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By In Hawaii, surfing

Here’s Why We Should All Mourn The Loss Of SURFER Magazine

Earlier this month, SURFER Magazine announced its first presidential endorsement in its 60-year history, for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

“The decisions made in the political realm have tremendous influence over our surfing lives and the health of our coasts,” the magazine posted on Instagram in a preemptive rebuttal to the “keep politics out of surfing” types.

The comments fell along predictable fault lines: those who thought it was a bold move given the magazine’s sizable readership in conservative Orange County, and those who treated the endorsement as polluted runoff seeping into the crystalline waters of their favorite surf break…

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By In education, Hawaii

It’s Time For Some Kids To Start Learning In Person Again

I recently saw some of my students for the first time this year. Saw them in person that is, as opposed to a floating head on a screen – or worse, a black square with a name on it when the computer camera is turned off.

After two months of distance learning, a select few students have started coming to school. They still participate in the same virtual classes, but they are sequestered in small groups on campus where they have more reliable internet access, quick tech support and adult supervision.

This is a good thing. While everyone has had to make adjustments this year, for some students and their families there are simply no conditions under which distance learning is going to work. Their disabilities are too incompatible with the independence required to succeed in this format; or their home environments are too unstable to be effective classrooms; or they are left alone while the parents are at work and they never really show up to class…

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By In education, Hawaii

COVID-19 Gives Us A Chance To Change How We Teach. Let’s Not Waste It

Somewhere between the initial uncertainty of the pandemic and the current ongoing delirium of it, there was a brief moment of clarity, a few weeks where hope for the future felt rational.

In the face of a crisis unseen in over a century, everyone seemed to get it. People complied with emergency orders and Congress managed to pass stimulus legislation in days – proving the previous gridlock to be a matter of conscious decision, not political necessity.

People collected their $1,200 government checks, and Gov. David Ige appeared to be getting most of the major responses right: clearly communicating how to apply for unemployment and small business relief, putting a moratorium on evictions. National poverty fell, and Hawaii’s case numbers steadily dropped.

People came together to support small businesses. Restaurant and grocery store workers were regarded as the vital pillars of community they’ve always been but for which they were rarely appreciated. Countless commuters were given back hours of their day as they began working from home. Summer vacation was on the horizon for students, presumably granting enough time for the Department of Education to learn from its abrupt pivot to online instruction and prepare for the fall.

It felt, briefly, like a saner world. The pandemic shook society by its ankles, holding us all aloft long enough for us to see what fell out of our collective pockets and wonder what, if any of it, was worth salvaging. Evidently, we don’t need to be at our job every day to get our work done, and yes, all of those meetings could just be emails instead.

But … of course, there’s a but…

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By In Hawaii

Making Sense Of Hawaii’s Lockdowns

The public response to the ongoing lockdowns has been visceral, eliciting reactions ranging from knee slaps and head scratches to shaking fists and facepalms. Wherever you fall on that anatomical spectrum, you’re right.

At first glance, the parameters are hard to wrap your head around. Businesses deemed nonessential will remain closed, though “nonessential” has become increasingly relative as unemployment soars and locally-owned businesses continue to close for good. Public spaces like parks, beaches and trails will reopen, but only for individual use, despite any evidence of outbreaks occurring in outdoor spaces.

Couples who are around each other in their homes anyway? Too risky! Kids cooped up on computers all day for school? Too bad! And if you want to go on a hike, you must ignore the most common-sense rule of being in nature and go it alone – for safety’s sake…

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By In education, Hawaii

This Troubling Distance Learning Program Tells Us A Lot About The DOE

The more we learn about Acellus, the more flagrant and alarming its real mystery becomes.

What we know about the Department of Education’s primary distance learning curriculum is not great. There’s the inappropriate content that spans several isms, the inexplicable use of “gun” to teach phonics – did Gordy Gorilla retire? – and lessons so bowdlerized their only educational value would be in a “spot the error” exercise.

A simple Google search raises a legion of red flags about the program’s creator Roger Billings. He either left or was excommunicated from the Mormon church over his belief that “it was the will of God that men should have more than one wife.” Afterward, he founded his own religious sect – The Church of Jesus Christ in Zion – in which he was the “patriarch and prophet…”

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