Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013

Hannah's Makana `Ohana performed during the Kupuna Hula Festival in Kona this week. Photo from Nancy Stafford

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SAID IT’S SEEING PROMISING SIGNS of improvement in student achievement in Race to the Top states and warning that it’s too early to draw sweeping conclusions, reports Nirvi Shah, of Politico. Some state officials also said they are finding the competition useful. The department’s statements were in response to a report criticizing the four-year program that was created in 2009. 
      “No one ever doubted that change this big would be hard, and while we have worked with states to make necessary adjustments, the big picture is that states’ efforts are largely in keeping with the scope and timeline of their plans,” an Education Department spokesman told Shah. “The department will continue to work with states to support what is working, to make necessary adjustments and to understand where we can learn and improve.”
Elaine Weiss Photo from aasa.org
      An organization called the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education issued a report concluding that the program to reform education and raise student achievement is not reaching its goals. “States made unrealistic and impossible promises” to raise student achievement and close achievement gaps “to degrees that would be virtually or literally impossible even with much longer timelines and larger funding boosts,” the report said.
      According to Elaine Weiss, national coordinator of the organization and author of the report, Race to the Top fails to address poverty-related impediments to learning. Weiss called for a more targeted focus on poverty over testing and accountability.
      Weiss quoted from reports that “make starkly clear the damage inflicted by child poverty on students and the education system. One report by the Council on Foreign Relations said, “The real scourge of the U.S. education system — and its greatest competitive weakness — is the deep and growing achievement gap between socioeconomic groups that begins early and lasts through a student’s academic career.”
Graph from Broader, Bolder Approach to Education shows disparity of
school absenteeism between student economic groups.
      Another report Weiss quotes said: “The manifestations of child poverty influence both the educational opportunities available to children and the educational outcomes that they will likely achieve. [These include income-based disparities in] family structure and behaviors, food security, parent employment, health insurance, exposure to toxins and child care…. Given the strong connection between educational success and economic disadvantage, we might expect education policy to focus on ways to overcome the effects of poverty on children. Yet most of today’s education policies have different foci.”
      “Race to the Top addresses only a narrow range of the damage” created by poverty, Weiss claims.
      Noelle Ellerson, associate executive director for advocacy and policy for the American Association of School Administrators, told Shah that “Congress should allocate resources across states and schools rather than repeatedly diverting some of that money to competitive grant programs in the midst of an ongoing recession,” “That would go further toward helping all students but especially those who are from low-income families or have disabilities — the children who are the main focus of federal education policy.”
      In its own progress reports, the Education Department has noted states’ struggles to deliver on all the promises made in exchange for Race to the Top money. It had flagged some states, including Hawai`i, for not delivering on what they promised. In July, the Hawai`i State Department of Education received notification from the U.S. Department of Education that its Race to the Top grant is no longer considered “high-risk” and is in good standing.
      The full report is available at boldapproach.org.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HOUSEHOLDS IN HAWAI`I PAY FOUR TIMES MORE than the average U.S. household and nearly seven times the households in Utah, where the residential energy cost is the cheapest in the nation, according to University of Hawai`i’s Economic Research Organization. While the U.S. average for April 2013 hovered at 12 cents/kwh, Hawai`i paid 37 cents/kwh for electricity in the residential sector.
      UHERO breaks down residential energy consumption by source. While electricity supplies 90 percent of households in Hawai`i with their energy needs, the two major sources in the U.S. — natural gas and electricity — each comprise 42 percent of energy consumption. “Hence, Hawai`i is not only consuming a larger share of electricity, but also at skyrocketing prices. In contrast, the U.S. is consuming a smaller portion from electricity at significantly discounted prices compared to Hawai`i,” UHERO states. “This, combined with a large share of cheap natural gas in the U.S. household consumption portfolio, explains the large disparity in the cost of energy — particularly in the residential sector — in Hawai`i and the U.S.
      UHERO says the possibility of switching to natural gas in Hawai`i is not straightforward because of the logistics and infrastructure costs (liquefaction, shipping, regasification) of bringing natural gas to Hawai`i.
      See more at uhero.hawaii.edu.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Richard Ha
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND, WE THROW AWAY at least seven megawatts of electricity per day, according to Richard Ha, owner of Hamakua Springs Country Farms. Ha referred to geothermal energy tapped at night when people are sleeping, saying it’s enough to power 4,550 homes or more.
      “HELCO doesn’t say that the seven megawatts of electricity are ‘thrown away.’ They call it ‘curtailed,’ but ‘curtailed’ means it goes unused. It’s wasted. Thrown away,” Ha said in a Community Voices Contribution in Civil Beat.
      Ha is a founding member of the Big Island Community Coalition, a group that wants to make Big Island electricity rates the lowest in the state. “We want to find a way to utilize this ‘thrown away’ resource, which could be used to greatly benefit the people of the Big Island.
      Ha offers suggestions on uses of this resource and potential benefits:
  • “We could use it to generate hydrogen, and for public transportation. 
  • “We could explore making ammonia for fertilizer, and as a potential energy carrier between the Hawaiian Islands. 
  • “We could use it in university research, to engage the minds of our young people. 
  • “It would remove the excess electricity from Puna, and relocate it to an appropriate location. 
  • “It would address fear of the industrialization of Puna. 
  • “We would make good use of a resource that is currently being wasted. 
      “We currently use oil here in Hawai`i to produce 70 percent of our electricity, and the price of oil (that is used to produce that electricity) has quadrupled in the last 10 years,” Ha concludes.
      See more at civilbeat.com.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Rick Stone Photo from Nancy Stafford
HANNAH’S MAKANA `OHANA PARTICIPATED in the Kupuna Hula Festival at Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay this week. They received compliments from other groups and attendees on their diversity of culture and their performance of How Great Thou Art.
      Halau members had made their own lauhala bracelets, seed lei and head lei in workshops led by members of the Hawaiian Civic Club of Ka`u.
Sandy Ooka Photo from Nancy Stafford
      Kumu Hannah Uribes said everyone had a great time and enjoyed performing very much.
      To comment on or “Like” this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

DURING A GUIDED HIKE AT THE KAHUKU UNIT of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park tomorrow, participants hike to an overlook on Upper Palm Trail to be oriented to numerous prominent geological features of the eruptions of the Mauna Loa’s Southwest Rift Zone. The 1.5-hour hike begins at 11:30 a.m.

VOLCANO WINERY’S FIRST HARVEST FESTIVAL is tomorrow from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event includes wine, pupus and music. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Call 967-7772 or email volcanowinery.com.

KA`U HIGH & PAHALA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Community Council meets Monday at 4 p.m. at the SCC room near the main office.




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