Editor’s Page: It’s Complicated

Education, homelessness and sweet things.
Photo: Adam Jung

Life in Honolulu is complicated.


And that’s why our magazine this month delves into such an interesting mix of topics.  Our cover story on “Grading the Public Schools” (page 50 in the magazine) has been a staple of the magazine for years. Handing out grades won’t win us any popularity contests.  And we know full well that rankings are inherently flawed. Some schools end up at the top and some rate lower as a result of a confluence of factors, but we persist because readers tell us they rely on the annual guide to help make important family decisions.


As I look across our team—in editorial, art, sales, circulation—I know that many of us are graduates of Hawai‘i public schools. (I’m a Kalāheo High alum.) And while that doesn’t make us better or worse than our colleagues who attended private schools, I believe it gives us an appreciation of the treasures as well as the troubles in Hawai‘i’s school system. We hope the chart provides a useful snapshot of the schools in our community.


Alongside the rankings this year, we’re happy to provide a deeper look at important policy decisions that are reshaping the educational system. Writer Loren Moreno uses his background in covering Hawai‘i education to explore the new teacher evaluations in “Making the Grade” (page 57 in the magazine). He reports how these teacher report cards are changing the way teachers teach.  We also went directly to seven of the state’s top public school teachers and asked them to share their wisdom (page 59 in the magazine). In this issue, I’m happy to welcome writer Mary Vorsino to our magazine. She has years of experience covering education and other key community issues, and that’s why we have her writing about schools and life on the streets.


You only have to drive through Kaka‘ako, Downtown or Waikīkī to realize how homelessness in Honolulu has grown, pushing our state to the highest number of homeless per capita in the nation.  And our cost of living means that many of us may be just two paychecks away from being homeless. Mary examined this issue (page 36 in the magazine), talking to families and individuals who never thought they’d be living on the streets or in their cars. Her report gives us insight into the problem and some of the solutions in the works.


We also take a closer look at homelessness through the eyes of a photographer who is also a concerned daughter. Diana Kim’s social concern for the homeless turned sharply personal when she found her then-estranged father on the streets of Honolulu (page 44 in the magazine). Diana shares this very personal story in the hope of shining more light on this issue and getting people help they need.


Fruits and berries in white wine gel from Café Laufer.
Photo: Steve Czerniak

On a sweeter note, writer Catherine Toth Fox takes us to a “Sweet Spot”—specifically Kaimukī. Long known for its bakeries, the community has seen an upswing in various confectionaries in recent years, with a dessert epicenter near Wai‘alae and 12th avenues. These streets now offer freshly made gelato, epic cheesecake, chocolate pyramids, scones, lemon bars and nougat as well as a banana-Oreo torte. This piece gives us not just a craving for the food, but an appreciation of the people behind the places profiled.


What do all these have in common?


Just a few of the many facets of Honolulu in April.


Read More Stories by Robbie Dingeman