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Saturday, September 1, 2001



Count special-ed kids in teacher-pupil ratio

There is a ruling from the state that the number of teachers hired at any given school -- and therefore, the number of classes opened -- is determined by the number of students enrolled at that school. The same goes for the hiring of a vice principal or counselor.

Yet within any school, students receiving special education services are not included in that count. There is an inclusion law that provides for these students to be with their peers in a regular education classroom as much as possible.

Why can't we count these students when the students of the gifted and talented program or the English-as-a-second-language learners program are counted? Why are the special education students still being discriminated against even though they are here in our classes being serviced?

We've got many of the best teachers at our school. Our curriculum shows it. But as a result of the numbers game, my principal has had to close two of our classrooms -- called a classroom reduction. One of the grade levels affected went from three classes to two; the student-teacher ratio in one of these classes is 30 to 1. We also will be losing our vice principal.

When the reason for losing personnel is because of the numbers, we've forgotten about making education in this state second to none at the most important level -- the classroom.

Johnette Maielua
Parent/Community Networking Center Facilitator
Hahaione Elementary School

Hawaii should catch up on special education

Michael is my 52-year-old mentally retarded son. He has lived in Hawaii for 34 years, following his first 18 years in Washington state. He attended special-education classes there beginning at the age of 7.

He was also offered athletic opportunities and social events such as dances, picnics and other field trips. Today he can do many things he would not have accomplished without this help.

Why is it, then, that Hawaii is having such difficulty 34 years later with the Felix consent decree? It has to be incompetence, self-serving politicians and total confusion.

Stop passing the buck and dragging your feet, Hawaii, and give these children the opportunity to learn and accomplish what they can through special education, now before it is too late for them. You are only 34 years behind the times. That silent cry that Laura Brown speaks of in her Aug. 21 letter is getting louder.

Patricia M. Volberding

Gabbard should resign from board

Is anyone surprised that Carol Gabbard's political campaign made use of organizations that she and her husband founded and run? Her husband runs organizations that focus on only one issue -- homosexuality. Carol Gabbard only focuses on one issue -- homosexuality.

I've read her campaign spending reports published on the state Campaign Spending Commission's Web site. It seems pretty clear that something questionable is going on. In fact, it is so obvious, I am not sure why a private citizen had to file the complaint.

Doesn't the commission look at the reports being filed by candidates? And why does Robert Watada, commission director, feel that the charges aren't worth pursuing because they are "nothing that would rise to the level of a major violation?" Is he saying that we shouldn't pursue any crime unless it is a major crime?

School boards are supposed to be made up of individuals who care about our public schools, our students, our teachers and doing what is best to ensure our children receive a good education. Gabbard's violations and focus on right-wing religious politics rather than true educational concerns makes me think it might be best if she resigns so the board can get on with its real business.

Justin Leach


[QUOTABLES]

"We want people to know we're out there. That way, maybe would-be street racers will take the weekend off."
Maj. Robert Prasser,
Head of the Honolulu Police Department Traffic Division, on stepped-up traffic patrols through the Labor Day weekend in the aftermath of a traffic fatality Sunday that police believe was caused by street racing.


"The whole incident was traumatic, but (it) really showed me that the human spirit is alive and well in the military and civilian communities in Hawaii."
Monica Dominski,
Army wife whose family was displaced by a fire that swept through Aliamanu Military Housing two weeks ago, on the outpouring of help from both civilian and military groups.


We can slam religion, but not glorify it

I've had it with the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of some groups in this state when it comes to the separation of church and state.

Just a few weeks ago, the Board of Education considered teaching creationism in science class in public schools. Immediately, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church threatened lawsuits should the vote go in favor of creationism. Several years ago another organization worked hard to get the cross at Fort Shafter taken down.

Now Honolulu Hale decides that a painting of a crucified naked woman might just be a tad offensive, and all of a sudden, the ACLU says it should stay because removing it would violate the artist's freedom of speech. But I'm betting that if someone had painted something glorifying God or celebrating Christianity, and that was removed, the ACLU wouldn't complain. In fact, it would probably sue to have it taken down.

Is Christianity that much of a threat to our civil liberties?

Do the Citizens for Separation of State and Church spend their days looking for things that might give a church power in the government? What about when the statues of Ku were placed at Fort DeRussy? That's a religious icon, on federal land, erected with federal money, but not a peep from them.

It just seems like we're free to insult the Judeo-Christian church, but not to glorify it.

Fletcher Young

Fasi may be ready for a comeback

Considering the disclosed potential candidates for mayor of Honolulu, it makes me believe that former mayor Frank Fasi maybe back as head of our City and County again, should he decide to be a candidate.

The known candidates lack experience and know-how to run a huge city such as paradise capital.

We all know that Fasi is in his 80s or close to it, but there is no report about weakness of body and mind. If he is well and sound as I expect, he could be the frontrunner even with one hand tied behind his back.

He does not have to recite his accomplishments. We all know we had success and comfort of life during his time as mayor. He may be better next time.

Bernardo Pascua Benigno
Mililani

Don't allow fishing at tourist beaches

The deer causing havoc on Maui were originally brought to Hawaii for hunting, ("Deer population boom threatens Maui forests, farms," Aug. 28).

Hawaii's next wildlife problem will be shark attacks, if the constant fishing from hotel-front beaches is allowed to continue. Fishing is being blamed for shark attacks in Florida.

On many occasions, when we have tried to enjoy the beach at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, it became impossible to swim, due to all the fishing lines. Children have had hooks stuck in their feet and, last summer, two small hammerhead sharks were in the shallow water. It is just a matter of time.

Most places, including Fiji and Tahiti, do not allow fishing in the tourist areas or on beaches near hotels. I'm sure there are plenty of other places for people to fish, considering that we in Hawaii are surrounded by water.

Leilani Yap






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