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Friday, April 14, 2000

Tapa


Greater educational expectations

Powerful forces resist changes for teachers

Improving teacher quality seems like a great idea.

But what about the Hawaii State Teachers Association, which will resist any change, and protect any teacher, incompetent or not? What about the fact that nearly every teacher lacks any training in teaching special-needs kids, who make up 20-40 percent of each classroom?

Are we, as a state, Parent Teacher Student Organization and HSTA ready to raise requirements and ask present teachers to requalify for their jobs? Not a bad idea, and essential to changing our public schools for the better.

J.Sing
Waimea, Hawaii

Teachers have more to worry about than teaching

Quality teachers are not the only key to the success of public schools in Hawaii. With crime on the rise in public schools today, teachers fear the possibility of having their cars bashed or their families disturbed because of unruly students.

Students play a big role in the success of a school, as it is their choice to learn or not to learn. For example, look at home schoolers. Their only teachers are their parents, who probably don't even have degrees in education. Yet, these students seem to do better than the ones in public schools.

There are many good teachers in Hawaii, with the exception of a few boring ones, and most are highly dedicated to their work. So next time, don't be so quick to pass judgment on teachers. They are among the lowest paid professionals and yet everyone seems to blame them when education goes wrong.

Celine Chun

Students must be held accountable, too

The reason public school test scores are so low is students aren't made to be accountable for their learning. Furthermore, there is little support for the teachers who do try to make students accept the responsibility for their own learning.

In our community, parents have learned that all they have to do when their kids get poor grades is to complain to the principal. Then the grades are changed or students are moved to different classes. If the principal tries to hold the line, he/she is pressured by the district and state not to have so many suspensions or low grades. Even legislators and judges don't help us out.

If you want higher test scores, loopholes need to be closed so students get involved and participate in their own learning. Smaller class size, more technology and higher pay for teachers are all nice amenities, but they're not the only answer.

Are you familiar with a program called Tough Love? If not, please get the book and read it. We need to apply these same principles to our education system.

Sharon Dumas
Teacher

Tapa

Cal Kawamoto is no John Burns

I read with great interest the April 10 letter by G.A. "Red" Morris supporting Sen. Cal Kawamoto. I have a fair amount of admiration for Mr. Morris. However, in this case, he is a little off the mark.

There are people in Waipahu and Pearl City who believe that the words "quiet, gentle, unassuming and integrity" may not necessarily apply to the good senator. If one would delve deeper into Kawamoto's past performance, a different persona would appear.

Sorry, Red, it's more than just a simple case of not agreeing with the man. Your comparison of Cal Kawamoto to John Burns, George Ariyoshi and others does a disservice to their memory.

Kelly Westfield
Waipahu

Don't let legislation to ban fireworks fizzle out

Sen. Cal Kawamoto and Rep. Eric Hamakawa should not let the fireworks issue and bills related to it die in committee. This is an urgent safety issue for all. If any person is injured, hospitalized or even dies due to fireworks accidents or breathing difficulties, legislators will be held responsible for not doing their duty.

Please. We must put people before money and "fun," and legislate a ban with the exception of religious and cultural use. New Year's Eve should be joyous and safe for everyone.

Suzanne Teller

Retirees must stand up for their benefits

Politicians, please leave the state Employees' Retirement System out of your plans to help support other state and county agencies. Retirees like me have had our five-year bonus eliminated and now other benefits may be cut, like medical coverage. What's next?

We retirees should get more than a 2.5 percent yearly increase in our pension because the amount doesn't even come close to keeping up with the increase in the cost of living in our state.

What we need is a law that protects the system for the benefit of its members or, better yet, a private trust to administer the ERS. This would eliminate the state's license to steal from the fund.

Maybe if we approximately 80,000 members could get our votes together, like other unions in the state, we could convince the politicians to keep their hands off the ERS. That money is intended for retirees and future retirees, not to save politicians who don't know how to budget their own funds.

Floyd Burns
Pearl City

Don't fiddle with retirees' medical coverage

Governor Cayetano wants to change the state retirees' health plan. One of the so-called solutions was to have the Employees' Retirement System pick up some of the cost.

Prior to 1997, the state and counties benefited in the amount of $1.2 billion from what is known as "skimming." This in turn led to an unfunded liability of from $749 million in 1987 to $1.2 billion in 1996. In 1997 a law did away with future skimming. This was done so the pension fund could rebuild itself and reduce the unfunded amount.

Then in 1999, Act 100 was passed, which again allowed skimming. So much for the 1997 law! But this time there were promises that this would be the last time.

Would you bet your bank account on a politician's promise? If so, you'd end up a very poor person.

The government should listen to the ERS board of trustees since it's their job to run the system with an eye to future payouts. I suspect they know more than the Legislature about how the future looks and how to prepare for it.

I'm a City & County of Honolulu retiree living on the mainland, not because my wife and I had a great urge to do so but simply because, like others, we could not afford to live in Hawaii without both of us continuing to work full time.

Edward C. Richter
Port Richey, Fla.

Artifacts shouldn't have been in museum

With all due respect, let us remember that the so-called "Forbes Cave" collection of artifacts are sacred burial objects, moepu, that should never have been put into a museum in the first place. Calling them artifacts designated by the name of the man who illegally removed them from their burial place borders on profanity.

Furthermore, to suggest that a price be assigned to these sacred objects trivializes the religious and spiritual significance of the objects themselves and of the burial practices followed by generations.

The argument that we owe it to future generations to study and display these moepu is equally flawed. The Hawaiian culture is a dynamic living culture. To study our culture, we have only to look to our kumu and kahuna and to engage in our traditional practices.

We do not need to place our sacred objects on a shelf so that they can be prodded and measured and studied -- divorced from their true value in the context of our cultural practices.

It is imperative that we show respect for sacred objects and the practices of which they are a part to truly study their meaning and their cultural significance.

E kala mai. This is not intended to hurt or offend anyone, nor do any wrong.

Keoni Agard, Ihilani Chu,
Moses K.N. Haia III, Mike Hikalea,
Bumpy Kanahele, Leona Kalima
and Ho'oipo Pa

Museum should be grateful for caring staff

As a former employee of Bishop Museum, I support and commend those current staff members who questioned the propriety of the recent loan of the Forbes Cave objects. Their letter, signed by 21 employees in various museum departments, was addressed to the director, not to the public or the media.

In return for their concern about professional ethics and museum procedures (which have been developed over time to ensure cross checks and legal actions), they have been rebuked and threatened with letters of censure to be placed in their personnel files. Many of them fear for their jobs or careers.

An administration truly concerned with its mission as trustee of the culture should be grateful for staffers who uphold the highest standards, rather than allowing the influence of a particular interest group to corrupt professional ethics.

Bishop Museum administrators need to take a long, hard look at the Code of Ethics for Museums, which they support in theory as members of the American Association of Museums. I salute the courage of the employees who continue to uphold those standards.

Janet G. Ness
Kaneohe

We can be either 'global' or 'local' -- not both

A professor recently asked me if I thought it was possible to be "global" and "local" at the same time. I decided it depends on one's definition of local.

To me, being local is a lifestyle that includes a limited amount of stress and leisure activity. It means being content with what I have and not wanting to bite into the concept of "bigger, better, more."

Can we be globally competitive and yet remain local? That's like asking for one's cake and ice cream at the same time.

To become global means we must give up some of our local comforts (I'm not just referring to taking our shoes off at the front door), and it seems to me that we have already given more than our share.

Ipo Freitas
Hilo


Quotables

Tapa

"They will have to find some
other governor to run this prison,
if it is going to be a state-run prison
...because I won't do it."

Governor Cayetano

Refusing to back down from his support of
building a privately run prison, either
locally or on the mainland

Tapa

"On the track, we are all the
same size. The kids often drive better
than their parents. The adults just
know how to cheat better."

Greg Pack
OAHU BOXCAR RACING ENTHUSIAST

About the action at the American Box Car Racing
International track on Waimano Home Road
in Pearl City, which draws "kids" of all ages.


Flag must be protected from desecrators

A response to Star-Bulletin Editor and Publisher John Flanagan's April 1 column, "Burn flags, not freedoms," is necessary. Perhaps he doesn't realize that millions of citizens across this great country signed petitions asking for passage of the flag desecration amendment. In fact, over the past couple of years, studies have shown that 76 percent of thousands polled do NOT believe this amendment violates freedom of speech.

Flanagan refers to the amendment as sanctimonious, and a flagrant, perennial, grandstanding, election-year boondoggle. Obviously he, along with Hawaii's congressional delegation, once again think they know the will of the people and what is good for them better than the citizens do.

Forty-nine states have passed resolutions in favor of this amendment, including Hawaii. Why don't they listen to us? The flag is a symbol of all that we believe in, and should be protected.

Fred Ballard
Secretary
Oahu Veterans Council

Singers shouldn't distort national anthems

Last week, prior to the University of Hawaii Rainbows volleyball matches with Lewis, two young ladies tried to sing our national anthem. For whatever reason, they both rewrote the music, wandering all over the scale in their renditions. Why?

I've noted that this is never done when the state anthem, Hawaii Pono'i, is sung. The same respect should be shown for the singing of both anthems.

James D. Kozlowski

Criticism of sub's name is unfounded

In his April 11 letter, Ikaika M.L. Hussey objects to the U.S. Navy naming a "war machine" the USS Hawaii because it is "an attempt to Americanize this Hawaii of ours." Aside from the fact that Hawaii is America and America is Hawaii, maybe we should take a page from early Hawaiian history under Kamehameha the Great. How about naming this sub the USS Pali Lookout to commemorate the merciless and total warfare that took place up in those mountains? What a great name for an attack sub!

Seriously, though, Hussey's objections will have about as much effect as when a few opposed the naming of the USS Honolulu. Similarly, some Catholics objected to a sub being christened the USS Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) after a city in Texas; that went nowhere, too.

I suggest Hussey resign himself to the Navy's tradition of honoring American cities and states by naming subs after them. For him or anyone else to claim that they "own" certain words or names is just another form of elitist censorship.

Kevin Gagan
Mililani

Name of submarine honors Hawaii

As a fellow Hawaii resident and a proud citizen of the United States, I am saddened by Ikaika M.L. Hussey's display of ignorance in protesting the naming of the new Virginia-class submarine, the USS Hawaii (Letters, April 11).

While the issue of the legality behind the integration of Hawaii into the union is at hand, we must not forget the dedication of those who put their lives on the line so that we may breathe another day.

In our rashness to decide the constitutionality of the occupation and eventual admission of Hawaii into the United States, we must not forget to pay homage to those who shed their blood in battles in Italy, France, Japan and Vietnam.

Mr. Hussey, please don't denigrate the memory, sacrifice and, most important, the honor that should be paid to the men and women who serve in our armed forces. To have a ship dedicated to our state shows the gratitude of our country. Don't you think we have earned it?

Reid Seino
Junior, University of Oregon
Eugene, Ore.

Fire chief is generous with others' money

I note that the Honolulu fire chief advocates sprinkler systems installed in all high-rise buildings. When told it would be very, very expensive, he responded that money was not relevant when human life was at stake.

Since even the fire chief would have to admit that money is limited -- there is just not all that we want or need just laying there to be picked up and used -- then let's ask him to contribute to the effort. How about a voluntary 50 percent cut in all firefighters' paychecks to help defray the cost.

What? He objects?

But Chief, you said that money was no object, that human life is at stake. What changed your mind, sir?

Richard O. Rowland
Aiea

Hawaiians really are 'Third World' statistics

On April 7, the Star-Bulletin ran my letter to the editor. I had written that "Hawaiians still suffer from Third World socio-economic statistics." However, it was edited to say, "Hawaiians still suffer as if they are Third World socio-economic statistics."

It's not "as if" -- it is so. If you don't believe me, check for yourself and ask people like Drs. Terry Shintani, Emmett Aluli and Kekuni Blaisdell.

Steve Tayama

Blame for Pearl bombing rests on Japan alone

I found one particular comment in the Star-Bulletin's April 3 article on the making of the Disney movie, "Pearl Harbor," to be very disturbing.

One of the actors said this was not going to be a movie about right or wrong, good or bad, and that Japan was experiencing economic problems prior to the attack in 1941.

Many countries experience economic problems. But does that give them the right to carry out a sneak attack on another country and murder and injure thousands of innocent people?

Some try to displace blame for the attack on Pearl Harbor by saying that Japan was merely trying to stop Western expansion to Asia. Others say U.S. military leaders erred because they were ill prepared for the enemy.

The real culprit was Japan. It was clearly the aggressor.

Sylvia Ching



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