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Friday, November 13, 2009
November 13, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:46 AM :: 8095 Views

U.S. Education Secretary says Hawaii hurt chances for fed money with 'mind-boggling' furloughs

In a news tele-conference this morning Duncan said he is "highly aware" of the actions taken by Hawaii to close island classrooms 17 days this academic year and an equal amount next year because dropping tax revenues have contributed to an estimated $1 billion shortfall in Hawaii's overall state budget.

But he added that the actions of Gov. Linda Lingle, the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the state Board of Education means eliminating nearly 10 percent of 180 school days. He described the actions as "mind-boggling."

Duncan said state education leaders will have to make "a compelling case" to qualify for the federal education dollars.

He questioned whether eliminating so much instruction time in Hawaii meets one of the program's goals -- "raising the bar for all children."

Last month, Duncan wrote that Hawaii had taken "a step in the wrong direction."

ADV: Education secretary scolds Hawaii for furloughs, says grant money at risk , Dysfunction puts Hawaii in Hall of Shame

RELATED: Furloughs: Advertiser sides with “sustainability” billionaires against “Save our Sports” ,

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Furloughs: No alternatives? Really now (3 simple changes to close DoE budget gap) 

The DOE has said that it uses approximately a thousand substitute teachers a day (we calculate 1,100 using the numbers involved with the legal suit), roughly 10 percent of our classroom teachers. Based on the old 180-day school year, teachers were absent anywhere from 14 to 18 days.

We know that this number is skewed due to teachers who suffer long-term illnesses or accidents. But we also know from our experience as the parents of two public school students that many of those substitute teacher days are not due to illness or personal reasons but are due to meetings, conferences and training.

All those controllable absences become much more glaring in light of the 17 days lost to furloughs. By cutting the use of substitute teachers in half, we could save $11 million dollars a year or two furlough days. In addition, students would have that many more days with their trained, certified teachers in their classrooms rather than substitutes....

A third way in which to reallocate funds is to stop gorging on testing. While the DOE has decreased instructional time by 9 percent, it has increased standardized testing by more than that. This year the DOE has added online field testing for both the annual Hawaii State Assessments and the quarterly HSAs; algebra II tests; and online field testing in science for grades 4, 8, and 10 and biology students in grades 9, 11 and 12.

Additionally, the Board of Education has estimated that the HSA tests alone cost $25 million to $40 million a year. By cutting back on standardized testing, students would gain more time with their teachers and millions of dollars would be saved.

RELATED: Furloughs: How Unions and the DoE aim to co-opt protesting parents

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650 state workers to lose jobs to help Hawaii close budget deficit

The Lingle administration announced today that about 650 state workers will lose their jobs to help the state reduce labor costs and close a budget deficit, down from the 1,100 originally targeted for layoffs.  Marie Laderta, the director of the state Department of Human Resources Development, said the difference is due to civil service protections and the decision by some state workers to leave the state workforce rather than face the layoff.

SB: State to layoff 650 by year's end , Today is last workday for 84

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Isles' homeless numbers rise

The University of Hawai'i Center on the Family's annual homeless service utilization report released today showed there were 7,501 people in homeless shelters statewide in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009 — up about 7 percent from the fiscal year before.

Meanwhile, 7,484 homeless were served through outreach programs in the state, an increase of 720 homeless people compared with fiscal year 2007, the latest year available.

Of those in shelters, about 39 percent were under 17 years old.

And about half of those who moved into shelters came from the streets.

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SB: Don't rush change in medical coverage

Officials from the insurance company Hawaii Medical Services Association have called the process "fatally flawed" and are especially worried about 65,000 members on its PPO plan, which is no longer a default. HMSA members happy with that plan have to actively select it to retain it.

The much-smaller Health Management Association (HMA), by contrast, is not complaining, as it stands to gain new members as the provider of the new default plan for PPO members.

(And the SB writes this editorial because they are HMSA flacks.)

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Supporting Agriculture?  Mufi helps foreign competitors to Hawaii Mac Nuts

Attended by Filipino-Hawaiian investors, together with Mayor Mufi Hannemann of the city and county of Honolulu, Hawaii, and party on November 9, the first macadamia tree plantation in the Philippines will serve as a demonstration farm for the production of macadamia nuts, a high-valued commercial crop in the United States and some parts of Europe.  About 200,000 macadamia seedlings are ready for planting on Philippine plantations.

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Public hearing today on "fixed" selection of new Honolulu police chief

The Honolulu Police Commission will hear public testimony on the six candidates at its meeting today.

The commission has come under fire for naming six finalists last Friday instead of the four recommended by a selection committee earlier in the week.

Two of the five selection committee members also resigned in protest.  (Saying "the fix is in")

SB: Hearing on police chief selection to draw officers' ire over perceived taint

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HD 46, North Shore Oahu: Gil Riviere Will Run for Hawaii State House of Representatives in 2010

Gil Riviere is announcing his candidacy to represent the residents and communities of Oahu's North Shore in the House of Representatives for District 46.

"Foremost on everyone's mind is the weak economy and the inability of government to provide essential services like a complete educational year for our public school children," says Riviere. "Systemic problems have finally caught up to us, and we now have a rare opportunity to make difficult, but critical changes that have eluded us for too long."

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Man shot by police has history of getting off easy after attempting to escape arrest

Lopez pleaded no contest in February 2005 to unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, fleeing the scene of an accident, resisting an order to stop, driving without a license and failing to wear protective eyewear. He also asked Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto for a deferral of his no-contest pleas.

Sakamoto agreed to a five-year deferral period, which would have ended in May.

However, Lopez asked in April last year to end the deferral period early, and Sakamoto agreed, dismissing the charges.

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Hawi's iconoclast Channon inspiration for 'Men who stare at Goats' character

"The movie makes a lot of fun of me," said the 70-year-old retired Army officer who inspired Jeff Bridges' character, Bill Django, in the recently released movie, no anger or disappointment in his voice.

It's OK with Channon because the publicity puts a spotlight on him and his ideas for cultural, behavioral and, he hopes, military changes that could affect everyone around the globe.

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