Summer 2011 Travels

Summer 2011 Travels

After more than four years of year-round public service on the Board of Education, I was finally able to take an extended holiday.

My ten-week adventure started closer to home with a week on the beach at Hanalei Bay with my fairy-goddaughter Harper and her family.

Next came three weeks in the Boston area taking a professional development course with leaders from around the world.  I learned about America’s complex political history, improved my negotiation skills, and affirmed that being able “swing from the chandeliers” could be a useful leadership tool.

From there I went to New York City for a week to visit old friends and meet up with my two eldest nieces. We saw an incredible production/performance called “War Horse”. 

Then the three of us flew to Barcelona for a week.  I wanted to share with them why Barcelona is one of my favorite cities:  the food, the people, the energy!  After getting over the initial culture shock, my nieces were able to put into practice some of the Spanish they had learned in high school. 

Just as we were getting acclimated to speaking Spanish, we were off to France for three weeks to rendezvous with friends from Hawaii.  First Paris, then Marseilles, then back to Paris. 

We loved the metro in Paris - so easy to use.  Paris was packed with tourists, but we were still able to have many special moments:  enjoying a café crème at our neighborhood café every morning, shopping in the Marais or the Latin Quarter, afternoon naps in the Tuileries and Luxemburg Gardens, enjoying our first cassoulet.

My nieces are avid photographers and they inspired me to take more photos. All I had was my new iphone 4; I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to capture some decent photos.  (See slideshow on home page.)

We took the hi-speed train down to the southern port city of Marseille.  We got there in time to enjoy the country’s Bastille Day festivities.  We joined the locals for a beer dock-side and marveled at their five-barge fireworks display. 

We did lots of walking, which offset all the eating and drinking. 

And we rented a car so that we could drive along the coast, the French Riviera:  St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice.  We came upon a living medieval village in Nice; it was as if time stood still for all the interconnecting structures built into the steep hill top. 

We also drove to a little village to the west of Marseille that was hosting a lavender festival.  The village was nestled amidst lavender fields.  When we opened the car doors the air was alive with the scent of lavender, which really did have a drowsing effect.  We had a special lavender infused lunch that started with lavender spiced lamb shank and ended with lavender ice cream.  It was double-rainbow lavender all the way!

On the drive back up to Paris we spent a day in Uzes, which turned out to be my favorite little medieval village.  It was cute, with perfect stone alleyways, and little boutiques, and cafes.  It could have been the inspiration for a medieval-themed out door shopping mall - complete with a fountain in the main plaza.

The French are very polite, even driving a rental car in Paris at rush hour in the rain, was a positive experience.  (Except when I almost hit two people on a moped who were passing me on my left, technically in the oncoming lane, when I was turning left.)

Other French highlights:  dining in the Palace of Versailles, being moved by a concert in the chapel at the Palace of Fountainebleau,  stumbling upon the Tour de France, swimming in the cold turquoise waters of the Mediterranean in the deep recesses of the Calanques.

Amsterdam was our last European stop.  We stayed with good friends from Los Angeles, hung out with their adorable daughter, toured the canals – a restful ending.

“In for a penny, in for a pound.”

It is exciting to see the diversity of the Governor’s nominees to the appointed Board of Education (BOE).  I voted for Governor Abercrombie because he had the best intentions for our public education system.  For the sake of the 177,871 students, I want to see the Governor's appointed board successfully carry out his comprehensive plan for Education. 

I will support the Governor and his appointed Board by offering insights, concerns and solutions through public testimony at BOE meetings.  Before being elected into office in 2006, I had a long history of advocating for children, which included providing public testimony at BOE meetings.  As a BOE member, I found public testimony to be incredibly valuable to understanding the impacts policies and implementation had on the community.  I hope previous BOE members, and the more than 150 candidates for the appointed board, fulfill their intention to serve our students anyway they can.  

It does not matter whether we serve on our own volition, serve at the will of the people, or serve at the will of the Governor. What matters is that we manifest that willingness to do our best to make a positive difference. This ability to make a difference is within all of our reach.

Re-Elected: 25% More Votes than 2006!

Re-Elected: 25% More Votes than 2006!

I am humbled by the overwhelming support I received this election from both voters and volunteers. It is a tremendous honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of setting policy for Hawaii’s public education and library systems.

After observing my student-focused leadership on the State Board of Education for the past four years, 102,845 Oahu voters cast a vote for me.

Despite the detraction of a half million-dollar campaign to wipe out an elected BOE, despite the highly publicized assault on education-funding and the resulting furloughs, despite the 53% decrease in votes cast in the BOE Oahu-at-Large race since 2006 – I received more than 25% additional votes this year, than when I first won election in 2006.

In an election year that found incumbents facing difficult challenges, this significant gain represents a clear affirmation that voters are pleased with my service on the BOE.  This positive evaluation is very meaningful to me.

I look forward to working collaboratively with Governor-Elect Abercrombie and the Legislature to put the best interest of Hawaii's students first.

Endorsed by Hawaii’s Working Families

Endorsed by Hawaii’s Working Families

I am pleasantly surprised to receive the endorsements of the  United Public Workers (UPW), International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA). 

The ILWU was a surprise because I did not know they endorsed BOE candidates or that I was even on their radar.  I was moved by their personal letter:  "We know that when you are re-elected, that during your important and difficult deliberations, you will be mindful that the vast majority of Hawaii's working men and women depend on the public education system to provide a solid and uplifting education for their children.”

The UPW endorsement came as a shocker because I treated their Director like a hostile witness at a BOE meeting two years ago after he urged the BOE to randomly drug test his union members - without cause. I was upset that the union of the State’s lowest wage earners was surrendering the constitutional rights of its members.  I guess, at the end of the day, the Director understood where I was coming from and he was very gracious when I thanked him for the endorsement. 

HGEA was the only one of the three that required an interview.  This was tricky because it was also the only one the BOE collectively bargains with regarding members of Unit 06.  I read a statement to the member-panel that summarized reasons why HGEA may, and may not, want to endorse me:  “If I am in a situation where I must decide whether to vote for what is in the best interest of our students, at the expense of what may be in the best interest of HGEA Unit 06 members – I will vote for what is in the best interest of our students.”

The fact that HGEA endorsed me despite my pledge to put students first, is a testament to how immensely they value the public education system that many of their own members send their kids to.

Thank you, Oahu Voters!

Thank you, Oahu Voters!

I am immensely grateful to the 53,327 Oahu voters who have recognized my commitment and dedication to Hawaii’s public schools and libraries.  I am humbled to have received the 2nd highest number of votes in this race. And I look forward to moving on to the general election with 5 other candidates vying for the 3 open seats.

I am so thankful to all the volunteers who generously give their time, talents and love to this campaign so that I can stay focused on maximizing educational opportunities for all Hawaii’s students.

As the general election on November 2nd approaches, there will be much distraction regarding whether Hawaii voters should preserve their right to participate in our democracy by directly voting for BOE candidates. 

I think it is evident that voters want to participate in the election of BOE members, or I would not have received almost as many Oahu votes as Mufi Hanneman (56,332).

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