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Hawaii Department of Education Announces Transition Centers Initiative in Honor of Late Congressman K. Mark Takai

In partnership with Hawaii 3Rs and the Military Affairs Council, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) announced today an effort to develop high-quality transition centers for Hawaii public schools. The effort is in honor of late Congressman K. Mark Takai, who was a staunch advocate for Hawaii’s students and supporter of military-dependent students throughout his career.

Takai Transition Center partners and Kailua Intermediate AVID students announce the new HIDOE initiative. Photo Credit: Department of Education

School Transition Centers provide a safe and stable foundation for all students, particularly newly arrived military-dependent students, offering peer-to-peer mentoring to help students acclimate into their school community.

“Transition Centers provide tremendous support to new students as well as instilling leadership skills for student mentors,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’re grateful for this partnership that allows us to not only expand this program, but fulfill one of our goals in our Strategic Plan in helping as many students and families as possible.”

HIDOE will commit $250,000 annually for four years using federal Impact Aid funds towards school Transition Center facility improvements, technology, furnishings and special events.  Program partners at the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Council and the Hawaii Business Roundtable will provide matching funds each year to be managed by the Hawaii 3Rs Special Fund.

“Hawaii 3R’s is pleased to partner with the Hawaii Department of Education to develop transition centers that will help students assimilate into an unfamiliar environment,” said Hawaii 3Rs Board Chairman Alan Oshima. “By easing them into the rhythm of a new school and campus, learning can become the priority.”

U.S. Rep. Takai’s conscientious work was essential in securing tens of millions in federal Impact Aid funding every year that goes to all public schools

“In working on this initiative there was no question that the effort would be in honor of our friend Mark Takai who was fiercely committed to public education and his service to our nation,” added Superintendent Matayoshi.

“Transition Centers provide tremendous support to new students as well as instilling leadership skills for student mentors,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. Photo Credit: Department of Education

Transition Centers are rooted at public schools with higher populations of military-dependent students, such as Radford High, Leilehua High, Mokapu Elementary and many more.  The success of these Transition Centers will be expanded to serve more students at other schools across the state.

Future transition centers that benefit from this effort will be known as a “Takai Transition Center” and will feature the following pledge.

Future transition centers that benefit from this effort will be known as a “Takai Transition Center” and will feature a pledge welcoming all transitioning students and recognizing military-connected students and their families. Photo Credit: Department of Education

As a member of the K. Mark Takai Transition Center Network, we:

  • Understand the challenges that are an inherent part of matriculating into a new and unfamiliar school environment;
  • Welcome all students transitioning into our school, including military-connected students, and will support and sustain them throughout their time in our school community;
  • Recognize and honor our military personnel for the contributions and sacrifices they make for our defense and the preservation of our rights, and the sacrifices of our military families to support them;
  • Value the added richness and experience that students from varied cultural and social backgrounds bring to our school community; and
  • Commit to providing high-quality supports through dedicated resources via the establishment and sustained operation of a transition center on our school campus.

Schools interested in establishing a new Transition Center or upgrading existing Transition Center facilities should contact HIDOE Military Liaison Cherry Okahara at cherry_okahara@hawaiidoe.org.

Hawaii Governor Signs Heat Abatement Bill to Expedite Cooling Public School Classrooms

Gov. David Ige signed HB 957 (Act 57) – authorizing the Department of Education to borrow money, interest-free, from the Hawai‘i Green Infrastructure Loan Program for heat abatement measures in Hawai‘i’s public school classrooms.

This will expedite the cooling of classrooms across the state while decreasing energy usage and electricity costs.

“I ordered the cooling of 1,000 public school classrooms about a year and a half ago. The state and the DOE have worked very hard to achieve this goal. Although the process hasn’t always been easy and it has taken more time than we would have liked, I am happy to say that we expect to have 1,000 classrooms cooled off by the end of August,” said Gov. David Ige.

The DOE is expecting significant decreases in energy use and electricity costs. The use of LED indoor lighting in public school classrooms is expected to result in a $4 million drop in energy costs annually. Such reductions in energy consumption and the lowering of the kilowatt load may enable the installation of AC units in classrooms without expensive and time consuming electrical upgrades.

The governor’s Cool the Schools initiative and the DOE’s Heat Abatement program have resulted in:

  • The installation of 456 classroom air conditioning units
  • The installation of 201 photovoltaic AC units
  • The distribution of 402 portable AC units to the hottest classrooms across the state
  • Ordering of 1,062 AC units

In addition, 461 portable classrooms have been covered with heat reflective material; trees have been planted to shade buildings and minimize heat; awnings have been installed on at least four buildings; ceiling fans have been installed in 139 classrooms; and large diameter fans are being installed in cafeteria dining rooms.

“A big mahalo to our state legislators for their support of our efforts to cool the schools. Thank you also to the DOE for its hard work and for helping us to achieve our goal of creating a learning environment in which our students and teachers can thrive,” Ige said.

Hawaii Island Students Win $20,000 in Scholarships

Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union (HCFCU) is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2017 College Scholarships. A total of $20,000 was awarded to eight deserving Hawaii Island recipients. Seven of the scholarships were awarded to high school graduates planning to attend a two- or four-year institution of higher learning in the coming school year, and one of the scholarships was awarded to a recipient who is continuing her education post-high school graduation. The scholarships are named after a retired HCFCU employee and community volunteers who made important contributions to the HCFCU.

Aaliyah Kamalii-Keka of Pahoa Intermediate and High School

  • The $2,500 Mitsugi Inaba Scholarship was awarded to Aaliyah Kamalii-Keka of Pahoa Intermediate and High School who intends to pursue studies in Nursing and Hawaiian Language.
  • The $2,500 Peter T. Hirata Scholarship was awarded to Andre Fazeli. The Konawaena High School graduate intends to pursue a career in Mechanical Engineering.

Kamehameha Schools Graduate Shariah Mae Olomua

  • Shariah Mae Olomua, a Kamehameha Schools Hawai graduate, was awarded the $2,500 Albert Akana Scholarship. Olomua’s career goal is to study Business and Law.
  • The $2,500 Katsumasa Tomita Scholarship was presented to Danielle Brown. The Hilo High School graduate intends to become a Professional Writer.
  • Lois Taylor, a graduate of Kealakehe High School, is the recipient of the $2,500 Frank Ishii Scholarship. Taylor will be studying Environmental Biology
  • Gabriella Boyle, a graduate of Kohala High School, was awarded the $2,500 Student Credit Union Scholarship. Boyle intends to pursue a career in Psychology.
  • The $2,500 John Y. Iwane Scholarship was awarded to Hailey Briseno who graduated from Hawaii Preparatory Academy. Hailey intends to pursue a career in Ecosystem and Marine Sciences.
  • Sarah Rouse of Wheaton College is the very first winner of our new $2,500 Yasunori Deguchi Scholarship. The scholarship is offered to high school graduates who could not attend college right after graduation or are currently in their second year of college and in need of further financial assistance.

Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit credit union owned by it’s 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 Island programs and events. Membership in Hawaii community Federal Credit Union is open to all Hawaii Island residents. For more information visit www.hicommfcu.com.

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 17-Year-Old Kona Girl

6/22/17 UPDATE:  Hawai`i Island police have located 17-year-old Leilani Alvarado of Kailua-Kona, who was reported missing.  She was found unharmed on the island of Kauai on Thursday morning (June 21).

Hawai`i Island police are searching for a 17-year-old girl who was reported missing.

Leilani Alvarado was last seen in Kailua-Kona on (May 3)

Leilani Alvarado

She is described as Caucasian, 4-feet-11-inches, 95-pounds with brown hair with red highlights, and brown eyes.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribe to any Caller ID Service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Hawai‘i Electric Light Company Supports Ku‘ikahi School Mediation Program

The non-profit Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center received a $1,500 grant from Hawai‘i Electric Light Company to support its East Hawai‘i Peer Mediation Elementary School Program.  The program brings conflict resolution and prevention skills to students, developing peacemakers in East Hawai‘i schools.

“I have learned as a Peer Mediator to let the students solve their own problems and not be rude and disrespectful.  I improved my communication and behavior by not interrupting conversations and to be patient when people are talking,” said fifth grader Caleilah-Estelle Ahyee.  “I am proud to be a Peer Mediator because I can make the world better.”

Keonepoko Elementary School fifth grader Caleilah-Estelle Ahyee in school year 2016-2017

During the 2016-2017 school year, 42 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders were trained on how to mediate disputes among students at Kapiolani and Keonepoko elementary schools.  In the coming school year, Mountain View will also participate.

“We appreciate Hawai‘i Electric Light’s ongoing commitment to working with local charities and other non-profit organizations toward a vision of a better Hawai‘i,” said Ku‘ikahi Executive Director Julie Mitchell.

“Peer mediation directly contributes to Hawai‘i Electric Light’s focus on community programs aimed at promoting educational excellence.  Our East Hawai‘i Peer Mediation Program helps keiki reach their full potential,” Mitchell stated.

Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center’s mission is to empower people to come together–to talk and to listen, to explore options, and to find their own best solutions.  To achieve this mission, Ku‘ikahi offers mediation, facilitation, and training to strengthen the ability of diverse individuals and groups to resolve interpersonal conflicts and community issues.  For more information, call Ku‘ikahi at 935-7844 or visit www.hawaiimediation.org.

Board Unanimously Approves Hawaii ESSA Plan for Submission

The Hawaii Department of Education Board of Education (BOE) unanimously approved the submission of the Hawaii Consolidated State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA Plan) to the U.S. Department of Education. The plan will be submitted following a 30-day opportunity for Governor David Ige to sign it.

“We appreciate the many meetings and valuable input that led up to today’s Board action,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “This decision is one step forward in greatly helping our administrators who are now tasked with implementing the plan in time for the 2017-18 school year, which starts as early as two weeks for some of our schools.”

The ESSA Plan serves as Hawaii’s application for federal funds, providing resources for our schools to support students in achieving equity and excellence. The plan takes advantage of flexibility by leading with the state’s aspirations, goals and plans as described in the Governor’s Blueprint for Public Education and the joint Strategic Plan.

In testimony submitted by Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani Complex Area administrators, praised the process of developing the plan stating, “Ongoing participation for input and feedback via surveys and face-to-face meetings were provided to learn more about the direction of our Department. We understand that the ESSA plan aligns with our State Strategic Plan and provides overarching guidance while leaving discretion to the schools to determine customized priorities and needs of our community.”

Since January 2016, the Hawaii State Department of Education sought input from educational communities to inform development of the ESSA Plan. Engagement included:

  • 230 meetings to share information and gather feedback with legislative leaders, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, school leaders, the Hawaii State Student Council, and more;
  • 35 presentations and 450 pieces of testimony considered by the BOE; and
  • 458 online survey submissions providing feedback as part of a public comment period.

In his letter of support for the ESSA Plan, Governor Ige noted, “The past year has been unprecedented in the engagement of our statewide community in the development of our education blueprint, strategic plan, and state plan for ESSA. My heartfelt thanks goes out to all teachers, administrators, and community members who submitted testimony and provided input into this plan.”

For more information about the ESSA Plan, click here. To view today’s BOE presentation, click here.

Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui Earns LEED Platinum Status for Sustainable Campus Design

The Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui (Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui) campus has earned a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, the highest rating possible in the sustainable building program.

Photos by Andrew Richard Hara

“Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui is committed to being a community leader in West Hawai‘i in the areas of science, culture and conservation,” said Director of Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui Dr. Marty Fletcher. “By designing a campus to achieve the highest possible rating in the LEED sustainable building program we are demonstrating our commitment to those principles.”

University of Hawai‘i President David Lassner said, “Congratulations and thanks to our entire team for certifying another LEED Platinum building at UH. The University of Hawaiʻi stands firmly committed to addressing the challenges of climate change and achieving our sustainability goals across our operations, education, scholarship, cultural connections and community engagement.”

Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui is the West Hawai‘i campus of Hawai‘i Community College with over 500 students enrolled during the past academic year in programs such as Liberal Arts, Digital Media Arts, Hospitality and Tourism, and more. The first phase of Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui was completed in August 2015 and includes 24,000 square feet of learning space comprised of classrooms, culinary arts kitchens, science labs and more.

The campus earned the LEED Platinum rating by incorporating numerous sustainable design elements in the facility. This includes on-site photovoltaics for electricity; efficient use of water, including a “living machine” natural wastewater recycling system; certified sustainable wood; low-emitting paints and adhesives; and much more.

The campus was designed by Honolulu-based architecture firm Urban Works. In 2016 the design won a Renaissance Building & Remodeling Grand Award for new commercial construction from the Building Industry Association of Hawai‘i.

This is the second Hawai‘i CC building to earn a LEED rating. Hale Aloha on the Manono campus in Hilo earned a LEED Gold rating for a renovation project that incorporated many sustainable design features such as a green roof and use of recycled materials.

Students interested in enrolling at Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui for the fall 2017 semester can visit hawaii.hawaii.edu/palamanui or call 969-8816. The deadline to apply is August 1.

Department of Health – Lead Tests Can Give False Results, Advises Parents About Re-Testing Their Children

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) recommends parents with children less than 6 years old who had a venous blood lead test drawn before May 17, 2017 consult with their health care provider to determine whether their child should be retested. This advisory does not apply if the child was tested with a finger or heel stick. Additionally, pregnant women and nursing mothers who had a venous blood lead test before May 17, 2017 should consult a health care provider about retesting.

In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning about Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare® analyzers used by some Hawaii laboratories. Magellan blood lead tests on blood drawn from a vein may provide falsely low results. The warning does not apply to capillary blood test results collected by finger stick or heel stick.When the warning was issued, DOH contacted local independent testing laboratories using Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare® analyzers. The DOH also contacted the chief medical officers of all health care facilities statewide. Working closely with laboratories throughout the state, and as more information became available, it was determined that a substantial number of children’s test results in Hawaii may have been affected. At this time, the exact number of inaccurate blood lead test results received within the state is not known.

“It’s very important to identify children who may have been exposed to lead” said DOH Director, Dr. Virginia Pressler. “The faulty test underestimates low blood lead levels and even low levels of lead exposure may cause adverse health effects such as learning and behavior problems in young children. If your child was tested for lead with blood drawn from a vein from 2014 to May 17, 2017, please contact your health care provider to discuss the need for retesting.”

For further questions on lead exposure contact the Hawaii Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Information on the national safety alert is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/about/blood_lead_test_safety_alert.html

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Opening Session of the 2017 World Youth Congress

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) addressed hundreds of young leaders from Hawaiʻi and around the globe at the opening session of the 2017 World Youth Congress today. Inspired by the Worldwide Voyage of Hōkūleʻa, the 2017 World Youth Congress will be addressing issues from the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress and exploring the theme “Reconnecting to our Ancestral Roots to build Sustainable Communities.”

In her remarks, the congresswoman spoke about how successful examples of sustainability throughout history, like the ahupuaʻa system developed by the Native Hawaiians, can continue to inspire policies and communities worldwide today. She also encouraged the delegates of the World Youth Congress and other attendees to continue the mission of the Hōkūleʻa—Mālama Honua—by finding ways to care for each other and the planet in their daily lives.

Addressing the delegates, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Our ancestors taught us basic principles of sustainability and conservation—replenishing what we take, putting need over greed, and giving back to our home. These lessons gifted to us throughout history are just as timely and relevant now as ever before, and they must frame our path in the future.”

Background: Yesterday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard attended the Hōkūleʻa Homecoming Ceremony and Celebration at Magic Island, where she joined thousands of families, students, educators, sustainability organizations, ocean conservationists, voyaging waʻa groups, residents and visitors from around the world in welcoming the Hōkūleʻa, her sister Hikianalia, and their crew home to Hawaiʻi. The congresswoman will return to Washington, DC on Monday, June 19 for votes in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hawaii Department of Education Makes Progress with Energy Efficient Strategies for Cooling Schools

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) has been working to fast track heat-relief initiatives through its Heat Abatement Program. During the last three years, schools across the state were evaluated for various cooling options including air conditioning (AC), ceiling fans, nighttime heat flushing fans, solar light, trees, heat reflective paint, and more.

Phase II of the Heat Abatement program is already underway with an emphasis on implementing passive cooling projects. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“The department has made every effort to find solutions to cooling our classrooms in ways that are not only cost-efficient but also energy efficient,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Our Heat Abatement program includes long-term plans for our schools as well as addressing the high-priority classrooms quickly. We want to thank the legislature for funding this effort to accomplish this goal.”

The Department has made significant upgrades to lower temperatures in many of the classrooms at Campbell High including an awning installation over O Building’s courtyard. Photo Credit: MK Think

In 2016, Governor David Ige signed Act 47, which appropriated $100 million to fund equipment and installation costs for AC and other cooling measures. Progress from the department’s Heat Abatement program in conjunction with the Governor’s Cool Classrooms initiative includes:

  • 456 classroom AC units have been installed;
  • 1,062 AC units have been ordered;
  • 1,062 units are out to bid;
  • 201 photovoltaic AC units installed; and
  • 402 portable AC units were distributed to the hottest classrooms statewide.

Phase II of the Heat Abatement program is already underway with an emphasis on implementing passive cooling projects. To date, the following projects have been completed:

  • 461 portable classrooms have been covered with heat reflective material;
  • Trees planted at numerous campuses;
  • 4 buildings have installed or are currently installing awnings;
  • 139 classrooms had ceiling fans installed; in addition, large diameter fans are being installed in cafeteria dining rooms.

“Despite a few setbacks, which included high bid prices due to Hawaii’s construction; the department has worked diligently to come up with solutions that have kept our heat abatement efforts moving forward. Our push for better prices has allowed us to cool more classrooms,” added Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson.

Duane Kashiwai, public works administrator, shares what HIDOE has been doing to fast track heat-relief initiatives through its Heat Abatement Program. Photo Credit: Department of Education

At James Campbell High School (JCHS), third on the heat abatement priority list, the Department has made significant upgrades to lower temperatures in many of the classrooms. The completed and ongoing improvements include:

  • Installation of new tinted windows;
  • Air conditioning;
  • Nighttime heat flushing fans;
  • Ceiling fans;
  • Progress in the awning installation over O Building’s courtyard;
  • Solar AC and battery units for the portable classrooms;
  • Upcoming fan installation in the cafeteria; and
  • Covered walkways project that will begin early next year.

JCHS is also undergoing other facility renovations and construction from a 30-classroom building currently in the design phase to restroom renovations in O and D buildings, and new portables and reroofing on I Building.

“We have seen a positive change in the campus culture because of these facility improvements,” shared Principal Jon Henry Lee. “The school community recognizes the investment the legislature and department have made towards enhancing the academic experience at our school, and we look forward to seeing the excitement of our students and staff when they return in August.”

For more information about HIDOE’s Heat Abatement program and continued updates about projects going on statewide, click here. A cost breakdown of the AC projects is available here.

Parker School Receives Seven-Year Accreditation

Parker School is pleased to announce that it has received a seven-year accreditation term from the Western Association of Colleges and Schools (WASC) and the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools (HAIS). This is the longest term the accrediting body awards, and Parker School’s third full-term award since its original accreditation.

In a comprehensive report on the state of the school, the accreditation team noted, “Above all, what has always made Parker a special school is its nurturing of what we call `ohana.  This connection between students, teachers, staff, families, and administrators colors every moment of every day at Parker School and is continuously renewed through the graduations of confident, well-rounded, college-ready seniors and the admission of new children.  As it celebrates its 40th Anniversary, Parker School thrives as a more directed, energetic learning environment than ever before in its history.”

Parker School five-member accreditation team was comprised of representatives from academic institutions throughout the state:  Edna Hussey (Lower School Principal, Mid-Pacific Institute), Nina Buchanan (Professor Emerita, UH-Hilo), Kathleen Hogarty (Director of Development, Seabury Hall), Cristy Peeren (Elementary Department Head, Island School), and Dory Shigematsu (Curriculum & Assessment Coordinator, Kamehameha Schools Keaau).

“We were impressed with the team and their tireless efforts in a thorough accreditation study and visit,” said Carl Sturges, Parker School’s Headmaster. “We are thrilled that Parker has been recognized again by WASC and HAIS in receiving this full, seven-year accreditation. The process was invaluable as it motivated us to look carefully at the current state of the school, celebrate our accomplishments and identify areas for growth as we plan for the future.”

Accreditation certifies to colleges, universities and the general public that the school is a trustworthy institution of learning, and that it provides the quality of education promised in its mission and values. Accreditation serves as independent validation of the integrity of the school’s program and the value of a Parker School diploma.

Hawai‘iʻs Child Well-Being 17th in Latest National Rankings

Economic conditions may finally be improving, and families continue to offer a strong foundation for Hawaiʻi’s children, according to the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Data Book, which examines trends in child well-being during the post-recession years, found that Hawaiʻi now ranks 23 in child economic well-being, and 17 for child well-being overall.

“We’re seeing a steady decrease in the number of children living in families where the parents lack secure employment,” says Ivette Rodriguez Stern, the Hawaiʻi KIDS COUNT project director at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Center on the Family. “As parental employment improves, we begin to see improvements in other indicators of economic well-being.”

The rate of children living in households with a high housing cost burden—defined as a household spending more than 30 percent or more of income on housing—is one indicator that has steadily improved, decreasing from 46 percent in 2010 to 38 percent in 2015. However, Hawaiʻi still has among the worst housing cost burden rates in the nation, ranking 46th for this indicator.

“High housing costs remain a significant challenge in our state. When families spend so much of their income on housing, they have fewer resources to meet other basic needs. We all—including government and the private sector—need to come together to build more affordable housing in Hawaiʻi,” said Nicole Woo, senior policy analyst at the Hawaiʻi Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice.

Despite some improvements on individual indicators, Hawaiʻi is lagging in the education domain, ranking 36th. Although there have been some improvements in reading and math proficiency, Hawaiʻi’s children are still below national proficiency rates and more than half of 3- and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in preschool programs.

“Access to high-quality, affordable child care and preschool must remain a priority in our state,” said Barbara DeBaryshe, interim director of the UH Center on the Family. “Strong programs support school readiness and give an extra boost to children facing the difficult odds of poverty or family hardship. Sadly, we simply do not have enough child care seats in our state, especially for infants and toddlers. We need policy incentives that allow providers to serve more children, give families more assistance paying for care and help more programs reach quality benchmarks. Investments in our keiki now will have large payoffs in the future.”

Significant Hawaiʻi findings

The annual KIDS COUNT Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains that represent what children need most to thrive. Findings for Hawaiʻi include the following:

  • Three of four economic indicators—the percentage of children whose parents lack secure employment, children in households with a high housing cost burden, and teens not in school and not working—have improved since the release of the 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book. The percentage of children living in poverty has failed to improve past 2010 levels and returned to 14 percent in 2015.
  • There were improvements in three of the four indicators in the education domain compared to 2010 data—reading and math proficiency and the percentage of high schoolers graduating on time—however, the percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds not in preschool increased by 18 percent from 2010 to 2015.
  • With only 2 percent of our children lacking health insurance coverage, Hawaiʻi continues to lead the nation in health, ranking eighth in this domain. This represents a 50 percent decrease in the percentage of kids without insurance compared to 2010.
  • Hawaiʻi is also doing well in the family and community context, ranking 10th in this domain. The teen birth rate has continued an impressive decline of 36 percent since 2010, and we have fewer children living in high poverty neighborhoods in 2015 than in 2010.

Besides emphasizing investments in early childhood education programs, with the Data Book, the Annie E. Casey Foundation demonstrates the need for protecting health insurance coverage for children and expanding programs that create economic stability for families at the state and federal levels.

“We’ve done well in making sure that our children have health insurance coverage. However, health care reforms that limit federal funds coming to our state for Medicaid or that allow insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions will threaten the well-being of our most vulnerable children and youth. We must continue to work hard at all levels to make sure that coverage is not jeopardized,” said Stern.

Woo adds, “On a positive note, this year the Legislature approved a state earned income tax credit (EITC). Unfortunately, the state credit is non-refundable, which will limit tax refunds available to families when the amount of their EITC is larger than what they owe in state income tax. Nevertheless, this is a great start and represents breakthrough legislation that supports low-income families and children in our state.”

Older Women in Hawaii are 57% More Likely to Live in Poverty Than Older Men

A new analysis finds that Social Security benefits are especially crucial for older women in Hawaiʻi, who are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to have access to assets or savings in retirement. The report, released by the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, is a first in examining more closely the economic status of older adults in Hawaiʻi by gender and race/ethnicity.

Just over nine percent (9.1 percent) of older women in Hawaiʻi live in poverty, compared with 5.8 percent of older men. Single older women in Hawaiʻi, however, are three times more likely than married older women to be living in poverty (13.0 percent and 4.1 percent poverty rates, respectively). The majority of older women in Hawaiʻi are single, while the majority of older men are married. There are also differences by race/ethnicity: Rates of pension coverage are highest among older Japanese women and lowest among older Filipinas, and rates of marriage also vary, with Filipinas most likely and Native Hawaiian women least likely to be married.

Dr. Colette Browne

“Many of the economic challenges that older women experience stem from inequities that women face earlier in life, including a persistent wage gap, the high cost of child care and a shortage of affordable housing. This builds up over the course of a lifetime and limits women’s ability to lay the foundation for economic security in retirement, especially for the many older single women living without a spouse,” said Dr. Colette Browne, the Richard S. and T. Rose Takasaki Endowed Professor in Social Policy at the School of Social Work and author of the report’s recommendations.

The paper finds that Social Security is the most common source of income for both older men and women in Hawaiʻi, and is especially crucial for women. In Hawaiʻi, nearly 40 percent (39.4 percent) of older women’s annual income is from Social Security, compared with 29 percent of older men’s. Still, Social Security benefits received by older women in Hawaiʻi total about 80 percent of the amount older men receive ($12,000, compared with $15,158).

Older men have greater access to pensions, retirement savings and asset income than older women. Nearly half (47 percent) of older men receive income from a pension or retirement savings plan, compared with just over a third (35.5 percent) of older women in the state. Even for those with a pension or retirement savings plan, women’s median annual income is about 60 percent of men’s ($12,596 compared with $21,344).

The report concludes with recommendations for Hawaiʻi policymakers to focus on strategies and programs that alleviate age-, gender- and race-based inequalities and poverty across the lifespan.

Strategies to address inequity and support the health, educational and employment aspirations of women of every age in Hawaiʻi, coupled with policies that support women with child and elder caregiving responsibilities, such as paid sick days, paid family leave and an affordable and secure long-term care funding mechanism, would bolster women’s financial security throughout their life course and especially in their later years.

“Today’s younger woman is tomorrow’s older woman, so improving the economic status of older women in Hawaiʻi must start with addressing inequality at school, work and home,” said Browne. “But, we must also pay attention to the needs of older women today, and this means honoring women’s contributions to family and community, protecting Social Security and committing ourselves to funding for health and long-term care if and when disabilities occur.

The findings are presented in a paper by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work funded the analysis and authored the paper’s recommendations through the school’s Takasaki Endowment.

For more information, visit: https://iwpr.org/publications/economic-security-older-women-men-hawaii/

Man Who Gave Native Bird its Hawaiian Name Given Citizen Conservationist Award

During a ceremony at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park today, Noah Gomes was honored with the second DLNR Citizen Conservationist award. Gomes, a park ranger is known here as someone who perpetuates Hawaiian culture in his interactions with visitors and always demonstrates the spirit of Aloha.

As a graduate student at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Gomes conducted painstaking research in an effort to find the historical name for the endangered Hawai‘i Creeper. He pored through hundreds of pages of old Hawaiian newspapers and reviewed virtually every bit of literature he could find on the traditional name of the tiny forest bird.  In his thesis, which was published in the ‘Elepaio Journal, Gomes posited that the customary name of the Hawaiian Creeper is ‘Alawī.  This convinced the Hawaiian Lexicon Committee to approve the name.  The committee, established in 1987, approves the creation of words for concepts and material culture, unknown to Hawaiian ancestors.

DLNR First Deputy Director Kekoa Kaluhiwa presented the award to Gomes.  He said, “As a graduate student, Noah chose to research and review major literature on native Hawaiian birds by important authors in the late 19th and early 20th century to try and find a specific Hawaiian name for the Hawaii Creeper.  For more than a century there was no known Hawaiian name for this endangered bird.” In a statement read during today’s award ceremony Kaluhiwa added, “We are grateful for Noah’s efforts and hereby present him with a DLNR Citizen Conservationist Award, for his efforts to preserve our Native Hawaiian cultural heritage; in a time when birds like the ‘Alawī are endangered and even on the brink of extinction. His efforts help us all recognize not only the ecological importance of the ‘Alawī, but also the role it plays in our lives and those of our ancestors.

On May 31, 2017, during a naming ceremony for the ‘Alawī at the Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve, not far from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Gomes did the blessing and led an ‘awa ceremony in honor of the bird’s naming. In remarks after he received his award Gomes explained, “This joined my life-long love of birds with my passion for Hawaiian culture and our language. I’m thrilled and honored to have been involved in the naming of the ‘Alawī.”

Alex Wang, (pronounced Wong) a bird specialist with the DLNR Natural Area Reserve program, and a Gomes’ friend commented, “Noah has such a deep sense of place and appreciation for native Hawaiian culture and what it represents to everyone, Hawaiian or not, living in these islands today.  He truly personifies the very best traits associated with the people of our host culture. In addition to what I expect will be many notable accomplishment in his future, he will be known in the history books as the person who named the ‘Alawī. and as Noah said how many of us are fortunate enough to marry a childhood fascination with a professional contribution to science and culture.”

The DLNR Citizen Conservationist Award program was established in early 2017 to recognize people in the community who go above and beyond to assist the department in fulfilling its mission of protecting the natural and cultural resources of Hawai‘i nei.

Applications Being Accepted for Youth Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Training

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Mānowai O Hanakahi program is currently accepting applications for its Youth Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Training course, to be held in Hilo Monday-Friday, June 26 – 30, from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at a location to be announced.

Hawaiʻi Island youth age 15 and above are encouraged to apply. Applicants interested in marine health, stewardship and related marine careers will be given special consideration. The application deadline is Friday, June 23.

The course is made possible through funding from the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Education and Training Mini Grant program.

For session information and an application, visit: http://stem.hilo.hawaii.edu/manowai, call 933-0707, or email hperry@hawaii.edu.

Senators Schatz, Whitehouse, Warren and Markey Call Out Climate Denial Materials Sent to Teachers In Hawaii and Across the Country

U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) wrote to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos yesterday to highlight misleading science materials sent by the Heartland Institute, a group with a long record of climate denial, to more than 300,000 public school science teachers in Hawai‘i and across the country.

Heartland’s 11-minute DVD and 135-page book, which are made to look like typical curriculum materials for science teachers, are explicitly designed to call into question the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. Among other claims, they push teachers to “consider the possibility” that climate science is not settled and “students would be better served by letting them know a vibrant debate is taking place among scientists.”

“The Heartland Institute has disseminated ‘alternative facts’ and fake science at the behest of its industry funders for decades,” the senators wrote. “In the 1990s, it teamed up with Phillip Morris to challenge facts about the health risks of tobacco. The tobacco industry’s conduct was found to be fraudulent. Using the same strategies, with funding from the Koch family foundations, ExxonMobil, and other fossil fuel interests, the Heartland Institute now seeks to undermine the scientific consensus about climate change.”

The senators ask whether DeVos and her staff have had any contact with the Heartland Institute on science education. They also inquire whether the Department is working with Heartland in any capacity. DeVos has a history of donating to industry-funded front groups and just last week applauded President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“It is our sincere hope that neither White House staff nor Department of Education officials have turned to the Heartland Institute on the issues of climate change and climate science, or had any roll in this mailing to educators,” wrote the senators. “At your nomination hearing, you were asked whether you would stand on the side of students or with the political entities trying to force junk science into schools. You responded that you ‘support the teaching of great science and especially science that allows students to exercise critical thinking and to really discover and examine in new ways.’ We agree that ‘great science’ and critical thinking are cornerstones of a high-quality education, but that is not achieved with Heartland’s industry-funded and possibly fraudulent materials.”

Click to read full letter

Hawaii Board of Education Names Interim Education Leadership

The Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) today announced its appointment of Keith Hayashi as interim superintendent.  Hayashi is currently the deputy superintendent at the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) until the end of June 30, 2017. In July, he will serve as superintendent for a month-long interim basis.

L to R: Keith Hayashi, Dr. Christina Kishimoto, Amy Kunz. Photo Credit: Department of Education

The interim deputy superintendent during this transition period will be current senior assistant superintendent, Amy Kunz.

“I want to thank Keith and Amy for ensuring continuity of operations through their interim appointments until the new superintendent starts in August,” said BOE Chairman Lance Mizumoto. “Both leaders understand the work at hand and will be assisting Dr. Kishimoto as she makes her transition to head the Department.”

Current Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi will end her term on June 30 after serving in the position since 2010. Last month, the BOE announced its selection of Christina Kishimoto, Ed.D.  as the next HIDOE superintendent. Kishimoto’s official start date is Aug. 1, 2017.

Kishimoto is currently transitioning out of her position as superintendent for the Gilbert Public School district in Arizona. She is in Hawaii this week to meet briefly with board members and HIDOE staff.

“I realize this is a critical time and I want to thank Superintendent Matayoshi and her team for bringing me up to speed as we work towards a smooth transition,” stated Kishimoto. “I’m grateful for the time and diligence of all those who want to ensure that I can hit the ground running.”

Hayashi is a former complex area superintendent and has served as principal at Waipahu High School since 2009. In February 2017 he was appointed deputy superintendent. He plans to return to Waipahu High at the conclusion of his interim appointment.

Kunz was appointed in 2011 as assistant superintendent of the office of fiscal services and chief financial officer. In 2014, she was appointed to senior assistant superintendent to oversee the additional offices of information technology services, human resources and school facilities and support services.

14,105 Pounds of Donations Saved From Trash During Student Housing Move-Out

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Student Housing Services managed to gather more than 14,105 pounds of items for donation during the weekend of residence hall move-out at the end of spring 2017 semester.

Nicole Chatterson (right) and Eunice Yamada led student efforts to divert 45 mini-fridges from the landfill.

Students and staff juggled commencement and the end-of-semester move out rush to donate 9,554 pounds of clothes and 4,551 pounds of miscellaneous items to the Boys and Girls Club and the Kidney Foundation.

In addition to these items, the UH Office of Sustainability teamed up with the Surfrider UH Club to rescue 45 abandoned mini-fridges from the waste stream. These mini-fridges will be offered to incoming student residents in fall 2017.

“I never thought I’d be making the effort to recycling anything larger than plastic bottles until I realized refrigerators were being abandoned,” said Erika Peralta, Co-Chair of the Surfrider UH Club. “Not only did I consider the accumulation of waste, but I also thought about how we might help relieve some pressure on student budgets by facilitating the re-use of these mini-fridges.”

“While there is a lot of effort put into making move-out sustainable, it’s not yet a zero-waste system,” said David Akana, associate director of student housing services. “Residence hall dumpsters around this time of year are overflowing with quality, re-usable goods ranging from hydro-flasks, to fans, to kitchen utensils. We’re excited to partner with students to do even better with our waste diversion and reduction efforts next year.”

“Some of the waste reduction challenges faced in student housing, such as the need for outreach campaigns focused on waste minimization and system design, are experienced elsewhere on campus,” said Nicole Chatterson, UH Office of Sustainability student coordinator. “If we can pilot and refine effective systems with SHS, we will be better prepared to address systemic waste issues and move UH towards zero-waste practices.”

Reef Fish Sustainability Off West Hawaiʻi Island

Jennifer Wong-Ala, a 2017 spring graduate from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Global Environmental Science (GES) degree program, conducted original research to determine how biological and physical factors affect the number of fish surviving to sustain populations of reef fish off West Hawaiʻi Island.

Jennifer Wong-Ala

Adult reef fish, like yellow tang, release eggs strategically—in places where the eggs can be swept into the open ocean to live out their free-floating larval stage and develop until they are ready to come back to the reef. This process of successfully returning home, termed recruitment, can be influenced by many physical factors including ocean currents, as well as biological strategies such as when and where fish larvae are born and how long the fish remain in the free-floating larval stage.

To explore the influence of these factors, Wong-Ala and her mentor, oceanography assistant professor Anna Neuheimer, developed a computer model which accounted for date of birth, location of birth, movement of larvae, duration of the free-floating larval stage, development, settlement and death of larval reef fish off of Hawaiʻi Island.

Their study found that recruitment changed depending on the fish’s birthdate due to influences of the currents, eddies and moon phase (i.e. tides). Additionally, location of birth mattered, with individuals born in shallow and sheltered bays having higher rates of recruitment compared to individuals born in unsheltered locations under certain conditions.

“This study provides a baseline understanding of how biophysical factors interact to impact recruitment in western Hawaiʻi Island,” said Wong-Ala.

The information can be used to explain species-specific variation in recruitment from year to year and predict possible changes in the future. Understanding the amount of fish that make it back to the reef is important for maintaining sustainable reef fish populations.

Following her passion with supportive mentors

“I chose GES because it is an interdisciplinary major that allows us to learn about the changes in the environment, gain valuable computer skills, and focus on what we are truly interested [in],” said Wong-Ala, who was born and raised in Waimānalo, Oʻahu. “My favorite aspect of my thesis experience is the relationship that developed with my mentor. I have worked in her lab for three years and it has been an experience that has taught me so much. I hope to be a mentor like her in the future.”

A graduate of Kapiʻolani Community College, Wong-Ala became interested in environmental science through the KCC-School of Ocean, Earth, Science and Technology summer bridge program. She was invited to participate in UH Mānoa’s School of Ocean, Earth, Science and Technology. Anela Choy, Wong-Ala’s mentor, co-founded the Maile program along with Barbara Bruno and Keolani Noa. The program helps student thrive through individualized mentoring and peer support.

Having graduated last Saturday, Wong-Ala is preparing to enter a graduate program at Oregon State University in Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Attorney General Doug Chin and Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director Steve Levins Demand U.S. DOE Help Hawaii Students Victimized by For-Profit Schools

Attorney General Doug Chin and Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director Steve Levins joined 18 other state attorneys general in demanding that the U.S. Department of Education end long delays in its program to cancel federal student loans for thousands of students in Hawaii victimized by predatory for-profit colleges.Former Corinthian Colleges Inc. students are experiencing delays in review and approval of their loan cancelation applications. About 27,000 students nationwide who have already been approved for loan forgiveness have yet to see their loans discharged. Some students are nearing the end of 12-month forbearances on their loans, and face restarting monthly payments on debts that should be canceled.

Attorney General Chin said, “Students here in Hawaii have already been hurt by these for-profit colleges. The federal government should be protecting them promptly.”

In a letter sent yesterday to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Chin urged the U.S. Department of Education to review the mounting applications and work to timely finalize the discharge of loans where forgiveness has already been approved. The letter was joined by 19 state attorneys general.

The letter presses DeVos to provide information on what the department is doing to rectify the growing backlog of applications, and to provide a timeframe for discharge of the student debt. In addition, since the U.S. Department of Education has already determined that these students are eligible for loan forgiveness, the letter urges DeVos to abandon the application process and automatically discharge all eligible loans.

After intense scrutiny by various government entities, for-profit Corinthian Colleges abruptly ceased operations in 2015. Corinthian owned and operated Heald College campuses in Hawaii.

The U.S. Department of Education found that while it was operating, Corinthian made widespread misrepresentations between 2010 and 2014 about post-graduation employment rates for certain programs at its campuses.

About 2,474 residents who attended programs at Corinthian schools received a letter in April explaining that they are eligible for streamlined federal student loan cancelation based on the U.S. Department of Education’s findings. The students were directed to fill out a short application for the U.S. Department of Education.

The Hawaii students were notified as part of a bipartisan effort by 47 attorneys general across the country to inform more than 100,000 former Corinthian students that they are eligible for streamlined loan cancelation.

“Relieving these hard-working Americans of their fraud-induced student debt will free them to participate more fully in their local economies, or even continue their educations with reputable schools,” the letter explains.