Rules strain immersion schools

Hawaiian educators want an option to testing in English

By Mary Vorsino

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.  Hawaiian-immersion educators are asking the federal government for an exemption from English-language testing standards and other No Child Left Behind mandates, saying they present big obstacles for language-immersion schools.

At stake, they and Native American educators say, are programs vital to keeping indigenous languages alive.

About 2,000 students in nearly two dozen Hawaii schools are in immersion programs in which instruction is carried out in the Hawaiian language.

Last week, dozens of native leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., to push for changes to the law, saying language-immersion schools are struggling to meet NCLB requirements-which include testing their students in English-while adhering to their mission of perpetuating native languages and culture.

The advocates also say NCLB conflicts with the Native American Languages Act, which encourages the use of indigenous languages “as a medium of instruction.”

“Part of what’s going on is an incredible inflexibility and an expectation that one size fits all, when by definition immersion is not of that size,” said Colin Kippen, executive director of the Native Hawaiian Education Council.

He added that immersion schools shouldn’t be penalized if their students don’t do well on English-language tests if students don’t learn in English.

He also said NCLB expects unrealistic staffing expectations of immersion schools, which must find secondary school teachers who are both “highly qualified” under NCLB standards and proficient in Hawaiian.

William H. “Pila” Wilson, chairman of the academic programs division at the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Hawaiian Language, said the federal government needs to come up with a “fair way of testing” immersion school students.

“The big thing is to have some relief in terms of testing to allow immersion schools on a national level to work on a way to demonstrate academic success,” Wilson said, adding that some Hawaii parents have refused to let their children be tested in English.

The U.S. Department of Education is studying the concerns of immersion schools, but has not said when a determination on possible changes could be made.

There is considerable pressure to achieve NCLB standards: Schools that do not make adequate yearly progress in student proficiency for two consecutive years are subject to varying sanctions that include state intervention and replacement of school staff.

Much of the discussion at the recent Washington summit, which Kippen and Wilson attended, centered around efforts to revitalize native languages and to measure student achievement in immersion schools.

Hawaii educators point out that the state Department of Education has tried to provide special accommodations to immersion schools.

Still, Hawaii immersion schools have had difficulty recruiting “highly qualified” secondary school teachers.

And schools say tests for Hawaiian-language immersion students don’t always provide an accurate picture of what students know.

Hawaiian immersion students in the third and fourth grade are the only children in the country who take an annual assessment for NCLB in a different language-English-than that used in their classes.

In upper grades, students take the Hawaii State Assessment in English, which some immersion schools say puts the students at a disadvantage.

Hawaiian-language immersion students begin getting formal instruction in English in fifth grade.

The Department of Education is working to produce Hawaiian-language tests for higher grades, but that work is slow going because of limited resources.

In April, about 290 students statewide took the Hawaiian Aligned Portfolio Assessment, a test intended to measure math and reading proficiency under NCLB for third- and fourth-grade immersion students.

Some 62 percent of students who took the HAPA this year tested as proficient in reading, while 59 percent tested as proficient in math.

There are 16 public schools statewide that offer Hawaiian-language immersion programs. In most cases, the programs are contained within a traditional school. But three offer complete language-immersion campuses. In addition, there are six Hawaiian immersion public charter schools.

An accounting of how Hawaiian-language immersion students perform overall in tests for NCLB was not immediately available.

Ke Kula Kaiapuni ‘O Anuenue, a K-12 public school immersion campus in Palolo, did not meet annual progress goals under NCLB this year. Ke Kula ‘o Ehunuikaimalino, a K-12 immersion school in Kealakekua, did meet the standards but is concerned about hitting proficiency standards next year, when schools will be expected to meet higher progress goals.

At the Ke Kula ‘o Ehunuikaimalino campus, 71 percent of students tested proficient in reading and 50 percent tested proficient in math this year.

Keliikanoe Oakland, school vice principal, said NCLB has had a positive effect in some regards. For one, she said, it has pushed schools to do better.

But she said finding “highly qualified” secondary school teachers who are proficient in Hawaiian is sometimes next to impossible. She also said tests need to be better formulated to accommodate immersion school students.

“I personally like the accountability element,” she said. “But I’m worried … about the benchmarks going up.”

Less Hawaiian blood OK for OHA's help, court rules

By Staff and News Reports

Jul 27, 2010

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs won a key victory yesterday when a federal appeals court said it will uphold a decision that the agency may fund programs supporting those who have less than 50 percent native Hawaiian blood.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that OHA’s trustees may spend money for several programs that benefit all Hawaiians, regardless of their blood quantum.

The court decision says OHA did not breach its trust with spending on native Hawaiian recognition lobbying, a program for gifted and talented native Hawaiian children called Na Pua Noeau, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. and Alu Like, which supports efforts assisting Hawaiians’ social and economic self-sufficiency.

The lawsuit was filed by five native Hawaiians who said OHA should fund programs and services only for those with 50 percent or more of Hawaiian blood.

At issue in the lawsuit was about $28 million OHA receives annually from what are known as public trust lands revenues. The money is derived from the income and proceeds collected on the use of about 1.2 million acres now under the control of the state but which were once crown and government lands.

The attorney for the five men said language in both the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act and the state Admission Act say funds are supposed to benefit those with at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood.

OHA argued that by providing benefits to all Hawaiians without regard to blood quantum, the agency is providing a benefit to those with 50 percent or more.

In her initial ruling in June 2008, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway said the law gives OHA broad discretion on how to meet its mandates. The five who brought the case then appealed that decision, leading to yesterday’s decision.

The case was originally filed in 2005 by Virgil Day, Josiah Hoohuli, Mel Hoomanawanui, Patrick Kahawaiolaa and Samuel Kealoha. After Mollway rejected the case in 2006, a panel of the 9th Circuit appeals court ordered her in August 2007 to hear the case.

Hawaiian Homes Commission backs new version of Akaka Bill

By Star-Advertiser staff

Jul 27, 2010

The state Hawaiian Homes Commission has voted to support a new version of a native Hawaiian federal recognition bill and is urging the bill’s passage in the U.S. Senate.

“It gives us that right to exist. But most importantly, it also helps to protect our trust and our trust assets moving forward,” said Kaulana Park, chairman of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, which is governed by the commission.

The commission joins the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs and other Hawaiian groups that back the bill, known as the Akaka Bill for its main sponsor, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

The bill would create a process for native Hawaiians to form their own government and negotiate with the federal and state governments on land use and cultural issues. Akaka has agreed to amendments to win back the support of Gov. Linda Lingle. The amendments protect the state’s regulatory powers over health and safety activities while the negotiations are in progress.

“We believe that we are probably closer than we have ever been to getting this bill actually enacted into law,” said Clyde Namuo, chief executive officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Akaka and U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, hope to get a Senate vote on the bill this year. If the bill is amended by the Senate, it would have to be reconciled with the version that passed the U.S. House in February. President Obama has said he would sign the bill into law.

Free White Paper: The Nonprofit Sector May Shrink 25%

Free White Paper: The Nonprofit Sector May Shrink 25%

By GuideStar

On May 17, 2010, the IRS began revoking tax-exempt status from nonprofits that failed to file three consecutive annual returns (Form 990-N, 990-EZ, 990, or 990-PF). As a result, as many as 300,000 nonprofits may lose their tax-exempt status, effectively shrinking the nonprofit sector by 25%.

What do YOU need to know?

  • Which nonprofits are at risk?

  • What happens to a nonprofit that loses its exemption?

  • What happens if a donor gives to a charity that has lost its exemption?

GuideStar’s new report, “Automatic Revocation of Nonprofits’ Tax-Exempt Status: What Nonprofits, Grantmakers, and Donors Need to Know,” answers all of these questions, and more. Written by Linda M. Lampkin of ERI Economic Research Institute, it is a no-nonsense overview of the impact of this earthshaking development in the nonprofit world.

Save the Date – 9th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention Set for October 2010

Jul 01 2010

Save the Date – 9th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention Set for October 2010

HONOLULU, HAWAII – Organizers of one of the largest gatherings of Native Hawaiian community and cultural practitioners have set the dates of the 9th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention for October 11 -14, 2010. Members of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) confirmed the event location at the Hawai’i Convention Center in Honolulu.

“Our theme this year will focus on the power of community ideas and unity in rebuilding an economy that honors the identity of Hawaii,” said Robin Puanani Danner, CNHA President and CEO. “Our members and community leaders hold valuable keys to the future success of Hawaii and have certainly influenced many of the policy makers who are vying to lead our state in the 2010 election cycle.  We want to make sure that we give them our energy and our best ideas.”

A new partnership with multiple Native organizations and businesses will also be launched at the Convention in October to engage Next Generation leaders.  Organizers will be coordinating a youth and elders conference early in the week of the Convention.

“Bringing these two generations together is perhaps the single most important addition to the annual convention,” said Napali Woode, CNHA Senior Vice President.  “We really appreciate Professor Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa’s work in making this powerful component a regular part of Convention.”

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s Chairman of the Board, Alvin Parker, will open the 9th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention along with CNHA’s 14 other Board members.  “We look forward to every year that Hawaiians gather and work together,” Parker explains. “It is a chance to see the remarkable daily efforts of community leaders around the state.”

Registration and sponsorship packages for the Convention will be available in the following months. Special room rates at the Ala Moana Hotel will also be available for Convention participants. To learn more about the 9th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention, please contact CNHA via telephone at 808.596.8155 or via email

CNHA is a national network of Native Hawaiian Organizations, providing assistance in accessing capital and technical resources, and is a policy voice on issues important to Native Hawaiian communities. Its mission is to enhance the well-being of Hawaii through the cultural, economic, and community development of Native Hawaiians.  For more information about CNHA please contact us at 808.596.8155, toll-free at 1.800.709.2642, by e-mail at, or visit our website at

Nanakuli parcel needed for a construction landfill, not a park

By Bill Lyon

Jul 19, 2010

When mayor Mufi Hannemann ran for mayor, he said there are three things we must ask about government spending:

Do we need it? Can we afford it? Can we afford to maintain it?

From our current economic perspective, the mayor’s questions are almost prophetic. With the recent City Council approval of the mayor’s request to designate 50 acres of land in Nanakuli as a regional park on the Waianae Public Infrastructure Map, the questions are also easy to answer.

No, no and no.

Make no mistake. A regional park is a wonderful idea for Waianae. It just doesn’t make sense on this piece of land.

Leeward Land LLC, a sister company of PVT Land Co. Ltd., owns the land. Adjacent to the PVT construction and demolition (C&D) landfill, the land has been held in reserve for future expansion of the PVT landfill and has been on the city’s short list of potential landfill sites for 40 years.

The City Council voted to appropriate $3 million to purchase the land, but current estimates value the Leeward parcel at about $100 million based on its highest and best use as a landfill. If the city moves to condemn the land, the issue of what the land is worth will head to court, where it will take years to resolve with taxpayers footing the bill.

At a time the city is struggling with costs — including a $1 billion-plus upgrade of sewage treatment facilities — writing a blank check for a regional park doesn’t make good sense. Especially when other land is available. In fact, when the present PVT landfill closes — which is expected in six to 10 years — it could become a park in the same way the 30-acre Honolulu Waterfront Park was created on the site of a municipal landfill. PVT proposed that alternative, but the mayor wasn’t interested.

There’s also the question of whether the city can afford to maintain a new park. Our existing parks are in chronic disrepair exactly because we can’t afford to maintain them.

But let’s put the questions of need and affordability aside.

The overarching fact is our economy depends on having an operating C&D landfill. With no place to dispose of debris, construction would grind to a halt and thousands of jobs with it. And where will debris generated by Oahu’s 20-year rail project go?

By capping Leeward’s expansion plans, the city is quashing a future source of fuel for the production of renewable energy at a time when the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative calls for 40 percent of Hawaii’s energy to come from those sources by 2030. PVT is now awaiting approval to implement a plan to convert materials entering its landfill into feedstock for gasification that would produce energy for Oahu.

Now is the time to address our landfill capacity crisis. But wait. The city already did that. In 2003, a city blue-ribbon commission determined the Leeward property was a preferred landfill site among 45 sites evaluated. The three other sites identified for a landfill are the Ameron Quarry in Kailua, Maili Quarry in Maili, and Makaiwa Gulch, which is adjacent to the municipal landfill at Waimanalo Gulch above Ko Olina.

With so many reasons to keep the Leeward site as a landfill — and with no need for a regional park on Leeward’s land or planning documents to recommend it — why did the mayor suddenly to push the park through the City Council?

Some say taking the Leeward site out of play gives the city the argument it needs to push to expand Waimanalo Gulch. Others say influential supporters were factors.

It’s not too late to rethink the regional park. Maybe the solution is as simple as putting the park elsewhere on the west side and keeping the Leeward site as a potential C&D landfill for the good of Hawaii’s economic future.

Bill Lyon is a geologist and president of Terrpac LLC, an environmental consulting company. He has worked with landfill operators on Oahu and the neighbor islands.

Nanakuli High moves to high-tech learning

By Mary Vorsino

Jul 20, 2010

Incoming Nanakuli High School freshmen yesterday test-drove new laptops they will use over the coming year as part of an initiative to turn around low-performing schools.

The one-to-one laptop program is an integral part of the national New Tech Network model, which is being used or has been adopted at 62 schools around the country, including Nanakuli and Waianae high schools this year.

The model emphasizes project-based learning and problem-solving and trains teachers to be “facilitators” who guide students in finding answers, rather than telling them what they need to know. New Tech has shown success in improving everything from attendance to test scores.

Yesterday, Nanakuli students and their parents got an introduction to the New Tech model in laptop orientations scheduled throughout the day. In the sessions, students excitedly opened boxes with their computers, got a quick introduction on how to use them and were told that the New Tech model was something they would grow to love.

“You are going to have a very different learning experience,” New Tech Network President Monica Martinez told one group of students. “It’s an approach to learning that’s really different. It’s hard but it’s also fun.”
» Model aims at turning around low-performing schools, fostering economic development in communities and encouraging students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math careers.» Students work in groups on problem-based projects, and teachers act as “facilitators.”
» Students learn by seeking out what they need to know (not by being told what they need to know).
» To enroll in the program, schools pay $450,000 for four years of support, professional development and guidance from the New Tech Network, a subsidiary of the KnowledgeWorks Foundation.
» Some 62 schools (with 15,000 students) around the country have adopted New Tech models — 27 of which are moving to the model this year, including Nanakuli and Waianae high schools.
» The model has shown success in improving attendance, graduation rates and test scores. About three-fourths of schools that adopted the model in its early stages have stuck with it.
For more information, go to

After a morning orientation, several students said they were looking forward to the start of school.
“We’re going to excel,” said student Branielle Young-Velarde, adding that Nanakuli students are often “stereotyped” as poor performers. “As a school we can work together.”
Student Jarrinn Aipolani said he is proud of his school and is looking forward to seeing it shine. “Nanakuli is not what they expect it to be,” he said. “Nanakuli is better.”

That is the kind of talk that gives teachers chicken skin. Just ask Cara Cornelison, who said New Tech has gotten her excited about teaching again.

“I think we need to tell these kids not what they can’t do, but what they can do,” said the 36-year-old, who has been teaching for 15 years. “It (Nanakuli) absolutely can be turned around. Why not?”

Michael Schaffer, 28, a math teacher at Nanakuli, said New Tech is something he believes will get students interested in learning and coming back day after day.
The entire freshman class of 150 at Nanakuli High School will participate in the New Tech program, while about 200 freshmen at Waianae High School will follow the model.

Each incoming class at Nanakuli will be a New Tech one, so in four years the entire campus will follow the model. Waianae could also go to a complete New Tech campus, but for now it will be one of several academies offered at the school.

The process of choosing the New Tech model for the schools started about 18 months ago, when the Department of Education and several community partners were looking for out-of-the-box ways to turn around struggling campuses.

Kamehameha Schools donated the $450,000 needed per school (which goes to training and support) to participate in the New Tech Network, and worked with the Nanakuli and Waianae campuses to write strategic plans for how to implement New Tech — and how to gauge whether it is working.

Kamehameha Schools, the DOE, neighboring public elementary schools and other community groups donated about $350,000 to buy new laptops.

Shawn Kanaiaupuni, Kamehameha Schools public education support division director, said New Tech is about preparing students to learn and work in the 21st century. “It’s a chance to empower the students by taking part in their own learning process,” she said.

Teachers who form the core of the New Tech academies at Nanakuli and Waianae high schools went through training earlier this year to learn the model and also visited schools on the mainland where New Tech has worked, including one in a disadvantaged Los Angeles neighborhood.

New Tech is being showcased as an important part of a radical restructuring of struggling Hawaii schools, especially those on the Leeward Coast. Nanakuli and Waianae are part of what the DOE is calling Zones for School Innovation, where administrators will get more authority to incorporate new methods to address low test scores, high dropout rates and poor attendance.

Passage of Akaka Bill will benefit all Hawaii

By John D. Waihee III

Jul 21, 2010

The drafting of the Akaka Bill has been a challenging 11-year process, but we now have a carefully written piece of legislation that should be enacted into law. Its passage will benefit everyone in the state by establishing a formal process to address the injustices resulting from the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the continuing disenfranchisement of native Hawaiians. By officially recognizing native Hawaiians as indigenous people of the United States, it will protect the federal programs for native Hawaiians that bring millions of dollars into the state annually.

The Akaka Bill — formally called the native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act — was passed by the U.S. House of Representative in February and now awaits passage by the Senate. It will provide a framework to allow native Hawaiians to create a government similar to the 562 federally recognized indigenous groups in the United States. After that phase is completed, negotiations will begin for the return of land and resources currently held in trust by the state and federal governments.

John D. Waihee III is
a former governor of Hawaii.

During the past year, revisions have been made to the bill based on input from groups such as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the native Hawaiian Bar Association, the Council of Native Hawaiian Advancement, the U.S. Justice Department and Hawaii’s Department of the Attorney General. Sen. Daniel Akaka revised the bill to give the native Hawaiian government sovereign immunity based on the strong recommendation of the Justice Department lawyers who wanted the bill to be consistent with existing federal policy toward indigenous peoples.

These changes have strengthened the legal foundation of the bill by conforming the structure of the native Hawaiian government to the structure of hundreds of native governments already established across the United States. Gov. Linda Lingle and Attorney General Mark Bennett, who have been consistent supporters of the Akaka Bill and of federal recognition of native Hawaiians as indigenous peoples, wanted some additional clarifications regarding the relationship between the native Hawaiian government and the state of Hawaii during the transitional period, and these clarifications have now been included in additional amendments to the bill. Obviously, the native Hawaiian government and the state will need to work together during this transitional period, but the bill ensures that native Hawaiians will have rights and responsibilities similar to those of other native peoples in Alaska and the continental United States.

With the changes agreed to earlier this month, the Senate is poised to pass this law. The House will need to agree to the clarifications, and then it will proceed to President Barack Obama’s desk for signature, and a new era will begin for native Hawaiians and the people of Hawaii.

The United States has recognized Alaska Natives and American Indians as indigenous people for many years, and Canada has been systematically restoring the rights of its First Nation people. New Zealand has been going through a similar process during the past 35 years with its indigenous people, the Maori. During this time, the rich cultural heritage of the Maori, a unique Polynesian culture like the Hawaiians, has been protected; lands, resources, factories, fishing rights, and ships have been transferred to Maori tribes; and Maori are now partners in many economic activities with the other New Zealanders. With the passage of the Akaka Bill, we can look forward to a similar partnership that will bring together all the people of Hawaii to promote economic prosperity while protecting the traditions and cultural heritage of native Hawaiians and ensuring that Hawaiians have a voice in guiding the future of our community.

Grant writing workshops for NOAA programs

NOAA to Host Free Information Sessions

What: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is providing information and proposal writing workshops for NOAA programs. The workshops will feature information on the various funding programs and have program representatives on hand to answer questions.

Under contract with NOAA, The Catalyst Group, LLC, an organizational consulting, research, and training company based in Honolulu, is organizing and conducting the workshops across the state. Workshops are provided free of charge.

This is a valuable opportunity to learn about and develop competitive proposals for NOAA funding opportunities in the State of Hawaii and throughout the Pacific.

Who: Individuals, community members, organizations, and related businesses interested in NOAA programs and funding opportunities.

When and Where: Workshops are from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

MAUI – July 27, 2010

NOAA Sanctuary Learning Center

726 S. Kihei Rd.

Kihei, HI 96753

*Registration deadline: July 22, 2010

OAHU – August 3, 2010

Manoa Grand Ballroom

Lounge Room

2454 South Beretania Street

Honolulu, HI 96826

*Registration deadline: July 29, 2010

KONA – August 17, 2010

King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel

Marina Room

75-5660 Palani Road

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740

*Registration deadline: August 12, 2010

HILO – August 18, 2010

Naniloa Volcanoes Resort

Palm Lounge

93 Banyan Drive Hilo, HI 96720

*Registration deadline: August 13, 2010

Note: Workshops in Molokai & Lanai will be scheduled later in the year.

For additional information about these events, contact Naomie Marzo of The Catalyst Group, LLC, 808-739-1992,

Message from U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye

Climate Changes Requires Change

Dear Friends:

Climate change affects the well-being of our people, the strength of our economy, and the health of our ecosystems.   Where we build, what food we grow, and how we maintain our national security are all affected by gradual changes in our climate spurred by natural and man-made causes.

Two years ago, I chaired a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in Honolulu on “Climate Change Impacts and Responses in Island Communities.”   The increasing pressures of climate change are evident in Hawaii – from rising sea levels to changes in fish populations and coral reefs.  We are both vulnerable and susceptible.

As a society, we find it easier to react to a large catastrophic event rather than adjust our behavior to accommodate the long-term, incremental changes which are occurring in our climate.   The Hawaii tsunami scare in February demonstrated that once the warning was sounded, there was a plan, civil defense was mobilized, and the people responded accordingly.   Had there been an incident, there was a system in place to support the recovery.

Climate change is much more subtle and may seem like it does not demand our immediate attention.  However, we should recognize that consistent change, however small, can aggregate into potentially devastating circumstances.

Over the years, $24.5 million has put Hawaii at the forefront of our nation’s response to climate change.  This includes the Mauna Loa Observatory, a one of a kind research facility on Hawaii Island, which has continuously monitored and collected data relating to changes in the atmosphere since the 1950’s.  Their carbon dioxide observations have proved a rise in greenhouse gases.

As our climate changes, the weather will become more severe.   Scientific models are being developed and implemented in Hawaii by federal agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the University of Hawaii to track these changes, like rising sea levels.  These changes can be compounded by an increase in severe weather events that trigger high surf, tsunami and flooding.   Improving our understanding of weather patterns will allow us to better prepare the public and our first responders for severe weather.

Continue reading Message from U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye