By In education, Hawaii

Hawaii Needs Substitute Teachers To Help With The Pandemic

It’s hard to say that school was back in full swing last week. When classes resumed following winter break, somewhere between 10% to 20% of students in each of my classes were absent, roughly mirroring the amount of teachers who were also absent.

For students and teachers alike, many, though not all of the absences were related to the surge of the omicron variant. Some had either contracted or been exposed to Covid-19 and thus had to quarantine. Others who traveled for the holidays were left stranded when their flights were canceled due to airline staffing shortages – shortages caused by Covid.

The abundance of absences renewed the debate about how schools should operate. Should we march on with in-person learning, move to distance learning again or return to the blended model where students alternate between coming to school and staying home?

Each has advantages and disadvantages…

Read more at Civil Beat

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By In Hawaii

Red Hill Should Change The Way We Think About The Military

…But even mild critiques of the military are often met with patriotic outrage, as if a specific institutional criticism is no different than spitting in the face of your uncle who took a bullet for his country. Military culture is particularly effective at subsuming the identities of those who are in it, so it’s easy to understand why criticism of the military is often received as criticism of military members.

This dissonance was on display when news broke of drinking water contamination apparently caused by a Red Hill fuel tank leak. As more details emerged, some people were shocked by the Navy’s negligence, dishonesty and casual disregard for the public they’re supposedly protecting – and another group of people was shocked that it took this long for the others to be shocked by any of this.

How we talk about the military — what it is and what it does — is still couched in wartime nostalgia and freedom-fighting cliches from a century ago…

Read more at Civil Beat

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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…

Read more at Civil Beat

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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…

Read more at Civil Beat

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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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