BY HAWAII REPORTER

Hawaii Called a Charter School Laggard

Hawaii is one of nine states where caps have limited the growth of charter schools, according to a new report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The report, Measuring Up to the Model: A Ranking of State Public Charter School Laws looks at the country’s 41 state charter laws and scores how well each supports charter school quality and growth based on the 20 essential components from the NAPCS’ model charter school law.

The report notes the state passed legislation that partially lifted a cap on start-up charter schools and required the state to make available vacant schools for charter schools, but said Hawaii’s law still needs improvement.

That includes removing its camps, strengthening application and review processes and ensuring equitable operational funding and access to capital funding and facilities.

“High-quality charter schools start with strong charter school laws,” said commented Peter C. Groff, president and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The group listed 10 states with laws shown to best support the growth of high-quality charter schools — Minnesota, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, California, Georgia, District of Columbia, Louisiana and Utah.

Besides Hawaii, eight other states were listed as having caps that severely constraining growth — Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio.

There are 10 states that have still failed to enact a charter school law, the group said. These include Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

Hanabusa, Hirono Receive Committee Assignments

Hawaii’s two U.S. Representatives received assignments yesterday on committees of importance to the state.

Newly elected Rep. Colleen Hanabusa was appointed to the committees on Armed Forces and Natural Resources, while Rep. Mazie Hirono retained her seat on the Transportation and Infrastructure committee and the Education and Workforce committee.

Hanabusa also was appointed to two Armed Forces subcommittees, for readiness and oversight.

Hirono was able to retain her seat on the Transportation and Infrastructure committee despite Republicans taking control of the House and receiving the bulk of committee seats.

The committee considers funding for transportation projects, including transit projects such as one being pursued for Honolulu.

Board of Education, Other Board and Commission Applicants Sought

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is putting a call out to all people interested in serving on the 150 boards and commissions that his office oversees.

People interested in applying for seats on the boards are being asked to file applications via the governor’s website at  http://hawaii.gov/gov.
“We want an open and fair process to identify public servants who are dedicated to advancing our vision of A New Day in Hawaii,” Gov. Abercrombie said in a statement.

“We cannot make positive change in Hawaii alone.  It takes many voices from diverse backgrounds to help build stronger communities.”

Information about all the boards and commissions, and application instructions are posted at http://hawaii.gov/gov/about/boards-commissions.html.

Four Seasons Maui Wins Best Luxury Award

Four Seasons Maui

The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea has won the Best Luxury award for the U.S. in the 2011 Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice awards. The designation is based on reviews and opinions posted online by travelers.

The hotel also took honors as the 10th best U.S. hotel.

The Four Seasons Resort Maui opened in 1990 and recently won an AAA Five Diamond Designation. The 15-acre oceanfront property has 370 rooms and suites.

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole to Surpass 6 Million in Sales

Mountain Apple Co., the record label for the late Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole, said the recording artists’ records are now being sold at Walmart stores.

Mountain Apple said the number of  IZ records sold is expected to quickly surpass the 6 million mark with the Walmart deal.

IZ fans across the United States can now shop for his record-breaking recordings, including “Facing Future” and “Wonderful World,” at Walmart stores in their own neighborhoods. Recently named one of “50 Great Voices” by National Public Radio, Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole is one of the most beloved recording artists to emerge from Hawaii in the past quarter-century. With new sales through Walmart, the Mountain Apple Company — IZ’s record label — estimates that his sales will quickly outpace the 6 million to-date total units sold in the United States.

The Honolulu-based record label said IZ was the number-one Billboard Digital World Recording Artist of the Year in 2010 while his hit “Over the Rainbow” was the number-one Billboard Digital World Song of the Year.

It said “Over the Rainbow” was recently declared the number-one single in Germany for 2010 and that the album “Facing Future” recently achieved platinum in Germany and France.

Ocean Resort to become Hyatt Place Waikiki

The 425-room Ocean Resort Hotel Waikiki will become the Hyatt Place Waikiki later this year as new owners of renovate and rebrand the property.

Chartres Lodging Group LLC and Morgan Stanley Real Estate bought the hotel on the Diamond Head end of Waikiki in December. They’ve signed a franchise agreement with Hyatt Hotels to rename the property as the first Hyatt Place hotel in Hawaii. Kokua Hospitality LLC will manage the 175 Paoakalani Ave. hotel and oversee its renovation and repositioning.

Hyatt introduced the Hyatt Place brand in 2006.

The Pacific Teacher Scholarship Fund Accepting Applications

The Pacific Teacher Scholarship Fund has begun accepting applications for the 2011-2012 school year.

The fund provides tuition assistance to students pursuing a teaching career in the U.S.-affiliated Pacific. The fund was founded by the Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) with a mission to increase the number of qualified teachers working in the Pacific region.

Each year, students are awarded scholarships ranging from $750 to $1,000.  The deadline for application is April 1.

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