Lack Of School Facilities ‘Crippling’ Many Charters

Honolulu Civil Beat, May 2016

It’s the most basic of school needs: a clean, safe space where students can learn.

Yet two decades after Hawaii passed its first charter school law, many charter school leaders say finding, maintaining — and paying for — basic school facilities remains a frequent, pressing problem.

Because of limited learning space at Hawaii Technology Academy’s main learning center, students meet with teachers at local libraries, community centers — and even at a North Shore McDonald’s with free Wi-Fi. Read more

1 In 8 Hawaii Middle Schoolers Say They’ve Attempted Suicide

Honolulu Civil Beat, April 2016

Nearly one in four say they’ve at least considered killing themselves. Can teaching kids about mental health earlier change that? Read more

Educational Assistants Play Crucial Role, But You Wouldn’t Know It By Their Paycheck

Honolulu Civil Beat, March 2016

As a program specialist at the Special Parent Information Network, Amanda Kaahanui spends a lot of time looking at big-picture issues facing special education students and parents across the state.

But as the parent of a child with special needs, nothing is more important — or has a bigger impact on her son’s education — than teachers and educational assistants who work in the classroom with her 12-year-old son. Read more

Hawaii’s Public Charter School Movement At A Crossroads

Honolulu Civil Beat, March 2016

Big changes could be ahead, including how new schools are created and how they are overseen. Read more

Do Parents And Teachers Really Have A Say In How Schools Run?

Honolulu Civil Beat, January 2016

A decade after Act 51 mandated that each school in Hawaii have a school community council, it’s unclear how well the system is — or isn’t — working. Read more

Why Are Online Classes, Degrees Hard To Get At The University Of Hawaii?

Honolulu Civil Beat, January 2016

UH Manoa offers two fully online degree programs, a stark contrast to the 16 programs offered on average at comparable institutions. Read more 

Special Education Is Backsliding in Hawaii, Teachers and Advocates Say

Honolulu Civil Beat, August 2015

Despite increases in funding and numerous efforts at reform, students with disabilities are falling farther behind their mainstream peers. Some say the downturn started when federal court supervision of the state system ended. Read more 

First-Ever Head of Hawaiian Education Foresees ‘Revolutionary’ Changes

Honolulu Civil Beat, August 2015

Dawn Kaui Sang’s new role brings big challenges as she looks to redefine language immersion programs and make sure every student in the state learns about Hawaiian culture. Read more

Tongan, Micronesian, Hawaiian Students Most Likely to Be Suspended

Honolulu Civil Beat, July 2015

On the surface, Hawaii’s school suspension data paints a rosy picture of student discipline trends.

But there are some big disparities when it comes to which students are getting sent home for on-campus offenses, according to a Civil Beat analysis of data from all public schools in Hawaii.

Click here to read 

Homeless students struggle to keep up

Orange County Register, December 2013

Albert Cruz stopped pretending to care about high school halfway through his sophomore year.

Cruz had never been a model student, but by the time he was 15 he had bigger problems: Finding a safe place to sleep from night to night.

“I didn’t care about school,” said Cruz, who left home after a family fight when he was 14. “I just wanted to be back at home. I wanted to have a family … I wanted to eat at the dinner table with my family. I wanted to do all this stuff I couldn’t do.”

Instead, Cruz spent months scrounging out places to stay while falling so far behind in school that he could never graduate on time, if at all. Read more

Getting past the stigma of student homelessness

Orange County Register, December 2013

Tiffani Lee has a hard time even saying the word “homeless” without crying.

The single mother of two grew up in a middle-class family in Washington and associates the word with images of people living under bridges or in cars.

So when Lee read in her sons’ school enrollment packet how homeless families can receive extra help, she tossed the paper aside – even though she was living in a shelter for women and children with nowhere else to go.

Read more

E-cigarettes a growing problem on campuses

Orange County Register, July 2013

They are hard to detect – tiny devices that look like markers or lip gloss, easily hidden in backpacks among a jumble of school supplies.

Teens can fill them with simple flavor cartridges, but they can also load them with marijuana oils or nicotine inserts that smell like watermelon or piña colada or nothing at all.

They are electronic cigarettes, and their sudden explosion in popularity on school campuses in the last 12 months is catching school officials across the state by surprise.

“This is coming on fast,” said Greg Wolfe, a state Department of Education health education consultant. “There are types of behavior that can catch you unaware.”

Read more

Who’s watching the local charter schools?

Orange County Register, December 2013

Orange County’s recent charter school growth spurt has brought with it a shift in who oversees local programs: More than a third of Orange County’s 25 charter school programs are now run by agencies based dozens or even hundreds of miles away.
Click here to read

Driven to cheat: Students say pressure to achieve is intense>

Orange County Register, January 2014

Students and administrators describe an intensely stressful atmosphere at top Orange County high schools, with students loading up on advanced classes, applying to more than a dozen colleges and studying until 2 a.m. nightly.

Cheating, many students say, is commonplace among their peers.

“It’s probably pressure,” said Colin Jindra, a junior at Tesoro High School. “When you end up with no more options and you have to get a grade, if there’s only one thing left, you do it.” Read more

Classroom Hero: Putting science to the test

Orange County Register, January 2014

The Submarine Blasters volunteer for the first voyage of the day, stepping to the front of Holly Steele’s science classroom to test the seaworthiness of their self-designed watercraft.

Connor Hopkins, 12, holds his team’s “submarine”: Two plastic soda bottles glued together, with one atop the other. A deflated balloon in the bottles connects to a drinking straw that protrudes from top bottle’s upper side.

Their mission has been straightforward so far: Find examples of buoyancy in nature, and then design and build a vessel capable of floating, submerging and attain neutral buoyancy – a state where the craft will be submerged but neither sink nor rise.

Now they have to put their ideas to the test. Read more

Stakes high at Juvenile Hall school

Orange County Register, August 2013

Welcome to Otto A. Fischer School at Juvenile Hall in Orange, where classes are held year round – and the stakes of teaching are higher than at any other public school in Orange County.

Reach children here and they might just turn their life around. Fail and they will likely end up in Juvenile Hall again and again – or worse.

“That motivates us,” substitute teacher Wendy Leece said. “This is serious business.” Read more

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