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Saturday, February 26, 2000

Accountability in schools is essential

Current bills on accountability before the Legislature are enormously important. They will determine whether the standards agenda pursued for the last several years can work.

A year and a half ago, Hawaii named a schools superintendent who made it quite plain that the standards and accountability approach constituted his vision and platform. The accountability he sought to bring via standards has three pillars:

Bullet The actual determining of how well all students are achieving.
Bullet The widespread dissemination of that information with respect to all schools.
Bullet The taking of appropriate action with respect to schools that are not succeeding -- i.e., actually doing something about school failure to prevent its continuance.

Unless the superintendent is able to follow through on all three of these pillars of accountability, he cannot fulfill the mandate he was given.

Intervention and sanctions are a part of the accountability package. If we submit them to negotiation and collective bargaining, they cannot occur as needed.

Then we will once again be giving an interest group veto power over school reform. It will also mean one more mangled attempt to improve Hawaii's schools.

Mary Anne Raywid
Affiliate Faculty
College of Education, University of Hawaii-Manoa

Story on singer was tribute to cause

Leila Fujimori's poignant Feb. 21 story about musician Mackey Feary's one-year memorial service was the type of outstanding reporting that readers of the Star-Bulletin have come to expect.

Feary, in life, inspired many. In death, he became a martyr for the cause of prison reform and the need for a greater understanding of those suffering from depression and drug addiction.

His sister, Dancetta, said it best: "If we can save one person, one family, from going through what we did, then his death was not in vain. We want people to recognize that people are sick, and throwing them in prison is not going to help. We need more programs."

All I can add is, "Amen"

James V. Hall



"My partner is Hawaiian and white. I'm Samoan and black. If (we) can get along without no problems, we don't see why everybody can't get along the same."

Who, along with Papa T, is part of the musical duo calling itself B.E.T. (Big Every Time)
On the philosophy of the partnership

"When you're at your weakest, you can see how God can work."

Emmanuel Robbins
Roosevelt high school senior
One of 50 young people from Christ United Methodist Church who began a 30-hour fast starting at noon yesterday to gain insight into the hunger suffered by millions around the world

Cayetano should live next to facility

When did we change from a democracy into a dictatorship?

For the past year, the state Department of Health and Cayetano administration have been working to establish a treatment facility for juvenile sex offenders at Waimano Home in Pearl City.

In their benevolent judgment, it is OK to place such a facility in the middle of a residential neighborhood right next to two public schools. Furthermore, they decided not to tell the public about it until renovations began.

We don't expect a hearing on everything that government does. But this is a major facility and departure from what we currently have at Waimano Home.

Governor, you knew this would be controversial so your administration hid it until it was a done deal. Why don't you move back home to Pearl City? We could renovate one of the buildings right next to the treatment facility where you and your family could reside.

Thomas Kam

Benetton is wrong to glorify murderers

Our organization is protesting fashion giant Benetton's advertising campaign featuring death row inmates on billboards worldwide. We urge citizens to remember the heinous crimes committed by these killers.

Parents of Murdered Children does not take a stand on the death penalty. But we don't see this ad campaign so much as a death penalty issue, but as one marketing murder for profit.

Benetton is trying to get attention in whatever manner it can, regardless of the pain to survivors.

Terri Scott
Parents of Murdered Children

Electric utilities should be owned by consumers

It's great to see Kauai Electric become customer-owned. We should develop the legal framework, tax breaks and sources of financing to gradually transfer Hawaii's other electric utilities to customer ownership.

Investor-owned utilities cannot support efforts to increase energy efficiency and replace imported oil with local, renewable, environmentally friendly alternatives, unless they increase return to shareholders.

Recent technological advances in fuel cells may soon make it cost effective for more consumers to generate more of their own electricity. But if our electric companies remain investor-owned, they may try to prevent this.

Tom Brandt

Library collections are up to date

It's bad enough our public libraries have been taking it on the chin for several years now, due mainly to the Legislature's refusal to give the library a dedicated book budget. But it's also distressing when people like Dave Shapiro (Volcanic Ash, Jan. 29) lay a bad rap on librarians, implying that we are not keeping collections up to date.

It's easy to go into the library catalog, find a bunch of old titles and claim that this is all that's available. Yes, some old titles have not been weeded out. But the new editions are also there. To use Shapiro's examples:

Bullet "The most recent college financial aid handbook dated to 1991." Wrong. Numerous libraries have the 1999 edition. Also, there are seven copies of "Scholarships and Financial Aid Available to High School Graduates in the State of Hawaii 1999" at the main library alone and six copies of the 2000 edition.
Bullet "The most recent guide to Social Security benefits was from 1989-90." Wrong. Numerous libraries have the benefits handbook for 1998.

As for the 1989 Corporate Finance Sourcebook, we also have the 1997 and 1999 editions. When it comes to "foreign affairs," World Resources 1988 has very little to do with foreign affairs, but relates to natural resources and the environment. For information on foreign governments, try the "CIA's World Factbook" 1998 or 1999 editions.

Yes, the library's ability to serve the public is severely tested by the lack of a book budget (we depend on overdue fines and other fees to finance book purchases). But please don't make it sound like librarians are sitting on their hands and not doing their jobs.

Mr. Shapiro, the next time you're in the library, ask one of us to show you how to use the library's catalog.

Jim Long
Language, Literature & History Section
Hawaii State Library

Let 'Baywatch Hawaii' relocate if it must

After all the hype put out by the "Baywatch Hawaii" backers, some of which was later repudiated, David Shapiro got it right in his Feb. 19 column. A "Hawaii 5-0," it is not!

Send the show back to L.A. or Australia, if either will take it. There's been no proof that "Baywatch" has done anything for Hawaii, other than cause embarrassment.

Besides being all too ready to break their commitments, they threaten to close down the show and think they can dig into our pockets at will. What arrogance!

We have plenty to offer other productions willing to meet us halfway. Let "Baywatch" go; surely, it's a watch we don't need.

Bette Berry

Schools are being coerced into spending more money

Recent letters to the editor suggest the Kamehameha Schools should do more to educate Hawaiian children. People seem to think it is a cash cow, since it has $6 billion in assets and a record profit of $459.7 million in 1999.

While the interim trustees are increasing spending on education, I hope they use caution in their expenditures. Pressure is being put on them to spend more money.

May I remind everyone that the schools are a perpetual trust? Therefore, some of the assets must be preserved for future use. To go on a spending spree to improve the schools' image is foolish.

Kamehameha Schools don't have nor should they have the responsibility of educating every Hawaiian child in the state. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has received millions of dollars in ceded land revenues; what is it doing with that money?

Ultimately, the state has the responsibility to educate children, whether Hawaiian or not. The schools should be viewed as a partner in education, not the only source of funding for it.

Brendan Char
Kamehameha Schools, Class of 1990
Fullerton, Calif.

Price of gas may be pumping upward soon

Here we go again. Because of increased oil prices, gasoline prices on the mainland are said to be going up to $1.60-$1.70 a gallon.

Does that mean that mainland prices will catch up to those in Hawaii, or that local gas distributors will inflate our prices to maybe $1.90 or $2 a gallon? Lucky you pay Hawaii.

Roger A. Hutchings

Gays have always been in the military

That was an interesting Feb. 15 letter from Clifford Robinson. He wrote that openly gay people should not be in the military. But if Robinson was in the military, he served with many gays. How did they get in? They were drafted!

When I served in the Korean conflict, I met many gay men, but they never bothered me, even though I was very young and good looking. Frankly, I think a lot of former military men are protesting a bit too much about this.

Bob King
Eleele, Kauai

Horses could tell some nightmarish stories

Your Feb. 21 story about Bill Northern being able to communicate with animals was truly fascinating.

As an animal-rights advocate, I would like to ask Northern to talk to those unfortunate mares who spend their entire lives pregnant, imprisoned in stalls and producing the urine used for making Premarin. How do these mares feel about their fate, about having their foals taken away shortly after birth, and about being artificially impregnated again and again until they wear out?

Horses are truly intelligent, feeling creatures not all that much different from humans. They need to be treated with more compassion and respect.

Eva Martin

Soccer fans get kick out of Chase column

Because our three daughters have been involved with various soccer leagues for over 18 years, I want to thank Al Chase for his weekly soccer column. We can't wait to read his Thursday commentaries to catch up on what's going on with our friends, locally and on the mainland.

I cut the articles out to share and even post clippings at work or church, if it involves someone we know.

Every year, there are more than 16,000 registered soccer players in the state, ages 4 to 18. The numbers for men and women in leagues are large in comparison to other adult sports.

The Jan. 27 column about Iris Lancaster was typical of what we like to read. It also makes us proud of our kids and the quality of our coaches and local programs.

Walt S. Miyashiro


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