By In education, Hawaii

There Is No Right Way To Grade Students In A Pandemic

By now, students and their parents should have received their final report cards from last year. As always, they will be received with either dread or delight, regret or relief.

A lot of conflicted feelings also went into the input of those grades. Grading is always fraught, but this year it was especially so. The relevant questions were no longer just what and how to grade, but if we should grade at all. Algebraic equations are hard enough to learn in normal times, let alone when you’re at home with spotty internet connection and your neighbor’s lawnmower going off.

Every teacher I know adjusted their normal grading habits in one way or another. A friend at another school gave slightly increased scores for work turned in on time, instead of reducing grades for late work.

The pandemic was as good a time as any to reframe rewards and punishments.

The two primary changes my team and I made were a) allowing students to re-do all of their work as many times as they needed, and b) allowing students to turn in their work until the end of the quarter — sometimes after — without penalty. We also offered daily study halls, both virtual and in-person. If work is supposed to ensure that learning takes place, then the rationale was to give students as many opportunities to learn as possible.

I still think these were appropriate things to do given the circumstances, but at the same time, some problems emerged…

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By In Hawaii

Healing Through Sports

This past weekend was the first time spectators were allowed to attend outdoor sporting events since the pandemic began.

This is a good thing for the athletes. It’s a lot more fun to compete when people are cheering on the sidelines. For youth sports in particular, seeing and hearing support from your loved ones is invaluable. Two boys gave gut-punch quotes to KHON2 about the absence of their families at their games: “I was mad they weren’t here,” one boy said. “I kinda felt like nobody really cared about me,” the other boy said.

Of course, whenever kids are affected, so are parents. The little extra salt in the wound was watching visitors congregate for beach parties while local parents were stuck in the parking lot trying to watch their kids play soccer 50 yards away. In the ongoing jungle gym of our local mandates, allowing families to watch sports outside together is a small but meaningful step.

But the truth is, watching sports is not just good for the people playing; it’s also good for the people watching, in ways that are distinctly relevant for us here in Hawaii…

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By In Hawaii

The Dangers Of Hawaii’s Warrior Spirit

…You can trace the origins of Hawaii’s warrior spirit back centuries to when the ruling class and warrior class were one and the same, and it has only evolved through the years. Now, it speaks more broadly to a sense of honor and courage, a willingness to face obstacles head-on no matter the odds.

In this way, few people have embodied Hawaii’s warrior spirit better than Brennan. He took our most beloved sport to the biggest stage it’s ever been on and inspired a generation of fans and players along the way. He gave us all permission to dream big, and to believe in our capacity to achieve those dreams without reservation.

Yet the same warrior mentality that electrified all of us on the football field was also his downfall off the field. It united the islands at the same time it irrevocably damaged his brain.

Looking at the outpouring of support this past week, it’s clear just how much Brennan did for Hawaii. But when he needed it most, how much did we do for Brennan?

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By In Hawaii

Welcome to Hawaii. Now Pay Up.

It’s been a while since I was the type of guy to go to a club, but know what’s something I don’t remember? The cover charge.

It was a totally forgettable transaction, simply an established and expected part of the deal: if you want to go somewhere that a lot of other people also want to go, you have to pony up just to get inside. If you don’t want to pay, you can go somewhere else.

Cover charges surely drive some customers away sometimes, and there is certainly a threshold of reasonability — nobody will pay $500 at the door, for example. But if the destination can justify the cost, people will pay.

You’ve probably gathered that this is about tourism.

According to a recent Hawaii Tourism Authority survey, 66% of people agreed that Hawaii “is run for tourists at the expense of locals.”

It’s hard not to feel this way…

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By In Hawaii

The Social Failures Behind the Death of Iremamber Sykap

Here’s what we know about the shooting of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap.

On April 5, Sykap was driving a stolen car along with five others between the ages of 14 and 22. Following a police chase, officers shot at the car, and it crashed into a drainage ditch near McCully. Sykap was taken in critical condition to the hospital, where he died.

According to Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, the car was connected to several crimes leading up to the fatal shooting, including an armed robbery in Moiliili just 20 minutes prior, though no guns were found at the scene of the crash.

We don’t know much about Sykap the person just yet, but we know he was born in Guam and was the youngest of eight children. We know from his sister that “he would make you laugh at your lowest.” We know from his teacher that he was friendly and playful, and that he loved his family deeply. And we know from the gatherings at the place of his death that he was loved, too.

We also know he had a history of criminal behavior that resulted in multiple arrests.

It can be hard to square these two accounts of Sykap, especially since we tend to think of criminal behavior as a function of personality: people who do bad things are bad people, like cartoon villains. In reality, criminality is often directly tied to whether or not one’s basic needs are met…

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