Hawaii Public School Students See Double-Digit Gains on AP Exams

Hawaii’s public school students continue to show growth on the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) Exams.

In a report released today, Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) students who were tested last May show double-digit increases in the number of exam takers, exams taken and scores of 3 or higher.

2015-16 2016-17 % Change
# of Exam Takers 5,958 6,599 +10.8 percentage points
# of Exams Taken 8,972 9,903 +10.4 percentage points
Students scoring 3, 4 or 5 3,634 4,178 +15 percentage points

“The year-over-year growth the department has shown on AP Exams since 2007 is promising, and demonstrates that our students are developing a better understanding of the advantages that the AP Program provides to prepare for college,” said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. “The number of students who are scoring 3 or higher on these exams, which has gone up by 15 percentage points since last year, shows that more students are getting the resources they need to gain college credit through this exam. My vision is to have all students take at least one AP level course or Early College course as part of their high school curriculum. Congratulations to our students and their families, teachers and school leaders on these fantastic results.”

Approximately 11 percent of the Hawaii public school students who took an AP exam in SY 2016-17 earned an AP Scholar Award. At eight HIDOE high schools, 11 students qualified for the National AP Scholar Award by earning an average score of 4 or higher on a five-point scale on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams. Additional highlights from the College Board results include:

  • 717 students at 37 HIDOE schools have earned AP Scholar Awards in recognition of their exceptional achievement on AP Exams.
  • 134 students at 25 HIDOE schools qualified for the AP Scholar with Distinction Award by earning an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams.
  • 131 students at 24 HIDOE schools qualified for the AP Scholar with Honor Award by earning an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams.
  • 433 students at 36 HIDOE schools qualified for the AP Scholar Award by completing three or more AP Exams with scores of 3 or higher.

For the first time in Hawaii, the AP Capstone Diploma and AP Seminar and Research Certificate were awarded to students at HIDOE schools. The AP Capstone Diploma and AP Seminar and Research Certificate are reported to colleges and universities as AP Scholar Awards and appear in Scholar Roster reports. The AP Capstone Diploma is granted to students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing. The AP Seminar and Research Certificate is granted to students who earn scores of 3 or higher in both AP Seminar and AP Research. Schools need to apply to College Board to become an AP Capstone school. Currently, Kalani, Mililani, Roosevelt, and Waiakea high schools are certified.

Through 38 different college-level courses and exams, AP Program provides students with the opportunity to take rigorous college-level courses while still in high school, and to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both. Each exam is developed by a committee of college and university faculty and AP teachers, ensuring that AP Exams are aligned with the same high standards expected by college faculty at some of the nation’s leading liberal arts and research institutions. More than 3,800 colleges and universities annually receive AP scores. Most four-year colleges in the U.S. provide credit and/or advanced placement for qualifying exam scores.

For more information about the AP Exam and HIDOE results, click here.

Hawaii Receives $2.7 Million to Improve Veterans Cemeteries on Maui, Hawaii Island, and Lanai

On Friday Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced that the State of Hawaii will receive over $2.7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration to improve veterans’ cemeteries on Maui, Hawaii Island, and Lanai.

“Our veterans’ cemeteries honor the commitment we’ve made to our service members and their eligible loved ones at the end of their lives,” said Senator Hirono, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “Hawaii’s veterans have long advocated for needed repairs and improvements at cemeteries across the state, and the funding announced today meaningfully recognizes the sacrifice Hawaii veterans made for their country.”

“We’re very appreciative of the support for these important cemetery improvement projects from our Congressional and State Leaders and especially from the VA’s National Cemetery Administration,” said Ronald Han, Director of the Hawaii Office of Veterans’ Services. “These significant enhancements will continue to improve the quality of our cemeteries for those Veterans and their eligible loved ones who served a grateful nation.”

As part of the grant funding, Maui Veteran Cemetery will receive $1.3 million to support the raising, realigning, and cleaning of 1,225 headstones, as well as the restoration of 25,600 square feet of turf.

East Hawaii Veterans Cemetery II-Hilo will receive $870,000 for the construction of a new maintenance building, entry gate with fencing, a flag assembly area, landscape, and supporting infrastructure.

Lanai Veterans Cemetery will also receive $582,000 for the construction of a new water system, as assembly area, 800 linear feet of fence, landscaping, and supporting infrastructure.

Collectively, the projects will serve 54,300 veterans and their families.

U.S. Senate Passes APEC Business Travel Card Program

The U.S. Senate today unanimously passed S. 504, a bill introduced by Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) to make permanent the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card Program, which grants Americans and citizens from APEC nations access to fast-track processing lanes at Daniel K. Inouye Honolulu International Airport and airports across the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

When APEC visited Hawaii I received a media pass from Washington D.C.  and got to attend the events with the world leaders.

Over 200 Hawaii residents are active holders of the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC), which saves 43 minutes on average in airport wait times. Without the passage of the bill, U.S. Customs and Border Protection cannot issue cards to U.S. citizens after September 30, 2018.

“The APEC Business Travel Card has helped hundreds of Hawaii residents travel and conduct business with ease across a region critical to our local economy and jobs,” said Senator Hirono. “By permanently extending this successful program, the Senate today has affirmed the importance of travel to our economy and our country’s engagement with the nations of the Asia-Pacific.”

“With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside of the United States, it’s critical that we continue to make it more efficient for American businesses to reach overseas markets,” said Senator Daines.

S. 504, the APEC Business Travel Cards Act of 2017, is supported by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce, U.S. Council for International Business, National Foreign Trade Council, U.S. Travel Association, Global Business Travel Association, American Hotel and Lodging Association, U.S.-China Business Council, U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China, and the National Center for APEC.

The bill was also cosponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the business travel card initiative by APEC, a multilateral forum that includes the U.S., Japan, China and 18 other Pacific Rim economies.

At the 2011 APEC summit in Honolulu, President Obama signed the original bill authorizing the U.S. Government to issue ABTCs to U.S. citizens. Senator Hirono was a cosponsor of the bill as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In November 2016, Senator Hirono urged President Obama to extend the card’s validity from three to five years to be consistent with other APEC nations. On December 13, 2016, CBP began issuing 5-year ABTCs.

S. 504 must now be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in order to be sent to the President for his signature.

Hawaii Joins State Coalition Demanding U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Stop Attacking Student Borrowers

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin and Executive Director of the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection Steve Levins today joined a coalition of states demanding U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Secretary Betsy DeVos stop her systematic rollback of critical protections for student loan borrowers.

Click to read full letter

Attorney General Chin and Executive Director Levins said, “The United States Department of Education is supposed to be helping American students obtain a legitimate education that won’t financially cripple them. Instead, inexplicably, its actions are punishing students and benefiting predatory lenders. This must stop.”

The letter to Secretary DeVos, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and joined by 19 other states and the District of Columbia, finds three main faults with an August decision by the USDOE to end two memoranda of understanding it had with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):

  • USDOE falsely asserted it has exclusive jurisdiction over companies that service federal student loans. In fact, student loan servicers are under the joint jurisdiction of the CFPB, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice, attorneys general and other law enforcement agencies;
  • The letter is the latest in a series of actions by USDOE to strip critical protections for millions of students and families repaying student loans; and
  • USDOE misrepresents the strong work done by the CFPB on behalf of students and families across the country.

As the letter details: “Contrary to the Department’s assertion, Congress did not exempt the $1.3 trillion federal student loan market from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s jurisdiction – or from the jurisdiction of any other law enforcement agencies. … Not only is the Department’s assertion demonstrably false, but such an exemption would make no sense – the market for federal student loan servicers is bigger than any other consumer finance market except mortgages. Moreover, student loan borrowers, who in most cases cannot discharge their student loans through bankruptcy, are among the most vulnerable borrowers.”

USDOE’s August 31st letter to the CFPB terminating two memoranda of understanding ended critical protections designed to streamline the supervision of student loan servicers. Today’s letter from the states makes clear this step harms American families and makes it more difficult for the CFPB to assist and protect student borrowers.

As today’s letter states, “[t]he only beneficiaries of the Department’s sweeping rollbacks of consumer protections are the loan servicers and for-profit colleges, and their executives and investors. We suggest the Department of Education focus its efforts on removing the ability of schools selling worthless educational programs to obtain federally guaranteed student loans.”

Today’s letter highlights the strong work the CFPB has done to protect students and families, often in partnership with the USDOE and state attorneys general, including:

  • Processing complaints from over 40,000 student loan borrowers;
  • With Washington State and Illinois, suing Navient, the nation’s largest student loan servicer, for steering borrowers into costly repayment plans that benefit the servicer, not the borrower;
  • Cracking down on abusive for-profit colleges ITT Tech and Corinthian;
  • Halting illegal loan servicing practices at Wells Fargo; and
  • Working with state attorneys general to create an online tool that helps students plan for college by comparing financial aid offers, loan commitments and earnings potential.

Joining Hawaii and Pennsylvania on today’s letter were California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Hawaii Senate Confirms Third Circuit Court Judges

In unanimous floor votes, members of the Hawai‘i State Senate today confirmed the appointments of Third Circuit District Family Court Judge Henry T. Nakamoto to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit (Hilo) and attorney Robert D.S. Kim to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit (Kona).

“These two appointees were brought before the Senate with high regard from those within the legal community,” said Senator Brian Taniguchi (Dist. 11 – Manoa, Makiki, Punchbowl, Papakolea), chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary. “The breadth of their experience, legal knowledge, and expressed commitment to the community and public service make these judges solid additions to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit.”

Henry Taro Nakamoto has served as a Family Court judge and a District Court judge since June 2014. Before serving on the bench, he was a partner and director at Nakamoto, Okamoto & Yamamoto, and an associate at Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel. He was born and raised on Hawai‘i Island and practiced law there for 23 years. Nakamoto completed a B.A. in economics at Cornell University before earning his J.D. at Hastings College of Law.

Nakamoto’s confirmation fills the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Judge Glenn S. Hara. He will serve for a term of 10 years.
Robert D.S. Kim has been a private practice litigator who has extensive civil, family and criminal trial experience. Kim served as the West Hawai‘i Bar Association President for many years. Kim graduated with a B.A. in political science from the University of Hawai‘i, Hilo and earned his law degree at the William S. Richardson School of Law. Kim’s confirmation fills the vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Judge Ronald Ibarra. He will serve for a term of 10 years.

Free Medicare Basics Seminar

Helping the community stay informed about the “what,” “when,” and “how” of Medicare is important to the members of Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union (HCFCU) and on Saturday, October 7, 9:30am – 11:30am the credit union will present a free Medicare 101 seminar. Held at HCFCU’s Kaloko facility in the John Y. Iwane Credit Union Center Training Room (73-5611 Olowalu St., Kailua Kona), this informative seminar is free to the public but with limited seating.

Please register by contacting 808-930-7700 or marketing@hicommfcu.com. The seminar is for educational and informational purposes only. No plan specific benefits or details will be shared.

“We want to help our members with essential Medicare information so that they’re as prepared as possible when they’re ready to enroll,” said HCFCU President and CEO Tricia Buskirk.

Peter Amelotte, Health Benefits Manager with Aloha Insurance Services, Inc. will answer such questions as:

  • How old do I have to be to enroll in Medicare?
  • What are my Medicare health plan options?
  • Can I have other insurance and still have Medicare?
  • What’s the difference between Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B?
  • Is prescription drug coverage required?

Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit credit union owned by its over 39,000 member/owners with branches in Honokaa, Kailua-Kona, Kaloko, Kealakekua and Kohala. In addition to complete checking and savings services, the credit union offers credit cards, auto, mortgage, construction, small business, educational and personal loans; online and mobile banking; investment services; youth programs, and supports numerous Hawaii Islandprograms and events. Membership in HCFCU is open to all Hawaii Island residents. For more information visit www.hicommfcu.com.

Hawaii Representative Ing to Introduce Bill to Lower Beer Tax

Representative Kaniela Ing plans to introduce a bill during the next legislative session that would cut taxes Hawaii residents pay for beer by more than half, from 93 cents a gallon to 42 cents a gallon.

“While it may appear that beer is taxed at a lower rate per gallon when compared to wine or spirits, if you break down the amount of alcohol per average gallon of beer versus wine or spirits, beer drinkers are taxed at a much higher rate,” said Rep. Ing. “The goal here is to level out the taxes so that each type of alcoholic beverage is taxed equitably.”

Ing says that his proposed tax cut is not to encourage drinking, as he rarely drinks alcohol himself. Rather, Ing says, his proposal is a matter of class fairness.

“Working people tend to drink beer more often than other types of alcoholic beverages. But today they are taxed more per ounce of alcohol than someone drinking wine. When you look at it that way, the current system is incredibly unjust.”

Compared to other states, Hawaii’s alcohol taxes rank second for beer, 11th for wine, and 23rd for spirits.

Ing believes this proposal makes sense from an economic and business standpoint as well. “Hawaii’s beer industry is growing and has resulted in hundreds of new jobs, diversified tourism, and a stronger economy,” he said. “If you look at other states, this local industry has a lot of room to grow. We should encourage the growth of local business to allow them to compete in the national marketplace.”

Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines Announce Comprehensive New Partnership

Two of the most popular airlines between Hawai’i and Japan yesterday signed a comprehensive new partnership agreement that will greatly enhance the ease and comfort of travel for passengers traveling between the two island chains. The agreement between Hawaiian Airlines and Japan Airlines, signed at a ceremony in Tokyo, takes effect March 25, 2018 (subject to government approval). The agreement provides for extensive code sharing, lounge access and frequent flyer program reciprocity.

(L-R): Theo Panagiotoulias, senior vice president of global sales and alliances, Hawaiian Airlines; Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO, Hawaiian Airlines; Yoshiharu Ueki, representative director and president, Japan Airlines; and Hideki Oshima, executive officer, Japan Airlines.

“We are delighted to partner with Japan Airlines for our long-term future in Japan,” said Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Mark Dunkerley. “Japan Airlines embodies the welcoming culture of Japan and is renowned for the quality of its services. Our partnership will greatly increase travel choices for those in Japan looking to travel to Hawaii as well as for those in Hawaii looking to travel to Japan.”

“Hawaiian Airlines is well known among Japanese travelers for its warm hospitality and its excellent record for punctuality and safety,” said Japan Airlines President Yoshiharu Ueki. “We look forward to providing our passengers with additional options of exceptional service and comfortable travel to and throughout the Hawaiian Islands.”

As part of this comprehensive partnership, the two carriers also intend to establish a joint venture designed to provide even more choices, convenience and enhancements to the traveling public to/from Japan and beyond to multiple Asian markets.

In the near-term:

• JAL guests will have unlimited access to Hawaiian’s vast neighbor island and Japan-Hawai’i network, including non-stop flights between Sapporo and Honolulu.

• Hawaiian Airlines will have full access to JAL’s domestic network, which includes Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sendai and Aomori.

• Hawaiian’s Japan-to-Hawai’i flights will be offered as new options within Japan Airlines’ wholly owned subsidiary, JALPAK, a highly reputable package tour operator in Japan.

• JAL Mileage Bank and HawaiianMiles members will be able to earn miles on the codeshare flights. Further opportunities for accrual and redemption of mileage will be expanded at a later date.

• Guests will have access to both airlines’ lounges, and when Hawaiian has completed its planned relocation to Terminal 2 at Tokyo Narita Airport, guests of each airline will be able to seamlessly transfer between each carrier’s networks.

Pu‘uanahulu Landfill and Kealakehe Recycling and Transfer Station Closed for Kona Ironman Triathlon

The Pu‘uanahulu Landfill in Waikoloa and the Kealakehe Recycling and Transfer Station in Kailua-Kona will be closed all day on Saturday, October 14, 2017, due to road closures for the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Kona.

The closure at Kealakehe Recycling and Transfer Station will affect all services including Residential Rubbish Disposal, HI5 Redemption, 2-Bin Recycling, Green Waste Recycling, Re-Use Store and Mulch Pick-up.

Alternative services for Residential Rubbish Disposal, HI5 Redemption and 2-Bin Recycling are available at the Keauhou Recycling and Transfer Station.
Regular operations at the Kealakehe Recycling and Transfer Station will resume on Sunday, October 15, 2017.  The Pu‘uanahulu Landfill will resume its normal schedule and re-open on Monday, October 16, 2017.

Mahalo for your cooperation!

If you have any questions, please contact the Solid Waste Administrative Office at 808-961-8270.