Hawaii Public Radio Wins Three Edward R. Murrow Awards

The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) has announced its regional 2014 Edward R. Murrow Awards, and Hawaii Public Radio has won in three categories. The entire newsroom won for “Best News Series” for “Feeding Ourselves: Hawaii ’s Food Future,” which included contributions from reporters on Oahu , Hawaii Island and Molokai . Reporter Molly Solomon won for “Best Breaking News” for her coverage of the molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor . Solomon also won in the “Feature Reporting” category for her piece “ Hawaii ’s Brain Drain,” done as part of the HPR News series “Neighbors.”

Regional Winners

“We are honored to receive recognition in this prestigious competition,” said HPR News Director Bill Dorman. “The work of our local news team is part of what is made possible by the generous support of our station members.” HPR CEO and General Manager Michael Titterton added “The commitment to quality journalism is an important and continuing piece of what we are at Hawaii Public Radio, and this recognition of the team’s accomplishments is gratifying.”

The RTDNA website says “the awards recognize the best electronic journalism produced by radio, television and online news organizations around the world.” The organization also noted that there were a record number of entries for this year’s awards, “in what proved to be one of the most competitive Edward R. Murrow Awards seasons in RTDNA history.” They are named for the broadcast news pioneer and longtime CBS news correspondent, legendary for both his radio and television coverage.   “The Murrow Awards honor journalism at its finest,” added Mike Cavender, Executive Director of RTDNA. “Local newsrooms serve their communities 365 days a year, and we’re proud to recognize the great work they do.”

All regional winners automatically advance to the national Edward R. Murrow Awards competition, which will be judged in May and presented in October.

Hawaii Public Radio can be heard throughout the state.  On Hawaii Island, HPR 1 is over the air in West Hawaii at 90.7 f.m. in Waimea at 94.7 fm, and in East Hawaii at 91.1 fm, and on Oceanic Cablevision 864.  HPR 2 is over the air in West Hawaii at 88.7 fm and at 89.7 fm, in Pahala at 91.7 fm, and on Oceanic Cablevision 865.  HPR 2 should be available over the air in East Hawaii by the end of the year.  Both stations are also online at www.hawaiipublicradio.org

Pacific Islands Climate Science Center Head to Speak at UH Hilo

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo hosts a seminar featuring David Helweg, director of the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center (PICSC), on Wednesday, April 23 at noon in Room 118 of the Science and Technology Building. The event is free and open to the public.

David Helweg

David Helweg

Helweg’s talk, entitled Vision and Framework of Science at the Department of Interior: Pacific Islands Climate Science Center, focuses on the Center and its efforts in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region. PICSC, hosted by a consortium of the University of Hawaiʻi and the University of Guam, was launched in 2012 as one of eight regional Climate Science Centers (CSCs) set up by the Department of Interior to complement and work with a national network of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives to address challenges of climate change.

PICSC, in partnership with the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC), works with Federal, State and other entities to deliver scientific research and interpretation to support management of natural and cultural resources. PICSC’s vision is to inform and support sustainability and climate adaptation of human and ecological communities in the Pacific.

For more information, call 933-0759 or email ziegler@hawaii.edu.

UH Hilo Student Awarded Space Internship

A University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo student has been selected for NASA’s prestigious Sally Ride Internship.

Melissa Adams. (Photo courtesy of PISCES)

Melissa Adams. (Photo courtesy of PISCES)

Melissa Adams, a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Geology, was among a select group chosen for the program, which awards only 10 internships during the spring and fall semesters of each school year.

The Sally Ride Internship was established in 2013 to encourage more students from underserved backgrounds to pursue a research interest at one of NASA’s centers nationwide and eventually enter careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The program named after the first American woman in space provides students the opportunity to work side-by-side with practicing scientists and engineers.

Adams, a native Hawaiian, was awarded the internship for joint research she conducted with Jacobs/NASA Scientist Trevor Graff and John Hamilton, logistics and EPO manager for the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES). The trio employed satellite imagery to identify specific geologic properties contained in basaltic lava located on Mauna Kea. For Adams, a former PISCES intern, her selection is a dream come true that took a while to sink in.

“I am so busy with school work that the news about getting the internship did not phase me at first,” Adams explained. “But one evening in the middle of the night, I awoke out of a deep sleep, startled, and said to myself, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be working at NASA this summer.’ I still cannot believe it.”

The 10-week internship begins in May and will reunite her with Graff and fellow NASA Scientist Dr. Richard Morris, who will serve as her mentors at the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. Their research will involve a chemical analysis of the analog samples collected in Hawaiʻi, with the findings used to support various robotic missions to Mars.

Adams will prepare samples, conduct instrumental analysis and assist with data analysis and interpretations using some of the most sophisticated instrumented research techniques, including Visible Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, X-Ray Diffraction, Optical/Digital Microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy.

“To think of where I was two years ago and what I have done since then makes me feel so blessed,” Adams said. “I am so grateful for the people that have been instrumental in helping me get this opportunity. To them I say my warmest mahalo nui loa!”

Grassroot Institute ‘Celebrates’ Hawaii’s Tax Freedom Day

In an effort to help Hawaii’s citizens better understand the state tax burden, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is wishing them all a “Happy Tax Freedom Day” today via social media.

Tax Freedom Day
Based on calculations by theTax Foundation, Tax Freedom Day is the day when taxpayers have collectively earned enough to satisfy the tax bill for that year. In other words, for the average Hawaii citizen, if he or she had dedicated every penny of their earnings to their tax bill from the beginning of the year, then today (April 15th) would be the day that bill would be “paid off.”

Hawaii ranks in the middle of the pack for state Tax Freedom Days. Louisiana has the lowest burden (their Tax Freedom Day was March 30th), while Connecticut and New Jersey are the highest (May 9th). The National Tax Freedom Day (using figures from the country as a whole) is on April 21st, three days later than last year–which reflects the slow economic recovery. (As a point of comparison, consider that Tax Freedom Day in the year 1900 would have fallen on January 22nd.)

“Hawaii’s economic recovery has a lot to do with our better-than-average performance,” stated Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “However, we’ve taken a small step backward and should be wary of policies that will increase the tax burden and slow our economic growth.”

“Most people don’t realize just how hard and long they work to pay their tax bill,” Dr. Akina continued. “We hope that this helps put that into perspective and encourages taxpayers to demand greater fiscal responsibility and accountability from the government and their elected officials.”

Big Island Police Participating in National “Take-Back Initiative”

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is encouraging the public to participate in a nationwide prescription drug take-back initiative being sponsored in Hawaiʻi by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the state Department of the Attorney General and the Department of Public Safety.
take backOn Saturday, April 26, members of the public may turn in unused, unneeded or expired prescription medications between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the following collection sites for safe, anonymous disposal:

Komohana Medical Center Complex (upper parking lot)
670 Komohana Street
Hilo

Kona police station parking lot
74-611 Hale Makaʻi Place
Kailua-Kona

Tablets, capsules and all other solid dosage forms will be accepted. Intravenous solutions, injectables and syringes will not be accepted.

Illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative.

Having unused and expired medicine in your home increases the risk of prescription drug abuse and accidental poisoning. Proper disposal also helps reduce the risk of prescription drugs entering a human water supply or potentially harming aquatic life.

For more information about the drug take-back program, visit www.dea.gov.

Commentary – Bureau of Interior Wants To Control New Development in North Kona

I’m deeply concerned about the actions of the National Park Service and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These federal agencies intend to control how much new development happens in North Kona it seems.

For example, the National Park Service wants the State of Hawaii to designate the Keauhou aquifer as a water resource management area and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to assign nearly 19,000 acres of land in North Kona as a critical habitat area.  In addition, the
National Park Service was the first entity to intervene in the stalled Queen Kaahumanu Highway phase 2 widening project’s section 106 process in early 2011.

These requests, if approved, will impact all new developments in North Kona. It strips home rule authority from the County of Hawaii and adds an additional layer of bureaucracy to the entitlement process.

I firmly believe the County and State of Hawaii are in a better position to manage our resources than a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington D.C.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

News Video: Big Island Farmer Exposed as Predator – He Adopted Kids, Molested Them

News crew traces him to Florida, where he lives in hiding.  Hawaii “window” law allows victims to sue for justice, Victims speak out about abuse.

In a breaking international news video, a Big Island farmer is found living in hiding in Florida, after his victims in Hawaii came forward to sue him for child sexual abuse.
Jay Ram and three boys he adopted.

Jay Ram and three boys he adopted.

 The full video will be available online on Monday.
The video, produced by VICE NEWS out of New York, tells the story of former Hakalau farmer Jay Ram, who adopted dozens of boys in California and Hawaii. He then used the boys for sex and slave labor. Ram has been featured in numerous print stories in Hilo. http://westhawaiitoday.com/news/local-news/former-hakalau-sex-abuse-suspect-located-florida
The boys were able to sue Ram for abuse because of a landmark Hawaii “window” law that allows victims of child sex abuse to use the civil courts for justice, no matter when the abuse occurred. The law expires on April 24.
Members of SNAP worked with the victims to help expose Ram and encourage other victims and witnesses to come forward.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to Present Public Lecture at UH Mānoa

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Sea Grant College Program and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D- Hawai‘i) announced today that former U.S. Vice President Al Gore will present a free public lecture at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa campus on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, at 7 p.m. in the Stan Sheriff Center.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore

The seminar is the capstone of the day-long summit, Ascent, organized by UH and Senator Schatz, which will welcome notable dignitaries from around the country to Hawai‘i in order to discuss and propose solutions to Hawai‘i’s most pressing problems. The topics include renewable energy, sustainable energy and water use, and the impacts of human practice and climate change on the essential resources.

Vice President Gore, known for his visionary leadership and decades of work on reducing the harmful impacts of climate change, will be sharing his insight on these and related topics and how they relate to Hawai‘i.

“We are very fortunate that former Vice President Gore will be in Hawai‘i to address an issue that is very important to our university and community,” said UHM Chancellor Tom Apple. “We hope the discussion about sustainability and climate change have a lasting impact and will push Hawai‘i into the global arena.”

“Vice President Gore has been a true friend and ally in the climate change fight. He is a leading voice on clean energy and I am honored he is joining us to discuss Hawai‘i’s future,” said Senator Brian Schatz, Chairman of the Senate Water and Power Energy Subcommittee. “Our state has charted a path forward for a clean energy economy and served as a model for the rest of the country. We need to continue to promote the development of clean energy, which will make Hawai‘i more sustainable and self-sufficient.”

“I am continually impressed by Hawai‘i’s innovative thinking, from clean energy to water to transit,” said Vice President Gore. “Through his work as chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Water and Power subcommittee, Senator Schatz is proving himself as a committed leader for our country while simultaneously shining a light on Hawai‘i’s achievements as a national leader on clean energy, sustainability, and climate adaptation.”

The seminar is part of the Stephen and Marylyn Pauley Seminar in Sustainability series, organized by the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program and co-hosted by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the University of Hawai‘i Foundation, and other partners, which periodically hosts speakers of the highest distinction. The University’s most prestigious seminar series honors the Pauley Foundation’s significant support of the University of Hawai‘i, Dr. Stephen Pauley’s remarkable individual sustainability efforts, and Mrs. Marylyn Pauley’s national and visionary leadership in higher education.

Stephen and Marylyn Pauley Seminars in Sustainability are only offered when a particularly significant, timely and critical issue and notable speaker are identified. Seminar topics are diverse with academic, social, cultural, and economic importance. To date the seminars have included light pollution, human health and community design, energy independence and climate change, and fiscal sustainability.

The free seminar is co-hosted by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Sea Grant College Program, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Chancellor’s Office, and the University of Hawai‘i Foundation. It will be held at the Stan Sheriff Center which can accommodate approximately 10,000 people.

Hawaii Teacher Survey Results Regarding Educator Effectiveness System

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) and the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) recently conducted a joint survey regarding the Educator Effectiveness System (EES), which was implemented statewide at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year. The purpose of the joint survey was to gather teacher feedback on their experiences and opinions regarding the EES to help better understand its strengths and identify areas for improvement.

DOE ReleaseFunded by the Castle Foundation and conducted by Ward Research Inc., the online survey was sent to the HSTA’s 13,500 teacher members, 4,280 (30%) of which completed the survey between the Feb. 25 and March 11 survey period. Respondents represented all districts and types of teachers. This level of response provides a maximum sampling error of only +/- 1.3 percent.

Results from the survey indicate varying degrees in understanding the EES and provide a good starting point in better identifying areas for improvement. Key survey findings include:

  • One in five respondents indicated high levels of understanding of the EES (18% rating ‘top three’ box or 8-10 where 10 = completely understand) while a comparable proportion indicated low levels of understanding of the EES (20% rating ‘bottom three’ box or 1-3 where 1 = do not understand at all)
  • Classroom Observations reflected the highest levels of reported understanding (36%) and the Hawaii Student Growth Model the lowest (12%)
  • One in five respondents indicated strong agreement (‘top three’ box or 8-10 rating where 10 = strongly agree) that they have applied the EES information towards improving their professional practice (18%), their instructional practice (18%), and toward improving student growth and learning (18%)
  • An emerging theme identified in the survey was providing teachers more time to prepare for the various requirements within the components, more guidance and clarity, and providing examples of successful stories by distinguished teachers.

“The Department of Education is actively engaged in an ongoing data review process that involves working with teachers, principals and other groups,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “The EES is intended to provide timely, actionable and professional feedback, and support to improve teacher practice and student outcomes. We’re grateful to the teachers and various groups who are ensuring that the system fairly assesses the effectiveness of educators. This survey will be used as part of a collective process to help better understand strengths and identify areas for improvement.”

“The HSTA’s goal is to make sure that every child in Hawaii has access to the best teachers in our public school system,” said Wil Okabe, HSTA president. “When we started this process, we agreed that the Joint Committee of DOE and HSTA representatives would gather data and feedback from our members in order to implement collaborative adjustments and improvements to the EES.”

“The joint survey reflected what we have been hearing from teachers. That the EES is a work in progress, and teachers feel that more needs to be done so that the EES can help improve the practice of teaching. Our teachers clearly expressed the need for more time to implement the EES, more guidance, and more clarity of the expectations and process,” said Okabe.

“We are committed to the EES and will continue to collaborate with the DOE to improve this system and develop a fair and effective resource that should be designed to, ultimately, improve our educational system for Hawaii’s students,” added Okabe.

The committee has met four times over the last nine months and provided areas of potential recommendations to Superintendent Matayoshi, including:

  • Improving support for implementation (e.g. training structure, educator engagement strategy)
  • Solutions for new teachers (e.g. personnel consequences for SY 13-14 first-year teachers, differentiating evaluation criteria for first and second year teachers)
  • Supporting structures for teachers based on EES feedback and results (e.g. searchable database for teachers to find quality professional development opportunities based on area of need)
  • Transitioning between student assessments (impact on student growth as the state shifts from the Hawaii State Assessments, to the bridge assessments, and Smarter Balanced Assessments)
  • Differentiating frequency of evaluation components within the annual evaluation cycle, based on the needs of teachers
  • Reviewing scoring methodology for the Tripod student perception survey
  • Monitoring the use of multiple measures.

The Joint Committee is one of several feedback groups the DOE relies upon for structured input about EES. Other groups include the Teacher Leader Workgroup and Technical Advisory Group and a newly established Principal Workgroup.

“The survey results reinforce priority issues that are being discussed by the Joint Committee and raise some additional concerns for further discussion,” noted Matayoshi. “Teachers, administrators and the HSTA are all involved in this process, and this is just the beginning.”

The DOE and HSTA are committed to working together to improve the EES and teacher feedback is an important part of the improvement process. Following the first full year of implementation, the DOE will make any design improvements necessary based on reviews of data and consideration of feedback from the field.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Praises Hawaii’s Education Leadership

Hawaii’s public schools can be a model for the nation, according to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who visited two schools today before returning to Washington, D.C. Secretary Duncan, Governor Neil Abercrombie and Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi spoke with media in reflecting on the progress made during the last three years based on the Race to the Top (RTTT) federal education reform grant.

 Secretary Duncan with Keith Hayashi, Supt, Matayoshi, Gov. Abercrombie in Waipahu HS aquaponics lab


Secretary Duncan with Keith Hayashi, Supt, Matayoshi, Gov. Abercrombie in Waipahu HS aquaponics lab.

“When we first did the RTTT grant, there was a huge amount of skepticism in the outside world, and frankly, internally,” stated Secretary Duncan. “Hawaii initially had its challenges; they’ve shown amazing leadership, courage and vision. I can’t overstate how important the Governor’s leadership has been…the leadership of the State Superintendent…they are a profile in courage. The only way you get better is to challenge the status quo. The only way to accelerate the rate of change is to do something different. The progress has been extraordinary. Hawaii by any objective measure – is one of the fastest improving states in the nation – top five states, that’s top 10 percent in the nation.”

Ka Waihona student (newly accepted to Kamehameha) explains kalo to Secretary Duncan

Ka Waihona student (newly accepted to Kamehameha) explains kalo to Secretary Duncan

Secretary Duncan began the day at Ka Waihona o ka Naauao, a public charter school in Nanakuli, where he learned how to pound taro (paiai) and participated in a discussion about culture-based education with stakeholders and Kirin Ahuja, the U.S. DOE’s executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Secretary Duncan pounds kalo

Secretary Duncan pounds kalo

Secretary Duncan then visited Waipahu High where he participated in a Hawaii DOE and Hawaii State Teachers Association joint-committee meeting followed by a tour of the school with Gov. Abercrombie and Supt. Matayoshi.

Supt. Matayoshi and WHS students greet Secretary Duncan.

Supt. Matayoshi and WHS students greet Secretary Duncan.

Waipahu High is the second-largest high school in Hawaii with 2,450 students. About 70 percent of its students are of Filipino ancestry, while nearly 6 out of 10 students come from economically disadvantage backgrounds. Waipahu High Principal Keith Hayashi, who was appointed in 2009, has led a tremendous academic turnaround at the school. Reading proficiency among 10th graders rose to 69 percent in 2013 from 58 percent in 2011, while math proficiency jumped to 47 percent from 26 percent. College-going rate increased to 58 percent from 49 percent during the same period.

“We are proud to share the passion of what we do here at Waipahu with Secretary Duncan,” Principal Hayashi said.

Secretary Duncan with Andrea Gurado, WHS student with full ride to Columbia University, looking at her science project exploring synthesizing molecules.

Secretary Duncan with Andrea Gurado, WHS student with full ride to Columbia University, looking at her science project exploring synthesizing molecules.

One of the students who enjoyed lunch with Secretary Duncan at Waipahu was Andrea Jurado, who recently accepted a full scholarship from Columbia University. She arrived to the islands just four years ago from her native Philippines, and since then, she has taken advantage of opportunities that have helped her excel during her four years at Waipahu. She’s participated in internships with the University of Hawaii Cancer Research Center and the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories in Livermore, Calif. She will also represent Hawaii at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, Calif., which is the largest science and engineering fair for high school students from around the globe.

“Waipahu is very focused on students succeeding in post-secondary life,” said Supt. Matayoshi. “The school has a great early college program, and great opportunities for students to succeed. We’re very happy that Secretary Duncan can see the fantastic work being done here by our faculty, teachers, and students.”

“I ask anybody in the state, before you make a judgment about the public schools, see what’s been accomplished in the last three years. By any outside observation, Hawaii public schools are rising, and we’re going to keep on rising,” added Governor Abercrombie.

Principal Sheena Alaiasa of Castle High in Kaneohe was one of the educators selected to meet with Secretary Duncan during his visit. As head of King Intermediate last year, Alaiasa was named the 2014 National Middle Level Principal of the Year by MetLife and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

“It’s great for Hawaii as a whole for the U.S. DOE to see what we’re doing,” said Principal Alaiasa. “It means a lot to our students for them to meet and greet someone of such importance.”

Hawaii is the 50th and final state to welcome Secretary Duncan during his tenure. Prior to this visit, the last U.S. education secretary to visit the islands was Richard W. Riley in 1994 under President Bill Clinton. The last federal education official to visit Hawaii was Martha Kanter, U.S. Department of Education under secretary of education, who spoke at a September 2010 higher education summit in Waikiki. Also, in December 2009, Peter Cunningham, assistant secretary for communications and outreach for the U.S. Department of Education, visited several island schools.

Rules for Protests at Hawaii State Capitol Challenged as Unconstitutional in Federal Court

A federal lawsuit against the State Department of Accounting and General Services (“DAGS”) charges that outdated rules restricting public use of State property (including the Hawaii State Capitol rotunda and grounds) violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs for the lawsuit are the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii (“ACLU”) and Pamela G. Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Action Group and ACLU board member. They are represented by Daniel M.Gluck, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU and Alexandra Rosenblatt of Chun Kerr, LLLC.

capital

Public access to grounds and rotunda, noted in the run-up to 2011 APEC meeting, now an issue for upcoming ASEAN meeting, April 1-2.

The lawsuit asks the court to require DAGS to remove burdensome requirements for obtaining a permit – including requirements that small groups have to get the government’s permission before holding a protest; that individuals have to agree to indemnify the State for any injuries arising from their protest (even if the injuries are caused by the protesters’ opponents); and that individuals or groups apply for a permit  weeks in advance (with no exception for spontaneous demonstrations in response to sudden events or news).

The ACLU informed DAGS of these problems over three and a half years ago (more than a year before the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting). The ACLU continued to inform the State of these problems through 2011, 2012, and 2013, but the State has neither changed its rules nor issued any new policies to correct these problems.

The ACLU has assisted several groups in navigating the unlawful permit process, but does not know how many other individuals or groups have been deterred from holding a demonstration because of DAGS’ unconstitutional rules. Honolulu now plans to host Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and defense ministers of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations April 1-2, and the ACLU hopes that this lawsuit will ensure that any individuals or groups that want to demonstrate on State property during the ASEAN Conference (or any other matter) are able to do so.

Daniel M. Gluck said: “After three years of being rebuffed by DAGS and the Attorney General?s office to resolve these issues administratively, it’s clear that the State won’t take any action without being sued.  We need to ensure that the free speech rights of all people are respected and protected, particularly on state grounds such as the Capitol, to show that our government is open, transparent, and participatory.”

Alexandra Rosenblatt said: “Current permitting practices could prevent people from gathering around a legislative measure or breaking community crisis. The State requires a fourteen day lead time for permits, yet legislative hearings only have a 2-3 day lead time. The State also requires that permit holders waive all claims against the state as a condition of exercising their first amendment rights. DAGS has made exceptions, but the absence of consistent, objective standards raises a concern that groups could be treated differently based on the content of their speech. When it comes to our government and state capitol there is no room for opaque rules that hinder community voices from being heard.”

The ACLU’s First Amendment Toolkit is a free guide for those considering demonstrations at the Hawaii State Capitol, or at parks, beaches, sidewalks and more statewide.

Kona Residents Win American Culinary Federation Western Regional Awards

Kona residents Jean Hull and Ken Love were recently recognized by The American Culinary Federation (ACF) Western Region at the ACF conference in Oakland, Calif. Both are members of the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Association.

Ken Love and Jean Hull

Ken Love and Jean Hull

Jean Hull, CCE, AAC of Hospitality Consulting by Jean received the President’s Medallion, which is awarded to members who exemplify culinary excellence and leadership and have contributed their expertise to the advancement of the culinary profession. The Kailua-Kona resident is a long-time champion of culinary arts on the Big Island, serving as Associate Professor of Culinary Arts at HawCC-West Hawaii for over 14 years.

Hull spearheads annual Kona Kohala Chefs fundraisers and programs, including the award-winning Chef and Child initiative that teaches West Hawaii second graders how to make nutritious food choices. She has been the driving force behind the continuing Equip the Kitchens campaign for the future Hawaii Community College (HawCC)-Palamanui campus.

Ken Love, executive director of Master Food Preservers and the statewide Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers, received the Cutting Edge Award, which taps members who provide exemplarily leadership and service to the culinary profession.

The Captain Cook resident is a long-time, outspoken advocate for the use of locally grown food. He serves as an ongoing educational resource for farmers to create value added products and in 2012-13 spearheaded a statewide exotic fruit series in 16 locations to teach grocers, chefs and consumers the benefits of 11 little-used fruits. His educational outreach went global after appearing in the 2012 feature documentary film, “The Fruit Hunters.”

In addition to Hawaii, regional winners hailed from the West Coast, Arizona, Nevada and the Philippines. The ACF Western Region has 29 chapters and named five Cutting Edge and six President’s Medallions recipients this year. The ACF is the industry leader in offering educational resources, training, apprenticeship and accreditation to enhance the professional growth of all chefs.

American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association

ACF is the largest, professional, non-profit organization for chefs and cooks in the nation. Founded in 1980, the Kona Kohala chapter is comprised of food service professionals, vendors, growers and culinary enthusiasts. Membership is open and the group meets the first week of the month during lunch at changing restaurants.  www.konakohalachefs.org.

 

Big Island Student Wins 2014 Hawaii State Spelling Bee… “P-L-A-N-G-E-N-C-Y””

Christianne Abella, an eighth grader at Konawaena Middle School on Hawaii Island, emerged as the 2014 champion of the aio Hawaii State Spelling Bee at PBS Hawaii Saturday night.

Christianne Abella

Christianne Abella

Christianne will represent Hawaii in the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. May 25-31. The national bee is televised live on ESPN.

Christianne’s winning word was “plangency” – the quality of a loud, resounding sound.

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawaii President and CEO; Christianne Abella, 2014 aio Hawaii State Spelling Bee Champion; Susan Eichor, aio President and Chief Operating Officer

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawaii President and CEO; Christianne Abella, 2014 aio Hawaii State Spelling Bee Champion; Susan Eichor, aio President and Chief Operating Officer

Runner-up Hope Kudo, another eighth grader from Hawaii Island, represented Kealakehe Intermediate School. She and Christianne were this year’s Hawaii Island co-champions.

The other 12 contestants were:

  1. Fred Adella of Waimea Canyon Middle School, Grade 6 – Kauai
  2. Kelly Brown of Ewa Makai Middle School, Grade 8 – Leeward Oahu
  3. John Griffin of Our Savior Lutheran School, Grade 6 – Central Oahu
  4. Susan Hasegawa of Iolani School, Grade 8 – Honolulu
  5. Katherine Hui of Iolani School, Grade 8 – Honolulu
  6. Reanna Inafuku of Hawaii Baptist Academy, Grade 7 – Windward Oahu
  7. Alisha Maake of Iroquois Point Elementary School, Grade 5 – Leeward Oahu
  8. Leila Nelson of Kapaa Middle School, Grade 7 – Kauai
  9. Nic Sarji of Aikahi Elementary School, Grade 5 – Windward Oahu
  10. Ameera Waterford of Emmanuel Lutheran School, Grade 6 – Maui
  11. Amalie Yach of Holy Family Catholic Academy, Grade 8 – Central Oahu
  12. Paul Yamane of Kamalii Elementary School, Grade 4 – Maui

Pahoa High and Intermediate to Participate in New Reading and Math Tests

Approximately 25,000 Hawaii public school students will practice taking improved and more engaging annual state tests meant to better gauge their progress toward college and career readiness.

DOE ReleaseStudents in grades 3-8 and 11 at 91 schools statewide will participate in the field test of the new Smarter Balanced assessments in English language arts and mathematics between March 24 and June 6. The field test is a practice run of the Smarter Balanced assessments, which will replace the Hawaii State Reading and Mathematics Assessments in the 2014-15 school year.

Hawaii is a governing member of a multi-state consortium that has worked with teachers, parents and higher education faculty in the past two years to develop the Smarter Balanced assessments. Over three million students across the consortium will participate in the field test to ensure questions are valid, reliable and fair for all students. A small sample of students in grades 9 and 10 will also take the field test as part of a small study.

Students will complete the online test in either English language arts or mathematics, or both. Administered over multiple days, the tests are untimed, but each subject area is expected to take 2.5 to 4 hours to complete. Because questions may be revised or dropped after the field test, students will not receive scores.

Click to view

Click to view

The field test includes questions with the same features that students will experience in the 2014-15 school year, when Smarter Balanced assessments become operational, including accessibility tools for all students and accommodations – such as Braille – for those who need them. The work of Smarter Balanced is guided by the belief that a high-quality assessment system can provide information and tools for teachers and schools to improve instruction and help all students succeed – regardless of disability, language, or background. Additional information is available on the Smarter Balanced website: http://www.smarterbalanced.org.

About the Smarter Balanced Assessment System
The Smarter Balanced Assessment System is a key component of the Hawaii State Board and Department of Education’s Strategic Plan to prepare all students for college and career success. The new tests are aligned to the Hawaii Common Core Standards, a set of consistent expectations for what students should know and be able to do at each grade in order to graduate equipped with essential critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

Over the past two years, the consortium has worked with K-12 teachers and higher education faculty from across member states, as well as national experts, to develop, review and test over 20,000 assessment questions and performance tasks and to build a digital library of instructional and professional development resources for teachers.

Once launched in the 2014-15 school year, the Smarter Balanced Assessment System will also provide information during the year to give teachers and parents a better picture of where students are thriving and where they need help.

“This is a step forward in our plans to raise student achievement,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.” This comprehensive assessment system will provide meaningful information on student progress to educators, parents and the community. Not only will relevant and innovative test items engage and support students, but teachers will also benefit from actionable data and tools to help them maximize the impact of classroom instruction on learning.”

New Videos Released for Great Alaska Quake 50th Anniversary

The U.S. Geological Survey has released two new videos about the Great Alaska Earthquake of March 27, 1964 to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the largest earthquake ever recorded in the United States.

The videos include rare vintage film footage and photos of the earthquake damage, combined with modern interviews with some of the same scientists who first investigated the magnitude 9.2 quake. They tell the story about the scientific discovery that was a significant early contribution to the now widely-accepted theory of plate tectonics.

The two videos, a four-minute, and an 11-minute version of the same story, feature USGS Geologist Emeritus George Plafker who was one of the first geologists on the scene 50 years ago to assess the damage and help with plans for rebuilding. Today, Plafker is still conducting geologic research to better understand the ground response and what the severity of shaking may be during the next big earthquake in Alaska. While the probability of a repeat earthquake of the same magnitude is very low, even a smaller quake of magnitude 7 or 8 can do a significant amount of damage. Plafker’s and other scientists’ research contributes to the safety and resiliency of Alaska communities to future large quakes.

“This is an incredible story. We’ve got great old film footage, revolutionary science and some remarkable geologists who’ve really made a difference,” said USGS video producer Stephen M. Wessells. “It’s been exciting to learn how two generations of scientists have sorted out the details and clarified the threats.”

While examining modern sediment cores drilled in Alaska and brought into the laboratory, Plafker reminisces about his first impressions on the scene immediately after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. His current research is helping scientists understand how frequently earthquakes of that size have occurred in the past. Carbon dating the layers in the core sample, reveals the past 5000 years of prehistory, and gives Plafker a clue about the potential of future activity or occurrences of similar events.

As the anniversary approaches, many educational and historic public events are planned. Check the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami 50th Anniversary website for an up to date schedule and additional resources

Hawaii State Department of Education’s Continued Race to the Top Progress Shows Extraordinary Growth

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is receiving high praise from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) for its efforts in implementing key reforms such as the Educator Effectiveness System, professional development on the Hawaii Common Core and work to support its most needy schools. This comes with Year 3 Race to the Top (RTTT) report released this evening.

DOE Release“Over the last few years, we have seen Race to the Top states build on the systems and framework that they have been developing to lay the foundation for long-term, sustainable progress,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Hawaii has made key steps in implementing its plans, developing great teachers and leaders, and in improving students’ outcomes. As Hawaii completes the third year of implementing its Race to the Top grant, it has continued to demonstrate leadership in education reform.”

During a call with media before the report’s release Secretary Duncan stated: “When we originally gave (Hawaii) the RTTT grant, lots of folks doubted our judgment there, and said there was no way they could be successful. They initially struggled…a lot of people didn’t think they could succeed, and they’ve shown amazing leadership in a relatively short amount of time…they’ve made huge progress.”

Governor Neil Abercrombie welcomed the news. “The U.S. Department of Education’s recognition of Hawaii’s progress highlights our commitment to transform public education,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “We are proud of the hard work and dedication of our principals, teachers, staff and students. Hawaii has proven that no matter how great the challenge, we can pull together to make sure Hawaii’s keiki have the opportunities they need to succeed.”

Among Hawaii’s highlights as noted in the report, which documents efforts from Sept. 2012 – Sept. 2013:

  • Improved scores on national benchmarks and access to more rigorous course work and resources like AP classes. Specifically, “The Nation’s 2013 Report Card” by the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) where Hawaii’s fourth- and eighth-graders proved to be among the nation’s leaders when it comes to improved progress in mathematics and reading achievement. Last year also marked the first time Hawaii’s fourth-graders surpassed the national average in mathematics.
  • Progress in initiatives related to supporting teachers in leaders in Year 3, primarily due to the ratified contract with the Hawaii State Teachers Association in April 2013, allowing the implementation of the Educator Effectiveness System (EES) design and implementation.
  • Continued support and training for educators statewide as we transitioned to new college-and career-readiness standards: Hawaii’s Common Core.
  • Extensive supports the DOE has put in place to turn around low-achieving schools, particularly those in the Zones of School Innovation (ZSI), where community partners have played a key role in ensuring success. They include the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Kamehameha Schools, AT&T, Hawaii 3R’s, Hawaiian Electric Industries and the Hawaii Business Roundtable.

“The third-year report is a testament to the remarkable efforts of our educators in meeting elevated expectations,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “As we head into the final months of the grant, we continue our commitment to put into place systems and practices that will keep our students successful in college, careers and community long after the grant ends. Race to the Top was an important step in the transformation of our public school system and we are staying the course.”

In speaking with education reporters Tuesday morning, Ann Whalen of the USDOE’s Office of the Deputy Secretary commented: “Shout out to Hawaii – this time last year was on high risk, and over the past year has absolutely demonstrated amazing progress. (Hawaii) is one of our rising stars and one of the states we’re really watching as those with promising practices within the field.”

In August 2010, the USDOE awarded Hawaii with a four-year, $75 million RTTT grant. The following year, Hawaii was placed on high-risk status. In February 2013, the USDOE removed Hawaii’s high-risk status in two of five areas. These areas addressed education reform in the areas of standards and assessments (area B); and data systems (area C). In July 2013, the USDOE lifted the high-risk label for the entire grant, including three additional areas: system alignment and performance monitoring (area A); great teachers, great leaders (area D); and turning around persistently low-achieving schools (area E).

The Year 3 RTTT Hawaii Report also noted challenges for the state’s final year, which included transition to standards, building better data systems, and improving teacher effectiveness.

“We are already tackling these challenges and are holding ourselves accountable, not just for Race to the Top but because these are areas of focus in our Board of Education and DOE joint Strategic Plan,” said Matayoshi.

Resources from Hawaii’s Year 3 RTTT report:

Kailua Intermediate’s Ryan Kagami Wins National ‘Teacher of Promise’ Award – Keaau High Teacher Nominated

Kailua Intermediate teacher Ryan Kagami believes that in order for students to understand the world of science, they must become part of it.

Kagami, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science, was honored this morning as the National Milken Educators of Hawaii ‘Teacher of Promise.’ The award annually recognizes a teacher who demonstrates excellence in the field and the highest qualities of a professional educator during the first four semesters in the classroom. Established in 2007, the award alternates annually between elementary and secondary teachers.

'Teacher of Promise' Ryan Kagami of Kailua Intermediate

‘Teacher of Promise’ Ryan Kagami of Kailua Intermediate

Shortly after Kagami received a plaque and $1,000 through a sponsorship from HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union during a school assembly, he quickly joined students in a nearby beach cleanup – not surprising for an educator who sets an example for hands-on learning.

“Ryan is an exceptional educator who promotes instruction that inspires students to become active citizens of the world as they participate in scientific thinking, solve problems and prepare for college,” said Kailua Intermediate Principal Lisa DeLong. “In Ryan’s classes, science concepts become relevant because students find practical applications all around them.”

To make his lessons come alive, Kagami wrote and received grants to fund a classroom aquaponics system. The miniature lab draws students’ interest in complex topics such as water and nitrogen cycles, plant biology, fish anatomy, and the role microbial communities play in the earth’s ecosystem and humans.

Kagami is currently partnering with parents, local businesses, community leaders and military neighbors to submit a Repair, Remodel, Restore Our Schools (3Rs) grant to build and house a larger structure on the campus.

A team player, Kagami collaborates and plans regularly with fellow science teachers. This past summer, for example, they met to develop pacing guides aligned with the Hawaii Common Core State Standards – a new set of consistent expectations for what students should know and be able to do at each grade to graduate college and career ready.

The group once participated in an afterschool ghost walk in which they visited classrooms with no students present to see how well each teacher was using the classroom environment – such as posting student work with feedback – to support student learning.

Kagami was also a catalyst in launching the Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, program at Kailua Intermediate. This school year, the home of the Jr. Surfriders fully implemented AVID, which promotes college readiness and high expectations.

Kagami began teaching at Kailua Intermediate in January 2012. The Castle High graduate earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a master’s degree in secondary education from Chaminade University.

From left to right: Cary Miyashiro, marketing representative for Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union, Kailua Intermediate 'Teacher of Promise' Ryan Kagami, along with past National Milken Educators from Hawaii, Catherine Payne ('95), Estelle Wong ('99) and Ellen Schroeder ('97).

From left to right: Cary Miyashiro, marketing representative for Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union, Kailua Intermediate ‘Teacher of Promise’ Ryan Kagami, along with past National Milken Educators from Hawaii, Catherine Payne (’95), Estelle Wong (’99) and Ellen Schroeder (’97).

The National Milken Educators of Hawaii (NMEH) committee members who selected Kagami for the award are all past recipients of the National Milken Educator Award. Presenting today’s award were former Milken Educators Catherine Payne (‘95), Estelle Wong (‘99) and Ellen Schroeder (‘97).

In addition to Kagami, four other Hawaii public school teachers nominated for the ‘Teacher of Promise’ award were recognized earlier in the year. They include Nathan Pontious (Kauai High), Christian Simoy (Aiea High), Christopher Ho (Keaau High) and Tricia Dong (Waianae Intermediate)

Hawaii Community College Student Named New Century Scholar

Hawaiʻi Community College student Edward Bufil has been named the 2014 Coca-Cola New Century Scholar for the state of Hawaiʻi. Bufil was one of 51 community college students from the United States, Canada and American Samoa to receive the award from a pool of more than 1,700 nominees.

Edward Bufil

Edward Bufil

Each New Century Scholar will receive a $2,000 scholarship and be honored at the American Association of College Presidents Convention in Washington, D.C.

Bufil is a student in Hawaiʻi CC’s Tropical Forest Ecosystem and Agroforestry Management (Forest TEAM) program and is vice president of the Forest TEAM Club.

He has participated in many service-learning projects related to conservation and reforestation, including planting native species in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge. As a student employee with the U.S. Forest Service, he also assisted with research on biological control of invasive species.

Bufil, who aspires to be a park ranger, plans to graduate from Hawaiʻi CC in May with his associate in science from the Forest TEAM program as well as an environmental studies academic subject certificate and will continue his education at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

 

Kirkland Signature Sliced Fruit Recalled from Costco for Potential Salmonella

Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc. of Albany, OR has voluntarily recalled 59,780 cases of Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit, produced exclusively for Costco Wholesale Stores. In cooperation with Costco, the company issued the recall after determining the product has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

kirkland-sliced-fruit-406Precautionary recall measures began on Saturday, March 8, 2014. Consumers who may have purchased the product were contacted by phone and US. Mail, and a letter regarding the voluntary recall was posted on the Costco website. Furthermore, the affected product was removed from Costco floors.

The company says that any Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit that is currently available for purchase has been tested and is safe for consumption. No other products made by Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc. are affected.

Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit is sold in a red and white case containing 20 pouches of freeze-dried snacks. Consumers who have purchased Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit with the following “Best Before Dates,” listed on the upper left corner of the front panel of the case, are urged to return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Best Before Date: FEB 14 2015 – MAR 11 2015 (which reads FEB142015 – MAR112015)

No illnesses have been reported, but due to the time required to trace an illness back to a specific food product, it is impossible to say if any illnesses have occurred.

Cases of the potentially contaminated Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit were distributed to Costco Wholesale stores in the following locations: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico.

Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc. is issuing the recall as a proactive safety precaution. Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Hawaii to Receive $1,783,393 Federal Grant to Turn Around Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that 10 states will receive more than $95 million to continue efforts to turn around their persistently lowest-achieving schools through awards from the Department’s School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. The following states are receiving awards: Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Oregon and Texas.

SIG

“When schools fail, our children and neighborhoods suffer,” Duncan said. “Turning around our lowest-performing schools is hard work but it’s our responsibility, and represents a tremendous opportunity to improve the life chances of children. We owe it to our children, their families and the broader community. These School Improvement Grants are helping some of the lowest-achieving schools provide a better education for students who need it the most.”

Community engagement is an essential tactic for making school turnaround more effective. The U.S. Department of Education’s Reform Support Network (RSN) is releasing a paper, Strategies for Community Engagement in School Turnaround, which examines engagement in action. Between April and August of 2013 the RSN conducted reviews of 11 states and districts—urban and rural—with engaged communities surrounding low-performing schools. The enquiry yielded five primary lessons or takeaways about successful community engagement: make engagement a priority and establish an infrastructure, communicate proactively in the community, listen to the community and respond to its feedback, offer meaningful opportunities to participate and turn community supporters into leaders and advocates.

School Improvement Grants are awarded to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) that then make competitive subgrants to school districts that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to provide adequate resources to substantially raise student achievement in their lowest-performing schools.

Under the Obama administration, the SIG program has invested up to $2 million per school at more than 1,500 of the country’s lowest-performing schools. Early findings show positive momentum and progress in many SIG schools. Findings also show that many schools receiving SIG funding are improving, and some of the greatest gains have been in small towns and rural communities.

States announced today and their grant amounts are:
Hawaii—$1,783,393
Louisiana—$9,572,881
Maryland—$6,619,995
Maine—$1,703,898
Michigan—$16,757,681
Montana—$1,486,422
North Dakota—$1,110,048
Nevada—$3,725,820
Oregon—$5,530,729
Texas—$46,773,565