays in sustaining cultural tradition.
The two other themes being showcased at the center include “Hungarian Heritage” and “The Will to Adorn.”
Most of the Hawaii delegation heading to D.C. is made up of UH Manoa, UH Hilo and community college students, faculty and staff. They’ll be presenting in lectures, “talk stories” and demonstrations involving poi-pounding, Niihau lei-making, Polynesian navigation techniques and music, chant and hula. Local performer and UH Hawaiian music Professor Aaron Sala is leading the delegation.
UH was the first public university in the U.S. to offer a master’s degree and, later, a Ph.D. in an indigenous language. It’s also the only university in which all of its community colleges offer a Hawaiian studies degree, according to the press release.
— Alia Wong
Six Hawaii teans are headed to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., next week for the week-long Ninth Annual Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development, where they’ll work with fellow youth and faculty to build leadership skills and brainstorm how to make a difference back home on the Big Island.
But the students’ need your help to get there. They’re inviting the public to donate money to the group through a page they set up on GoFundMe.com. They each need $2,500 plus airfare.
The Massachusetts summit will effectively kick of the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative, where the six nominated students start working on developing their so-called sustainability-in-action programs with their communities.
Photo courtesy of Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative.
A dozen faculty members from Indonesian universities are at the University of Hawaii at Manoa this summer learning about disaster risk management and how to save lives in times of emergency.
Indonesia is one of the most natural disaster-prone countries in the world. In the past decade, it has undergone more than 160 disasters — including at least 60 floods 40 earthquakes, a dozen volcanic events and several wildfires, according to a press release.
The College of Social Sciences’ Department of Urban and Regional Planning at UHM received a $327,000 grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the federal agency that administers foreign aid. The funding is meant to help develop a cadre of academically trained personnel who can reduce disaster risk through a new graduate-level Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance program that’s being piloted this year.
The Indonesian faculty members are the first to participate in this new graduate certificate program.
The aftermath of the devastating 2004 tsunami in Sumatra. (Photo courtesy of Australian Civil-Military Centre via Flickr.)
— Alia Wong
Kapiolani Community College students took the cake at this year’s CanSat competition, an international tournament sponsored by NASA and other American astronautical organizations in which competing teams design, build and launch a space-related mission.
The KCC team — Team Mod 6 — earned the top prize, out-performing teams from top universities across the country and in Iran, Canada and India, according to a press release.
The competition was held earlier this month in Abilene, Texas.
Team Mod 6, according to the press release, has been working hard on its mission since last January, when members presented their 100-page preliminary design review to NASA judges. After submitting other reports on their design process, the KCC students launched their final payload on a rocket flying 2,000 feet in the atmosphere somewhere above Texas.
Most of the students on KCC’s team were recruited through the campus’s summer bridge program, which is sponsored by a National Science Foundation grant. The program aims to increase the number of Native Hawaiian students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
Team Mod 6 members include Diamond Tachera, Kelsey Kawaguchi, Rae-zan Raposas, Joshua Tamayo, Logan Tamayo, McClyde Gaborno and Taylor Viti.
CanSat team at launch site in Texas. Photo courtesy of KCC.
— Alia Wong
KITV reports The Academy of the Pacific — a small private school that most recently enrolled roughly 30 students — is closing down indefinitely.
The closure is going into effect next school year. The school board’s chair, Barron Guss, attributed the decision to declining enrollment and a growing need among families for financial aid.
The Alewa Heights school is known for its small teacher-student ratio and alternative learning environments suited for students with special needs such as dyslexia.
Watch the full story here.
Screenshot of KITV news clip.
— Alia Wong
The Hawaii State Teachers Association and its struggles to pass a contract and appease its members provides the narrative for this Time magazine article on what’s happening with teachers unions nationally.
The writer looks behind the scenes at what prompted Campbell High teachers to start their own labor action they called “work-to-rules” protests. It seems teachers unions are evolving nationwide into less traditional union shops as younger teachers feel more inclined to take matters into their own hands.
“New Era of Labor: Hawaii’s Powerful Teachers Union’s Multi-Front War” was by The Hechtinger Report, a non-partisan education news services based at Columbia University.
(Photo: Campbell High School teachers and students protest, Nov. 15, 2012.)
— Patti Epler
Sixteen Kahaluu Elementary students returned to Oahu last week after performing in ukulele concerts at Disneyland with King Intermediate’s Symphonic Band.
But the Kahaluu students also made a visit to the nearby Paul Revere Elementary School in Anaheim, where local students were grieving after a neighborhood shooting. According to a write-up, disadvantaged Latinos make up 85 percent of Revere’s student body.
The Kahaluu students taught their Revere counterparts Hawaiian games and how to play the ukulele and dance hula. They also shared with them dried squid and poi.
After, the Hawaii and California students performed a hula together to Sam Kaahanui’s “Children of Hawaii.”
Anaheim students watch as Kahaluu Elementary students play their ukulele. (Photo courtesy of Hawaii Department of Education Windward District Office.)
— Alia Wong
The University of Hawaii Board of Regents decided this morning to create a group that will be tasked specifically with identifying potential interim presidents for a temporary position starting Sept. 1, when current UH President M.R.C. Greenwood is formally stepping down.
Honolulu Regent John Holzman, who was last month selected to chair the board’s three-member presidential selection task group, emphasized that the university is in a time crunch to fill the position in the interim. Board members didn’t stipulate how long that interim president would be on the job, though they said they would try to find a permanent president as expeditiously as possible.
Board Chair Eric Martinson also assembled a seven-person search committee for the separate task of hiring the president. Members include Holzman, Jan Sullivan, Saedene Ota, Chuck Gee, Barry Mizuno, James Lee and student member Jeffrey Tangonan Acido. (Martinson and Coralie Matayoshi will serve as ex-officio members.)
Regents agreed that in the meantime, the acting president’s role would be to continue Greenwood’s work and respond to emergencies rather than redesign the presidency, which they said will happen once a permanent president is hired.
“The first priority of any organization is just to do no harm,” Holzman said Thursday. “That means providing for a smooth, orderly transition as President Greenwood leaves on August 31st.”
“The task group’s assumption is that the work requirements of this person is to basically keep the wheels spinning,” he continued, noting that it would make sense to appoint someone who’s already within the UH system and is familiar with the current context. The group will work with board leadership to appoint the stand-in.
Greenwood abruptly announced last month that she’s retiring after this summer, two years before her contract is set to expire.
After deciding to create a group in charge of selecting interim candidates, board members delved into discussions over criteria for the next president and how that person would fit into the university’s goals.
More on that to come…
— Alia Wong
Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe announced late last night in a video message that the union has selected members for two committees meant to help the state develop a new teacher evaluation system, which is slated for implementation next school year.
The HSTA agreed to the recently ratified teachers contract on the condition that the union be allowed to convene a group to study the system and make final recommendations to the state Board of Education. The Educator Effectiveness System was a major sticking point in collective bargaining negotiations.
Okabe warned that the committees will be under intense pressure to come up with recommendations quickly; state officials have set teacher orientation for the new system to Aug. 5.
The first committee is a joint committee with four members. It’ll be in charge of studying the system and relaying observations and recommendations to the Department of Education.
The second one is an advisory committee that will collect information from individual schools and develop a cadre of teacher representatives who will provide input on the system. Those teachers will help guide the joint committee members.
“The voice of the teacher will be heard,” Okabe said. “The Advisory Committee will be reflecting your experiences and your desires for a system that should focus on improving the practice of teaching that leads to improved student learning and producing real results for students.”
Okabe announces committees in a video message.
— Alia Wong
Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi told school board members at their Human Resources Committee meeting today that existing salary structures are putting a damper on efforts to recruit for high-level DOE management and executive positions.
A conversation that started with discussion of Matayoshi’s salary — which is quite low compared to what superintendents for other large school districts make — quickly turned to concern about discrepancies between wages earned by managers working in the field and those earned by officers working in other administrative capacities.
HR committee member Brian De Lima said he had heard that employees in field management positions, such as principals, make much more than other high-level administrators, including complex area superintendents and assistant superintendents.
“In order to recruit the best and the brightest there needs to be pay equity,” De Lima said.
Matayoshi explained that the varying pay structures stem largely from the fact that superintendent salaries had in 2006 been capped at 80 percent of the statewide superintendent’s salary, which was frozen at $150,000. (On average, superintendents for large urban school districts made about $239,000 in 2010, with 54 percent making more than $250,000 per year.)
Hawaii DOE superintendent salary figures, including that for Matayoshi, haven’t changed in seven years.
Meanwhile, salaries of field executives have been on the rise, increasing by about 15 percent, Matayoshi said, with some principals’ salaries even exceeding her own.
“We’ve had problems with recruitment in the past because we do like to have people with great experience out in the field … it’s difficult to ask someone to take broader responsibility and a pay cut,” she said. “We do have disparity caused by a solution, but ultimately the concern is that if we don’t start to address the inequities, we won’t be able to recruit into leadership positions in the department.”
Read past coverage of DOE salaries here.
Hawaii Department of Education building. (Photo courtesy of Katherine Poythress.)
— Alia Wong
Federal education officials this morning reiterated President Barack Obama’s mission to provide high-quality early childhood education for all, releasing fact sheets detailing the plan’s impact on each state — including one on Hawaii that outlines how the federal initiative would help finance local early learning efforts.
The president’s proposal echoes rhetoric put forth by Gov. Neil Abercrombie and local early education advocates and highlights the role of public preschool in closing what U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls the “opportunity gap.”
They say preschool is an investment — not an expense — that would save society money in special needs and other welfare costs once expanded to all 4-year-olds.
The “Preschool-For-All” initiative involves partnerships with states such as Hawaii that are trying to implement — or have already implemented — public education programs for 4-year-olds. The proposal is included in Obama’s budget and invests $75 billion in the program over 10 years, money that officials say won’t add “a dime to the deficit.” (A proposed increase to the federal tax on tobacco products would fund the program.)
Hawaii would receive an estimated $7 million for the first year it participates in the program, serving about 850 children from low- and moderate-income families.
In Hawaii, lawmakers passed a bill that yields $7.16 million over the biennium to fund a school readiness program that expands the extant Preschool Open Doors, which operates under the Department of Human Services. Senate Bill 1093 is meant to help offset costs for families with late-born children who starting in 2014 won’t be able to enter kindergarten because the junior kindergarten program is being eliminated.
The school readiness program, which is expected to serve more than 900 kids, isn’t nearly as wide in scope as Abercrombie and other proponents had hoped, but advocates say it’s the first step to creating a public preschool system for all of the state’s 4-year-olds. It remains to be seen exactly how the federal proposal would help buttress local efforts, but Duncan said state administrations would be able to dictate how the federal preschool money is used.
Meanwhile, federal advocates want to establish programs serving infants and toddlers through a $1.4 billion competitive Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grant program. In Hawaii, that grant would expand early child care and education programs beyond the roughly 4,300 kids currently being served by the grant.
The feds are also pushing for a voluntary home visitation program that would help low-income mothers nurture their children, starting with pregnancy support. Hawaii — where roughly 4,900 low-income mothers give birth annually, according to the USDOE— would receive nearly $7 million in the program’s first year.
Seagull Schools preschoolers sing early this year as Gov. Neil Abercrombie explains his early childhood education proposals.
— Alia Wong
An Alaska Airlines airplane bearing a Hawaii-inspired painting designed by a high school student touched down today in Honolulu.
The design, dubbed the “Spirit of the Islands,” was created by 17-year-old Kaiser student Aaron Nee. Nee’s family members and several community leaders, including Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui and Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO Mike McCartney were at Honolulu International Airport to see the plane.
Roughly 2,700 Hawaii students submitted design entries in the statewide “Paint-the-Plane” contest, which was sponsored by Alaska Airlines in partnership with the Hawaii Department of Education and Hawaii Association of Independent Schools.
The 10-member judging panel included Hawaii artists, educators and other community members. After three finalists were selected, the public was invited to cast votes online.
Nee’s design shows a voyaging canoe, a yellow hibiscus, the Hawaiian island chain and the phrase “Spirit of the Islands.”
Nee won a trip for four to any of Alaska Airlines destinations — he chose New York — along with a $5,000 scholarship.
— Alia Wong
Another 11 University of Hawaii at Manoa graduate students are on their way to developing elementary-level math programs for Micronesian schools that incorporate indigenous values and learning styles.
The students got their master’s degrees in curriculum studies this May after completing Pacific Resources for Education and Learning’s “Mathematics and Culture in Micronesia: Integrating Societal Experiences” (MACIMISE) program at UHM, according to a press release.
The program is funded by the National Science Foundation and aims to:
- Develop elementary school math curricula “sensitive to indigenous mathematical thought and experience”
- Recapture and honor the math developed and practiced in the Micronesian communities
- Build local capacity by offering advanced degree opportunities to indigenous math educators, who transform what they find in local cultural practices into math curriculum.
Since July 2012, MACIMISE has produced 22 culture-based math programs for each of the island nations in which PREL works, including the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia. Another five or six programs will be selected for piloting beginning this September, marking the project’s fifth and final year.
Local education departments and ministries can use the programs at their disposal.
This picture shows Chuuk, one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia. (Photo courtesy of Flickr: mattk1979)
— Alia Wong