Category Archives: Education

Storm raises charter school question

Wednesday’s storm caused damage at a small, Hawaiian-language immersion school in Haiku Valley on the windward side of Oahu, according to a story broadcast by Hawaii News Now.

HNN reported:

The wind shredded a 20-foot-by-60-foot tarpaulin, twisting most of the metal poles that held it up.

The structure served as the school’s outdoor multi-purpose area.

“It’s our everything for our kids. It’s our cafeteria. This is where they meet. This is where they have their singing. Everything happens here,” Wise said.

There are 157 students at the school across all grade levels, from pre-K through high school. Lessons are taught in Hawaiian.

My question is whether a large tarp covering an open area is appropriate for what is apparently a primary structure central to the activities of this school.

When we lived in Kaaawa, city building inspectors would periodically come through the neighborhood and cite residents who were using these temporary kind of tarps as permanent carports.

I believe the tarps are flammable as well as subject to wind damage, as occurred yesterday.

What if students had been in the area when that gust of wind hit and took down the tarp and its supporting structure? A potentially dangerous situation?

Are there standards for the facilities used by this and other charter schools? Should there be? If standards are in place, should they be enforced?

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.