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Family Reunion in Hanalei

Family Reunion in Hanalei

My brothers and cousins organized our third annual family reunion that took place this past weekend in Hanalei, Kauai. 

On Saturday evening, we honored our late grandmother by hosting a grant-making reception for the Florence Iwamoto Kauai Fund.  This year we were able to provide grants to various community programs, including: Kauai Youth Network, Kauai Student Councils, Lihue Senior Center,  Kauai Police Activities League, Kauai Hospice and Hui Malama o Koloa, to name a few.

Another highlight was having all my nieces in one place!  Could not pass-up the opportunity to take a group photo.  It helps that two of them are photographers.

There was lots of food, laughter, and paddle boarding.  On the last day, an 8-foot hammerhead shark tried to crash our party when we were bodysurfing.  We trucked and biked it to the other side of the bay, and jumped off the pier into crystal clear water.  Great memories to hold on to ‘til next year.

Renewed Committment

Renewed Committment

I'm excited about the opportunity to continue my service on the Board of Education as an advocate for students.

During the last four years on the State Board of Education, I have had the honor of working to improve education for our students.  I consistently put the best interest of our students first.  I continually spoke against furloughing teachers and DOE personnel on student instructional days.  I voted for more inclusive protections for students against harassment and discrimination.  I advocated for providing increased funding to schools via the Weighted Student Formula.

On a personal level, I gained a wealth of knowledge about public education in Hawai`i: what works, what isn’t working, and most importantly, why.  This information, insight and analysis should not go to waste.

Four years ago I committed myself to keep the interest of students first.  I have to admit, the political process has been frustrating at times: weathering severe budget cuts by the Legislature and Governor, watching seasoned politicians play to headlines and sound bites at the expense of students, and protecting the constitutional rights of students, teachers and families from those very officials who took an oath to defend the Constitution.  

These challenges have affirmed my reason for serving: empowering students to become leaders in a community that values education.

I look forward to continuing to set and enforce policies that maximize educational opportunities for all students. I look forward to working with a legislature that has the courage to do what it must to fully fund a high-performing public education system. And, perhaps most importantly, I look forward to working with a governor who has the wisdom to recognize that the long-term investment in our future begins with our children and their education. 

Science of Incentives

I love it when you throw out a question and the universe delivers the response at a later date and context. 

At a recent BOE meeting I asked, “is there any data to substantiate the effectiveness of financial incentives for teacher/principal performance?” The general response I received at that time was that there was no reliable data available because it was a new model of accountability.

A few days later, I was taking a break from a large project and thought I would treat myself to a Ted Talk quickie.  I clicked on Dan Pink simply because the freshness of his name.  And low and behold my question was answered:  Financial incentives work with purely mechanical tasks, but result in negative impacts on performance when the tasks involve the use of rudimentary cognitive skills, problem-solving and creativity. 

Mr. Pink cites 40 years of testing, verification by economists at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and London School of Economics, studies funded by the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, to support the conclusion that higher extrinsic incentives led to worse performance in executing 21st century tasks.  if you're a visual learner like me, check out the RSA Animate version.

The second half of Mr. Pink’s “talk” focuses on a new intrinsic motivational approach involving autonomy, mastery and purpose.  Interestingly these also happen to be the same building blocks we rely on in high performing educational leaders.  Hmmm…..

No Panic - Go Organic

No Panic - Go Organic

My own custom MAO ORGANIC Home Garden!!!

I attended the Ma’o Organic Farm Annual Fundraiser at the Bishop Museum and was able to snag the Custom Organic Garden from the Live Auction.  Yay!

Very excited about their farm staff and youth interns designing and installing my garden.  They will be putting in starter seedlings and giving me maintenance tips on how to keep my home stocked with my favorite veggies year round. 

Can’t get more local or sustainable than that!

Food for thought

Food for thought

Whatever the reasons, the simple fact that so many children go to school hungry or malnourished is devastating.  Teachers like Richie Biluan from Waipahu Elementary share their own food with the kids who hang out in their classrooms during the no-lunch periods.

Ms. Biluan and I met with Congresswoman Mazie Hirono to discuss how we can work together to address the issue of hunger in our classrooms.

The federal government now offers States subsidies to provide meals to low-income students. Families who qualify must fill out complex forms to get access to these meals.  Congress is now trying to streamline accessibility so that families already receiving food stamps or Medicaid will automatically have access to free meals at schools.  Ms. Biluan and I asked Congresswoman to support this legislation--the Hunger-Free Schools Act. The Congresswoman agreed to co-sponsor and support the measure.

Until the Hunger-Free Schools Act passes and is implemented, teachers across Hawaii will continue to feed their students in their “underground cafeterias.”

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