By In education, Hawaii

If You Want To Improve Schools, Help Parents

I still remember a meeting with a parent when I was a new teacher 10 years ago.

It was an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, meeting for a second grade boy during which his mother, myself, another teacher and a vice principal discussed how he was performing academically and behaviorally to come up with a plan to help him progress.

While we were discussing the boy’s challenges with reading and aggressive playground behavior, his mother interrupted with an exasperated and startlingly blunt question: “Isn’t this your job?”

She was only half correct. It is indeed the job of teachers to teach kids how to read and to not hit others because you don’t want to wait in line for the slide, but it is not only our job to do that.

What still surprises me about what she said was not that she said it, but that she said it out loud. In my experience since then, I’ve found her attitude to be fairly commonplace, but most people don’t say it directly to their child’s teachers.

Whether it’s looking for the next superintendent to come in and save the day or trying out new schemes to recruit and retain teachers, the public expectation seems to be that schools are solely responsible for all of our education woes. Few people will actually say that, but when news of low test scores from last year came out, the subsequent discussion was almost exclusively about what schools need to do and how schools need to change.

In a way that’s sensible. There are definitely reforms that will improve the education system, and we should absolutely implement them. But there’s more to it than that…

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By In Hawaii

It Will Take A Village To Help Hawaii’s Teachers

Recent news about public education in Hawaii has been sobering.

More teachers are retiring than ever in a state that’s already burdened with a long-festering teacher shortage. Special education students have not been receiving adequate distance learning services, and assessment data from earlier this year showed a striking yet predictable drop in proficiency in reading, science and math during the pandemic.

All of this paints a familiar picture: there isn’t enough of what we have, and what we have is not enough. Like any Catch-22, it’s difficult to find the root of the problems, which makes it even more difficult to find solutions, but a good starting place is recognizing that legitimate dysfunction exists…

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By In Hawaii

Ro Brings Unapologetic Fun to Hawaiʻi Hip-Hop

In February 2021, Ro told his grandma that he had a surprise waiting for her in the car. But when she hopped into the front seat of his Honda Civic, she found nothing out of the ordinary. Then her 21-year-old grandson turned the radio on, just as a DJ introduced the song coming up next, “Kodak Moment.”

On the breezy, nostalgia-tinged jam, Ro raps the first verse and sings the hook; he’s the first person you hear on the track, which also features producer Daju, guitarist Tyler Donovan and rapper Koins. It’s a song that evokes simpler times of chasing the sunshine and playful flirtations—one you’ll be singing along with by the second chorus and unconsciously humming later that night. It’s the first radio hit any of the artists have had.

“As soon as I heard it played back to me, I knew this was gonna be big for us,” Ro says. “I wasn’t shocked that it made it to the radio.”

He may not have been surprised, but his grandma—who he calls mom since she raised him—certainly was. “That’s you?” she asked when she heard her grandson’s voice crooning through the car speakers. “Oh my god!” She started moving her hands to the beat as if she were the one rapping, and a glowing smile lit up her face. If you’ve ever seen one of Ro’s many music videos, you’d recognize that smile—it’s the same one he has in virtually every one of them. It’s not just a genetic bequeathal from his grandma, either. It’s a reflection of how she’s influenced his life and his character…

Read more at FLUX Hawaii

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By In Hawaii

Forget TikTok, Let’s Talk About What Schools Should Be

Department of Education Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi sent out a letter last week to parents warning about harmful TikTok challenges happening in schools.

“The latest trend on the social media platform encourages students to participate in monthly ‘challenges’ involving vandalism, violence and other inappropriate behavior while at school,” the letter says.

A number of schools in Hawaii have already experienced behavior associated with these challenges, most notably the “devious lick” challenge which dares students to make huge messes in school bathrooms and/or steal items from school. I had a trash can go missing from my classroom last month, a truly devastating casualty for kids who yell “Kobe!” when disposing of crumpled-up papers.

TikTok has since banned videos associated with the devious lick challenge, and while lists of other supposed challenges have circulated online, there is reason to believe they are not actually intended to be put into action so much as rile up the “kids these days” crowd. Fittingly, the Wikipedia entry for devious licks includes a link to the page for “moral panic” as a related topic.

Still, local schools have reported an uptick in theft and vandalism recently, much of which is not as harmless as my missing trash can…

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By In Social Media

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Usually the first home game of the football season is something to celebrate.

Fans get decked out in home colors and face paint, stadium parking lots transform from oleaginous wastelands into social epicenters, and the air is invigorated with the smell of barbeque and the collective hope that this is the beginning of something good. It’s the kind of mindless fun that’s also an essential human experience.

This was the atmosphere at schools like Virginia Tech and the University of Wisconsin-Madison last weekend. Clips of packed stadiums at both campuses went viral, providing jarring contrasts to the University of Hawaii’s first home game of the season.

While thousands of Hokie fans in Lane Stadium erupted off to never-never land and a sea of Badger fans turned Camp Randall Stadium into a massive House of Pain, the Rainbow Warriors were cheered by artificial crowd noise at Ching Field in front of a few dozen media members…

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