Tuesday, April 17, 2001

strikes must be
resolved now

The issue: The conflict between the
teachers' unions and the state has
gone on since April 5.

HAWAII'S public education strikes have gone on long enough that no one will come out a winner -- not the students, not the parents, not the school teachers or university faculty, not Governor Cayetano, not the Democratic Party, not the unions, not the state's economy. No one.

Eight days of classroom work has been lost thus far and although the state and the unions appear to have moved from their entrenched positions, neither holds the high ground. The real sacrifice has been the education of our young people.

To avoid further damage, both sides should compromise, something each should have known was coming from the beginning, and for which they should have been prepared. While the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly have had public support in their strikes for higher pay until now, there are signs that patience is wearing thin. Parents worry about the effects on their children, university and community college students see their semester's work evaporate, business executives watch nervously as consumer spending drops off.

Educators keep returning to their contention that pay levels must reflect Hawaii's high cost of living if the state is to recruit and retain teachers. They should keep in mind that everyone who lives here pays a price for paradise. Pay is only part of the equation in recruiting teachers, according to Randy Hitz, dean of the University of Hawaii's College of Education. Hawaii's isolation is also a hindrance; some may find adjusting to a different lifestyle difficult; others find the distance from family too daunting.

Meanwhile, Governor Cayetano, who has shouldered most of the criticism for the walkouts, is feeling pressure from political allies who sense the strikes will be a troublesome issue in next year's elections. Who could fault the Republican Party for taking advantage of the prolonged labor conflict to rally opponents of the Democratic Party?

Cayetano has made some concessions to the unions but his tough demeanor may be undermining his arguments. A more temperate approach might reduce animosity between the unions and the state. The points of contention are complex and emotional and finding a way to resolve the conflict will not be easy.

As each day passes with classrooms empty of students and teachers, however, the cure for Hawaii's suffering educational system may become an increasingly bitter pill for everyone to swallow.

Review on racial profiling
of Asians isn’t conclusive

The issue: Energy Department review
concluded that scientists of Asian descent
were not subjected to racial profiling.

THE FAILURE to find racial profiling in a review of security at the U.S. Department of Energy reflects the limitations of the review rather than an accurate picture of the department. An effort launched earlier to eliminate racial bias should not be deterred by a report that no unfair treatment based on race had been found. The review was "limited to just four cases of scientists of Asian descent seeking security clearances" and was so narrow that it should be regarded as next to worthless.

The review was ordered last November by William Richardson, President Clinton's secretary of energy, in response to allegations in the case of Wen Ho Lee, a nuclear scientist who pleaded guilty to mishandling nuclear secrets at the Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory. The agreement was reached after the government failed to find evidence that Lee leaked secrets to China about an advanced nuclear warhead.

Earlier last year, an Energy Department commission compiled many reports of racial bias against Asian and Asian-American scientists at the department's laboratories.

The compilation resulted from charges brought against Lee, a naturalized American born in Taiwan. The commission found racial profiling and an "atmosphere of distrust and suspicion" toward Asian Americans at the laboratories.

Gregory H. Friedman, the department's inspector general, reported only four cases arising from formal complaints of discrimination and found "that they did not support concerns regarding unfair treatment based on national origin." Jeremy Wu, the department's ombudsman, declined to identify for Friedman several scientists with such complaints, citing confidentiality.

Friedman's reported that Wu "stated his belief that there are strong and continuing allegations about bias and profiling in the department." Those concerns included "alleged insensitive remarks and offensive attitudes; the appearance of double standards; questionable and ambiguous policies and rules; possible abuse of authority; (and) potential disparate treatment."

The inspector general's report should not be taken as indicating that racial prejudiced has been eliminated from the department. Friedman's report acknowledges that "factors beyond our control" may have resulted in "underreporting" cases involving racial profiling.

The Lee case obviously heightened sensitivity about racial profiling within the Energy Department and beyond. Spencer Abraham, the current secretary of energy, has declared that discrimination against employees will not be tolerated. He should implement plans made by former Secretary Richardson to eliminate racial profiling and then extend that policy to independent contractors dealing with the department.

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, President

John Flanagan, publisher and editor in chief 529-4748;
Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4762;

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