Category Archives: Education

Educational travel agreement was long overdue

An agreement made public this week between the State Ethics Commission and the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) settles the issue of teachers receiving free travel while serving as chaperones on official public school educational trips.

A press release announcing the agreement, and the full text of the agreement, were posted on the commission’s website on Tuesday, January 3.

The agreement settles a long running dispute between the commission and HSTA which included a long set of guidelines approved by the commission severely restricting and, in practice, virtually eliminating educational trips by students and teachers. Those guidelines were challenged by HSTA, first in an appeal to the commission itself, and then to court, where the commission’s opinion was overturned. HSTA was represented by attorney Colleen Hanabusa, who was reelected to a seat in Congress in November and was just seated this week.

The joint press release mention the two years of legal wrangling. But the settlement agreement itself is quite specific. It references both the administrative appeal and lawsuit, and acknowledges the agreement reached “in order to avoid the further expense and risk of litigation, and to provide clarity for HSTA’s members in the immediate future regarding their ability to organize, promote, and chaperone student travel, the Undersigned Parties now desire to mutually and finally resolve and compromise all issues and claims….”

In the end, the agreement is substantively very simple.

It allows teachers to accept free air fare and hotel accommodations while serving as chaperones on educational trips that comply with current or future Department of Education rules.

It prohibits teachers from accepting additional gratuities from travel companies, such as stipends, iPads, or travel vouchers, although these can be accepted if DOE rules allow them to be accepted by the schools or the department.

And the commission retains jurisdiction over potential direct conflicts of interest.

Teachers who consider selecting a Tour Company in which they (or a family member) have a financial interest should contact the Ethics Commission for guidance so as to avoid any violations of conflict of interest / fair treatment laws; the Ethics Commission retains the authority to investigate and charge individuals with violations of these provisions as appropriate.

It looks like an agreement that could and should have been reached nearly two years ago.

One question arises: How and when was the agreement approved by the commission? The members of the ethics commission, and commission director Dan Gluck, along with a deputy attorney general representing the commission, all signed off on the agreement on December 22, 2016.

However, the commission’s scheduled meeting in December was cancelled, and there’s no indication on the official State Calendar of a meeting being held.

It’s possible that the agreement was approved in executive session in November. If so, though, would it require a publicly posted meeting for the commissioners to all gather in order to execute the agreement? At this point, I’m not sure, but it’s worth asking the question.

Don’t miss: Ceramics of Hawaii

First statewide showYou really shouldn’t miss this show. As the sign says, it’s the first statewide juried show featuring ceramics made by Hawaii artists, a project spearheaded by the Hawaii Potters’ Guild.

The exhibit is at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (the old Linekona School, on the corner of Beretania and Victoria Street, next to Thomas Square) through January 8.

There’s a lot of creativity and skill on display. Lots of beautiful pieces, many displaying delightful humor. If you’re at all interested in ceramics, don’t miss this. Seriously.

The show was juried by David Karaoke, Emeritus Professor at San Francisco State University, who is credited with launching Hawaii Craftsmen’s Raku Ho’olaule’a, “held annually for 40 years.”

According to the program, he was named one of Hawaii’s Living Treasures in 1987.

Below, Meda with our friend, Vicky Chock, and her piece which is included in the show, titled, “The Magician.”

Vicky Chock

Event to challenge “systemic barriers to justice”

A gathering dubbed “The People’s Congress” is being held this weekend in Honolulu, according to a press release from a coalition of sponsoring groups.

The two day event, which is scheduled to run all day Saturday and Sunday, aims to bring together people and groups “working to end systemic barriers to justice in Hawai’i.”

Workshops and panels will address a range of issues, from affordable housing and “Preferred Futures in Public Education” to what can be done to reduce the influence of big money in politics and elections.

Take a look at the full schedule and you’ll likely find some discussions of interest.

The weekend events will be at the KUPU Net Shed, 725-F Ala Moana Blvd. in Honolulu.

The conference is free, but advance registration is required.

Sponsoring organizations include Unite Here! Local 5 Union, and the Local 5-backed Aikea Movement, along with a number of other groups, including Community Alliance on Prisons, Hawai?i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA), Hawai?i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, Hawai?i Center for Food Safety (HCFS), Hawai’i People’s Fund, Hawai‘i SEED, Hawai‘i Teachers for Change Caucus, Hawai‘i’s Thousand Friends, Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, KAHEA: Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, Life of the Land, Maui Tomorrow, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC), Sierra Club of Hawai`i, the Aloha ‘Aina Project.

The People’s Congress follows a series of forums held last month on Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island. According to the People’s Congress website, the forums drew “over 300” participants. Given the number of organizations involved, that seems quite a modest turnout for a series of events meant to build up to this weekend’s Congress.

Another accident in the same crosswalk prompts UH email blast

Another accident in the same crosswalk on Dole Street in front of the UH Law School prompted an email blast from the university administration sent to all students, faculty and staff Monday afternoon (October 31).

It’s a welcome change from the past practice of official silence after such unfortunate events.

Here’s the full text of the UH email notice:

From: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Date: Monday, October 31, 2016
Subject: Safety urged after pedestrian accident

Aloha Manoa Ohana,

There was a pedestrian accident this afternoon (Monday, October 31) on Dole Street in the crosswalk near the School of Law Library and Holmes Hall. Thankfully the victim, a UH Manoa student, was not seriously injured. This is, however, the same location as last week’s fatality.

The university would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to please be careful. Keep an eye out for each other–be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially in areas of heavy foot traffic. Whether traveling by automobile, moped, bicycle, skateboard or foot, please Move with Aloha http://manoa.hawaii.edu/dps/movewithaloha.html so that wherever you are going, you get there safely.

Mahalo

It’s a simple, timely acknowledgement of the accident and an occasion to remind all of the importance of traffic safety in the busy university area.

Earlier in the day, in a comment on yesterday’s post, I had comment and made a suggestion:

Why is it so difficult for UH to respond to such incidents by acknowledging them and using them to convey important information (for example, something like this– “we have learned that the closure of Dole Street was due to a fatal traffic accident involving two mopeds. Such incidents can be upsetting to those who witness or hear accounts from others. Any students or other members of the campus community can take advantage of the counseling services which are available by contacting/calling … And although the victim in this accident was not a university student, it is somber reminder that the busy streets surrounding the campus can be dangerous. Drivers and pedestrians should always proceed with caution.”)

I doubt my suggestion had anything to to do with the message that was sent out later in the day. But I’m glad to see UH being proactive in this case, and hope that this becomes the general policy going forward.