Enrollment counts for 2016-2017 were just released at Hawaii DOE:
|NET CHANGE, ANNUAL, OFFICIAL ENROLLMENT COUNT SY 16-17|
|Regular Education||Special Education||Grand||Pre-K|
|139||NIU VALLEY MID||-3||11||8||0||0|
|OFFICIAL ENROLLMENT COUNT SY 16-17|
|Regular Education||Special Education||Grand||Pre-K|
|139||NIU VALLEY MID||827||89||916||0||0|
|OFFICIAL ENROLLMENT COUNT SY 15-16|
|Regular Education||Special Education||Grand||Pre-K|
|139||NIU VALLEY MID||830||78||908||0||0|
Mirroring the rest of the state, East Oahu public education counts generally held steady with no large changes noted. The only possible outliers would be Kalani, where special education enrollment increased by nine percent, and Niu Valley, where special education enrollment increased by 14 percent. I've extracted East Oahu data from two years of spreadsheets and posted it [here], if you're interested in more detail by grade level.
Remember when Honolulu had a morning AND an evening newspaper?
Rarely do I diss technology. In almost every instance, technology has brought us closer together and shortened the time between processes. In this case, however, it seems to have killed local news.
We've come full circle. Back in the early part of last century, news traveled slowly, often transmitted through inefficient means such as over the fence of your neighbors' yard. These days, unless your retired neighbor is livestreaming it, you'll probably get your local news the same way.
To compile the East Oahu weekly news update, I've devised a long list of different techniques for extracting local news over what should be a more efficient internet. Even then, I still miss important news that was published timely. On this, I blame Google. Yet at the same time, I haven't found any search engine as effective as Google. Go figure.
Part of the blame is just the cost of internet success. With 60 trillion webpages indexed and growing, Google can't crawl every site every minute. A bigger part of the blame however, comes from individuals whom game the system, trying to figure out Google's ranking algorithm at every turn. These people are experts in the booming field of SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
These SEO experts are part marketing guy, part snake oil salesman. Behind-the-scenes detail is where running a website gets complicated. Good content and good writing don't count if you can't be found or if users perceive you as clickbait, which is why I'm baffled as to why the Star Advertiser still runs behind a paywall; ditto for the Pacific Business News.
Recently, I subscribed to the Star Advertiser. After the introductory period ran out, I cancelled. I gave it my best shot, but I found that the paper version was inconvenient: I couldn't find the parts I wanted quickly. Surprisingly, I couldn't find these parts on their included online subscription either.
Usually, my go-to trick is to use Google to search a site's content when there is no search bar, or where the search bar does not turn up the results you are looking for. The syntax in Google is, site: followed by the domain name, e.g. site:CNN.com (no spaces between site: and the domain). Because Star-Advertiser is a subscription only site, I couldn't do that. That's when I resorted to the entirely free option of Star-Advertiser state library access. Sadly, the free option was better than the paid.
What happened next nearly makes me cry. I received not one, but five calls soliciting my renewal. Really? When I say it makes me want to cry, it's not because I was particularly bothered by the calls, but rather I was saddened by the realization that they're in a state of denial.
As far as what will happen to Hawaii's press, I don't know. I know I'm eternally grateful to sites like Civil Beat which just recently gave up all hope of being self-sustaining and became a non-profit instead. I just don't know if it's inherently just or long-term feasible. (Note to self and others: don't forget to DONATE.)
Twitter: The newsroom floor. Facebook???
Twitter isn't news. It's more like being on the newsroom floor. Twitter is where to go when the President has a "big announcement." For example, several hours before Barack Obama's announcement in 2011, Twitter had leaked that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Of course, Twitter doesn't always have it right. That's why it is the newsroom floor: a place you want to be when news may come out, the gossip mill around the water cooler. Sometimes, Twitter can be dangerous for tweeters. Take, for instance, Ryan Lochte lying -- not to the international public -- but in a private remark his mother. That, in turn, led to this tweet, which led to big news, the fallout which continues today.
Hawaii is not really on the bandwagon with the Twitter-newsroom-floor trend. Here, Twitter is used sporadically -- more as a means for publicity than news. One area I can say Hawaii uses Twitter in an outstanding way is with its #HiTraffic hashtag. Official government agencies, namely the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), are behind the hashtag's widespread use. If you want to check up-to-date traffic conditions, just search #HiTraffic.
The lack of Twitter usage leaves me struggling to find news. Its alternative, Facebook, just doesn't appeal to me, and quite frankly I've only found it good for seeing the latest pictures of my friends' cats and kids. On the flip side of that, I've found it a good place that -- if you're not careful who you "friend" -- lends itself to trolling and uncivil comments. Lastly, I just don't trust Facebook. Since the start, Facebook has been about monetizing the site, sometimes at the cost of simply assuming everything belongs to it.
As if to make the point, just yesterday, Facebook did a flip-flop now claiming it is a social site and not a media site, as they had once declared. No doubt, that came from the fact that Facebook fired the humans that filter the news and the algorithm immediately posted fake news at the top of users feeds.
A decade ago, a journalist friend correctly predicted the polarization of internet news, almost a natural extension of the "if it bleeds, it leads" mantra of broadcast news. In a world where truth counts less than clicks, extremism has reached levels we never imagined. Pillars of the media world have been separated into different camps: Fox pandering to the right, with MSNBC pandering to the left. Recently, the mainstream media's divergence from political neutrality shocked even me. When compiling a list of balanced news outlets for my son, I briefly considered adding Mother Jones to the list of neutral bias outlets. How far have we deviated from politics-neutral reporting when Mother Jones makes the list? (Although, for the record, I find Mother Jones' analysis always centered on fact and not sensationalism, and carefully vetted before publication unlike more well-known counterparts.)
National news aside, local news struggles to find a way to remain both profitable and relevant in the giant sea of the World Wide Web. News that may be useful and helpful to residents of a small area like Hawaii get pummelled in Google rank. Naturally, that causes local outlets to scour the web for irrelevant stories that will raise its internet visibility. That in turn, buries the news we really needed.
I don't have a solution. Or, maybe my solution is to scour the web for you so you know where to find East Oahu / Hawaii Kai relevant information. Or, maybe my longer term hope is that the myriad of technologies we have somehow find a natural settling as a true troll-free virtual community. Or, maybe that's just wishful thinking.
August 25 2016 - Honolulu City Council is exploring guided tour limits at Waimanalo beaches. A bill under consideration is aimed at addressing an influx of tourists who are making their way to East Oahu as part of organized guided tours. Some believe the increase in visitor traffic became an issue when a similar commercial activity ban went into effect in Kailua and Lanikai, essentially, displacing tour groups into neighboring communities. Now some are concerned this bill would force an influx of visitors into areas like Kahala and Hawaii Kai. [HNN]
August 24, 2016 - The Takitani Foundation has announced the winners of its academic scholarships for 2016. From the Honolulu district,: AJ Clifford Alcover of Farrington High School; Emily Wong of Kaimuki High School; Ria Oba of Kaiser High School; Yiju Huang of Kalani High School and Courtney Hiraoka of University Laboratory School. Sixty-six scholarships were awarded in total across different learning institutions. [Takitani Foundation]
August 23, 2016 - Denby Fawcett weighs in on the Kahala Avenue luxury condo debate in a Civil Beat column. [Civil Beat]
August 22, 2016 - President Barack Obama recognized four Hawaii teachers as recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The teachers will receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation and a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities. From East Oahu, one of the recipents is Bryan Silver, Kalani High (7-12 Science awardee) Silver has been teaching Industrial Engineering Design, Drafting Technology I+II and Engineering for 16 years at Kalani High. He runs a robust afterschool robotic program in VEX, FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST Robotics and Real-world Design Challenge. [Hawaii DOE]
August 22, 2016 The Hawaii Department of Education has published a newsletter entitled "Supporting Student Success: Phase I Statewide Listening Tour." Findings and best practices are outlined within the six page document. [Hawaii BOE/DOE]
PowerStroke Electric Pressure Washer PS141912
"I use it to clean the grill"
It really only took one sentence to convince me.
"I use it to clean the grill."
I had been contemplating getting a pressure washer. It seemed like a great tool for concrete cleanup outdoors. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that you can also use it on grills. Now I know how apartment complexes get theirs so clean so quickly. Before this, cleaning the grill was one of those giant mysteries I couldn't unravel.
This pressure washer is really amazing. I mean, really amazing. Initial assembly was fairly easy. Out of the box, just the wheels, two ends of a hose and the tool tray needed to be put together. After it was assembled, I took out the used cast iron grill grates and blasted them. In five minutes, they were far cleaner than if I had done them by hand for an hour. Since I had already hooked up the pressure washer, I shot down the concrete deck. (see image) Fifteen minutes later, it was done.
My only complaint about this tool is that when it's not in use, it takes up space. But really, that's part of the price of owning a pressure washer. Other than that, it's a great time saver. The Hawaii price was $169.99. Here are the manufacturer specs.
Three Nozzles: Turbo Nozzle, 15°, Low Pressure Soap Nozzle
The one time I really needed to consult the extended manual for was connecting the quick release attachments. The washer comes with three different types. One is an oscillating high pressure nozzle, the other is a steady high pressure stream nozzle (yellow), and the last one (blue) is gentle enough to be used on screens. As it turns out, seating the nozzle mechanism was much easier than it first appeared. All I had to do was pull down the outer ring of the wand (collar), insert the nozzle and release.
The pressure washer also comes with a soap dispensing unit. The instructions say to only use pressure washing detergent. Since I didn't know what that was, I had to do some research. Based on its all-purpose nature and reasonable price, I selected Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner. To test out the soap dispenser, I decided to wash my car. Not surprisingly, the instruction manual doesn't specifically say you can wash your car with it. However, a number of guides, like this one, explain how to do so.
What I found strange about this pressure washer, is that the soap dispenser can't be removed. Basically, you have to guess how much you need, then use it up and rinse it out one more time with water. For washing the car, I guessed I needed two cups of Simple Green. The pressure washer dispenses it in a ratio of 20:1 automatically. As it turned out, two cups of concentrate was just about right, although I could probably have done with 1 3/4 cup.
I found washing the car easy. It took 10 minutes from applying the detergent with the blue nozzle to using the yellow nozzle at about 5 feet away from the car to rinse it all off. Then I wiped it down with a soft cloth and scraped away any debris that made it through the first round. Easy-peasy.
Good for Households
All in all, I would recommend this product. I now know that pressure washers come in even stronger varieties. However, for household use, this is strong enough for me. It's comparatively compact; I doubt it weighs 140 pounds, as stated on the product website. Either that, or I'm much stronger than I thought. I picked it up off the warehouse floor, wheeled it to my car, loaded it, and took it home all by myself. The box fit in the back seat of my midsized sedan.
I'm fairly certain that the novelty of cleaning concrete and grills will wear off quickly. However, I know this machine will continue to get good use If you have room to store it, it's worth the space it occupies.
As the school year starts up in full swing, I'm posting a reminder of the FREE math, science and writing tutors available to public school students. For math and science, tutors are available live, at the time of contact. Through the miracles of modern technology, students and tutors can collaborate and communicate via Internet through a number of effective means, including a virtual chalkboard and audio and visual connections.
The Online Learning Academy offers free online math and science tutoring for all Hawaiʻi Department of Education (K-12), community college and UH Mānoa students state-wide. Tutors are available to help with classwork or homework during our hours of operation, Monday to Friday, 1pm to 10pm and Sunday, 5pm to 10pm.
For writing services, students should access the home page on UH's Online Learning Academy (OLA) and make an appointment. Hours for writing services are Monday through Saturday, 8am through 10pm.
One of my children uses the math tutoring service and really likes it. His comments have been all positive, but perhaps most importantly, he feels that he learns something and that the tutors guide him to the answer rather than give it to him.
As a parent or educator, it's a relief to know that these services are available. To access services, go to the University of Hawaii's Online Learning Academy at: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/ola/
At the end of his Niu Valley Middle School eighth grade year, my son was given the option of applying for AVID at Kaiser High School. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination and is a college and career preparedness route students can take.
AVID's early roots date back to the late 70s. The program got its first classroom debut in 1980 at Clairemont High School in San Diego with the help of a $7,000 grant. Since then, the program has grown dramatically. By its own account, "AVID now impacts more than 1.2 million students in nearly 5,000 schools and 43 postsecondary institutions in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and across 16 other countries/territories. The AVID College Readiness System spans elementary through higher education."
Here in Hawaii, more than a dozen years ago, Campbell High School was the first to offer AVID. As of 2013, "there are 117 participating [Hawaii] schools reaching about 11,000 students. Two schools – Campbell High and Washington Middle – are national demonstration sites."
As with most teenagers, there are few things that my son and I agree on. However, we both agree that AVID is a valuable program; almost all of the skills he learns here will be applicable to real-life scenarios. Frankly, I'm not sure why this is not offered at Niu Valley Middle School, where I think it would be even more beneficial than at the high school level.
Nationwide, AVID has proven itself as an effective tool for marginal students: those that might consider college if the options were clearly set out before them. More impressively, the rate of persistence, those still enrolled in college two years later, is in the upper 80 percent range across ethnicities. This is among a base of AVID students where 75 percent of their parents did not graduate from a college or university. In study after study, the strongest determinant of college graduation is the education level of the student's parent. That makes AVID's feat that much more impressive.
While my son does come from a family of college graduates, AVID is still the right fit for him. It does what I have not been able to: create a structure and plan -- good habits that get repeated by its regularity. As an example, not only are students asked to bring a three-ring binder, they're actually shown how to use them. As mundane as this may seem to most of us, in this digital age, the still necessary task of paper handling is not at all apparent to today's youth.
Another area where AVID excels -- at least at Kaiser -- is in painting a picture of the future. No week goes by that my son doesn't ask at least a few questions about careers or college, or about details no one at this point can determine, such as how much his education will set us back financially. Importantly, AVID helps him stay focused on who he is and what he would enjoy doing for a living.
AVID participants are assigned one advisor for all four years of high school. In class, students undergo a binder check to see that all materials have been submitted, a notes check, to see that they remain focused on their studies, and a tutoring submission, to request assistance in subject matter they don't quite grasp.
As a parent, I have only positive things to say about AVID. Here in Hawaii Kai, it ought to also be rolled out to middle and elementary schools. For more information about AVID, visit their website at http://www.avid.org.