Ask Your Senator 2013: Thanks for Asking (Senator Ronald Kouchi)

As part of the 2013 Education Week “Ask Your Senator” program, a Kaua’i High School student submitted the following questions for his Senator, Senator Ronald Kouchi (District 8- Kaua’i, Ni’ihau):

• When you first stepped foot into your office, after being elected the first time, what was one of the first things that crossed your mind, if you can recall?
• What’s the best part of your job as a lawmaker?” -Dillon (Kaua’i High School)

After reading the student’s question, Senator Ronald Kouchi, vice president of the Hawaii State Senate, provided a video response to the student’s questions.  As part of his response, Senator Kouchi talks about one of the many reasons why he enjoys being a lawmaker, “I think the best thing is just being able to help people…”

To view video: http://youtu.be/RI_4GkBtiTw.

Ask Your Senator 2013: Thanks for Asking (Senator Russell Ruderman)

As part of the 2013 Education Week “Ask Your Senator” program, Senator Russell Ruderman (District 2- Kea‘au, Pahoa, Kalapana, Kapoho, Kurtistown, Mountain View, Glenwood, Volcano, Pahala) received several questions form students at Keonepoko Elementary School:

 I have questions about the problems in Puna. This has come to my thought that problems are growing bigger and bigger.  One of my questions is how will you stop drug abuse? People are starting lives with drugs. Another question is [how can you help] people [who are losing jobs] and lack of money for important needs?”

-Carlo (Keonepoko Elementary School)

Here are my questions:

  • Why did you want to become a Senator?
  • How will you make our neighborhood a safe place?
  • How will you make our schools better?

 

Thank you Senator Ruderman for taking time to read my letter and for making our neighborhood a nice place.”

 

-Sergio (Keonepoko Elementary School)

 

I have some questions for you:

  • How do you feel about the shooting in Puna?
  • How do you know that Hawaii is doing well?
  • Have you ever traveled around the world?
  • What did you feel when you became Senator?
  • Why do you want to be Senator?
  • What good things will you do?
  • Do you care about what you do for our community?

 

I hope you like my letter and I thank you for what you do for our community. I hope you answer my questions.”

-Nanea (Keonepoko Elementary School)

After reading the students’ question, Senator Russell Ruderman provided a video response to their questions.

As part of his response Senator Ruderman shared how he felt when he was elected into office, “It was very exciting. I was also very humbled by the support of my district and I’m very proud to represent the people of Puna…”

To view video: http://youtu.be/GQVKJzogE50.

Ask Your Senator 2013: Thanks for Asking (Senator Jill Tokuda)

As part of the 2013 Education Week “Ask Your Senator” program, a Kalaheo High School student submitted the following questions for her Senator, Senator Jill Tokuda (District 24- Kane’ohe, Kane’ohe MCAB, Kailua, He’eia, ‘Ahuimanu):

• How does one become a State Senator? What are their responsibilities?
• Besides submitting testimonies and attending hearings, how can high school students get involved in the legislature?”

-Hannah (Kalaheo High School)

After reading the student’s question, Senator Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, provided a video response to student’s question.

As part of her response Senator Tokuda shared the first step in the process of becoming a State Senator, “First of all, how does one become a Senator? You have to have a passion, obviously, for public service. So, you’ve got to prepare yourself to represent your constituents and put yourself on that ballot, take that very first step, run for office…”

To view video: http://youtu.be/9WSgL-YeMwg.

Ask Your Senator

Education Week at the State Capitol is right around the corner! This year marks the 10th anniversary of Education week, which will be held from March 18 to March 22. Organized by the Hawaii State Senate Committee on Education, this interactive week-long celebration honors the achievements and innovative efforts of our local schools, educators and various programs throughout the state from early childhood to the university level. Hawaii State Senators are once again taking the event to the classroom with the “Ask Your Senator” project, to find out what our future leaders want to know about their State. This is the second year of the “Ask Your Senator” project.

The concept behind the “Ask Your Senator” project is simple. We want to know what classrooms and students from across the State are thinking, by asking them to ask us, their Senators, a question. After the questions are collected, Senators will take the time to answer select questions through online videos, which will be shared with the students as well as with the wider community.

This project provides opportunity for students to lead the discussion, through student driven and student oriented questions. Students may take part of the “Ask Your Senator” project as a group (school or classroom) or as an individual student. The various ways you can participate are listed below. Questions will be collected between March 4th and March 13th. Once questions are selected, Senators will answer questions through videos which will be published online and sent back to the schools, classrooms, and individual students.

If you need help coming up with questions to ask, example questions could include topics in the areas such as: the legislative processes, issues or problems in your community, or general questions about the role of the legislature.

Ways to participate in “Ask Your Senator”

Email- Send your question (s) or video link to scomm@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Twitter- Use the hashtag #HIAskYourSen

Facebook- There are several ways you can send a message on Facebook:

* Share your message to the Hawaii Senate Majority Facebook page under the note Section, Ask Your Senator?
* Share your message with your Senator on their Facebook page.
YouTube/ Online Video- Email your YouTube/ Online video link to scomm@capitol.hawaii.gov.

If you would like your video to be shared on the Senate and Senate Caucuses’ webpages/ social media please complete the attached media release form: MEDIA RELEASE FORM (2013 Ask Your Senator)

Ask Your Senator 2012: Thanks for Asking

Eighth grade Social Studies students from Punahou School emailed several questions and issues to Senator Carol Fukunaga as part of  their class assignment, Project Citizen. The assignment asks the  students to identify an issue in their community, research the problem, develop and evaluate alternative solutions, and reach their own solution to the problem in the form of a public policy. Senator Carol Fukunaga (District 11- Makiki/Punchbowl, Ala Moana, McCully) answered the students’ questions.

One class group was interested in the issue of overdevelopment and its impact on Hawaii’s agricultural land and industry. Supporting the original version of Senate Resolution 104, the class asked for Senator Fukunaga’s support and input. In the resolution’s original form, it urged the counties to revise laws to reflect strategic land use practices for main street redevelopment in existing towns that support public transportation in order to accommodate the growing population of the State. As part of her answer, Senator Fukunaga explained how the original intent and concept of a measure can be altered through the legislative process.

To view Senator Fukunaga’s answer click here.

Another class group was interested in helping to solve the problem of coral damage through the prohibition of selling aquatic life for aquarium purposes. The class supported Senate Resolution 2, a measure which requested the Legislature to amend Chapter 188 (Hawaii Revised Statutes) by adding a new section to be appropriately designated to prohibiting the sale of aquatic life for aquarium purposes.  It also requests the Legislature to amend the existing section 188F-4, regarding the West Hawaii regional fishery management area plan, and section 189-11, regarding receipts in management area plan, and section 189-11, regarding receipts in duplicate.  In addition to those requests, the resolution asks the Governor to issue a moratorium on the commercial take and sale of aquatic life taken for aquarium purposes from State waters and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

To view Senator Fukunaga’s answer click here.

Interested in the impact overdevelopment of the North Shore may have on Oahu’s rural areas, small business owners, and Hawaii’s culture, one class group supported Senate Bill (SB) 1444. SB 1444, would have required the Department of Land and Natural Resources to develop a plan for the improvement of the water quality in Lake Wilson.

In working to find ways to resolve the problem, the class provided several creative solutions, including: the creation of educational television and radio commercials addressing the issue and development of collaborative contracts with local North Shore businesses to offer specialty bracelets to help show support.

To view Senator Fukunaga’s answer click here.

Ask Your Senator 2012: Thanks For Asking

Students from Central Middle School’s Student Government Association (SGA) emailed several questions to their Senator, Suzanne Chun Oakland (District 13- Sand Island, Kalihi, Liliha, Nu’uanu, Pauoa, Pu’unui) as part of this year’s “Ask Your Senator” project. Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland sat down to share her thoughts and answers to to some of the students’ questions.

Why is the gas prices going up and is there anything that can be done to address this?”
-Central Middle School Student

To view the Senator’s answer to this question, click here.

1. Is there anything Senator Chun Oakland can do to relocate the Methadone Clinic directly across from our school on Kukui Street?
2. What about the homeless population frequenting Kamamalu park on Vineyard Blvd.?”

-Central Middle School Student

To view the Senator’s answer to this question, click here.

Central Middle School would like to invite Senator Chun Oakland to speak with our SGA. If and when time permits, can she visit our school to speak with our SGA office/ students?”

-Central Middle School Student

To view the Senator’s answer to this question, click here.

How is the rail project coming along?”

-Central Middle School Student

To view the Senator’s answer to this question, click here.

Is there a way to reduce taxes?”

-Central Middle School Student

To view the Senator’s answer to this question, click here.

Ask Your Senator 2012: Thanks For Asking

Students from Roosevelt High School’s Participation in Democracy class emailed several questions to their State Senators as part of this year’s “Ask Your Senator” project. Questions asked were derived from the students’ participation in the class’s assignment, Project Citizen. The assignment asks students to identify an issue in their community, research the problem, develop and evaluate alternative solutions, and reach their own solution to the problem in the form of a public policy. Together, Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland (District 13-Sand Island, Kalihi, Liliha, Nu’uanu, Pauoa, Pu’unui) and Senator Carol Fukunaga (District 11- Makiki/Punchbowl, Ala Moana, McCully) sat down to answer the students’ questions.

A group of students were interested in pedestrian safety on Nehoa Street, which is near their school. One student asked:

My group and I are currently doing a Project Citizen assignment regarding the crosswalk near our stadium, located on Nehoa St. There are no lights to signal drivers or pedestrians when they should stop or cross. We are thinking of alternate solutions that would catch the driver’s attention to prevent drivers from hitting pedestrians as they cross the street. We would like your support in pushing our policy through. Do you know of any possible solutions that we can create to solve our problem?” -Roosevelt High School Student

To view the Senators’ answers to this question, click here.

A handful of students were interested in the qualification requirements for current decision makers in the Department of Education (DOE). Specifically, one student asked:

We are doing Project Citizen in my Participation in Democracy class. We hope that we may be able to alter the way decisions are made about schools. We have come up with an issue that the decision makers are not highly qualified and do not have classroom experience. Our proposal is that before becoming a decision maker of the DOE, you must achieve an educational degree and gain classroom experience. That way, the members in charge of decisions for the schools are able to decide with knowledge, the appropriate actions to take in ways that would improve and benefit students and teachers for the better. Without experience in the classroom, decision makers are blind in what would be best.

What do you think of our issue and proposal?” -Roosevelt High School Student

To view the Senators’ answers to this question, click here.

One group of students were interested in addressing the increasing dropout rate of high school students in the State of Hawaii, explaining:

There is an issue that we would like to approach for Project Citizen. The number of high school students who are dropping out of school are increasing in the State of Hawaii. We feel this would be an appropriate issue for us to address to help our community get involved more with our high school students. We would like to see more student graduate from high school, so that they have a greater chance in getting into college, hence, better jobs, especially for our local kids. We would like to ask how you feel about this issue and whether or not you agree with that this topic is a big issue in the state of Hawaii.” -Roosevelt High School Student

To view the Senators’ answers to this question, click here.

One group of students were interested in offering vocational classes as electives, explaining:

As the students of Roosevelt High School, we are conducting a research project to prepare our graduates for a better future in collegiate and workforce careers. Our plan is to have more vocational classes offered as electives. We’re proposing classroom work time for the first semester and then going to community colleges/business schools for hands-on experience for the second semester.

We are asking for your support and we would also like your opinions and feedback on our pursuit for this change.” -Roosevelt High School Student

To view the Senators’ answers to this question, click here.

A group of students were interested in reinstating their school’s tradition of the senior patio. One student explained:

Me and my period 6 social studies class are working on Project Citizen. We want to bring back the tradition of the senior patio being exclusively for seniors so that next year the seniors can sit down in their own area and eat their lunch together. They can feel a sense of accomplishment that they earned to sit at the senior patio from their 3 years of hard work. That’s why we want to bring back the tradition. I was wondering if you can support us in reinforcing the tradition of the senior patio, and maybe even give us any suggestions.” -Roosevelt High School Student

To view the Senators’ answers to this question, click here.

Ask Your Senator 2012: Thanks For Asking

As part of this year’s ask your Senator project, students from Nanakuli High and Intermediate School emailed in several questions to their State Senator, Senator Maile Shimabukuro (District 21 Ko ‘Olina, Kahe Point, Nanakuli, Ma’ili, Wai’anae, Makaha, Makua, Ka’ena Point).

Actively participating in this year’s inaugural Ask Your Senator Project Nanakuli High and Intermediate School students submitted over 20 video questions, the most questions received from any school or district.

After listing to all of the students’ questions, Senator Maile Shimabukuro shared her response to the following selection of questions.

Why don’t you guys take a pay cut instead of taking it from schools?” – Nanakuli High and Intermediate School Student


To view Senator Maile Shimabukuro’s response click here.

1. If our school does not get the right amount of credits to graduate by the year 2015, then what is going to happen?
2. What will you guys do with the students?
3. Are you guys going to make a new school in the area, because Kapolei and Waianae are already crowded as it is?

I was just wondering these things and our school does have a lot of talented and smart people…

- Nanakuli High and Intermediate School Student


To view Senator Maile Shimabukuro’s response click here.

Why do we have insufficient school funds?” – Nanakuli High and Intermediate School Student


To view Senator Maile Shimabukuro’s response click here.

I would like to ask you guys if you could buy or school sports new uniforms and equipment.” – Nanakuli High and Intermediate School Student


To view Senator Maile Shimabukuro’s response click here.

Why don’t we have surfing as a sport at Nanakuli High School?” – Nanakuli High and Intermediate School Student


An avid surfer, Senator Maile Shimabukuro provided a video response. To view her response click here.

Why did they change the time we finish school?” – Nanakuli High and Intermediate School Student


To view Senator Maile Shimabukuro’s response click here.

Why can’t we go on YouTube? I think we should be able to go on YouTube because on YouTube we can get so much information for school projects and there is so much information on YouTube, it’s just like Google.” – Nanakuli High and Intermediate School Student


To view Senator Maile Shimabukuro’s response click here.

Ask Your Senator 2012: Thanks for Asking…


Students at this year’s “Pizza and Policy” event held at the Hawaii State Capitol, were among the first ever to submit questions for Education Week’s inaugural “Ask Your Senator” project.

As part of the 2012 Education Week “Ask Your Senator” project, a student from Roosevelt High School posed several questions to the Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Jill Tokuda, about the power of students’ voices. He asked:

Are students, in Hawaii, are they really heard? Are the really recognized as the one significant part of the Hawaii State Legislature?… You guys talk about education, but are (legislators) talking about themselves instead of about students or teachers in the classroom?- Roosevelt High School student.

As part her answer, Senator Jill Tokuda, said ” I think that’s an outstanding question. And the easiest answer and simplest answer would be for me to say absolutely you have a voice.”

To view video click here.

Ask Your Senator 2012: Thanks for Asking…

Students at this year’s “Pizza and Policy” event held at the Hawaii State Capitol, were among the first ever to submit questions for Education Week’s inaugural “Ask Your Senator” project.

As part of this year’s “Ask Your Senator” project a senior at Punahou posed a question about the affordability of college, a concern shared by many high school seniors. Her family had recently undergone some significant economic hardships. Drawing from a her experience, the student asked:

My question is about college and paying for it, especially after I graduate from undergrad. I am the youngest of four, and my dad got let go of his job last year. And so we through a year of being supported by my mom… I’m just wondering what the government is doing to protect kids like me, to go to college and even after getting to college?” -Punahou High School student.

After listening to the student’s question, Senator Jill Tokuda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education responded. Here’s part of her response, “I would tell her that she really needs to take a look at the range of federal student loan programs that are available to her.”

To view video click here.

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