Erika Engle

Friday, September 12, 2003

Teacher contract
campaign to heat up;
broadcast thaw begins

We know now their average pay is less than city bus drivers with five years' experience.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association may address that and other issues in the coming year with its new communications team, as the union heads into new contract talks in January.

Public relations company Joan Bennet & Associates Inc. and communications and marketing company Fuel Communications LLC will be "spreading the good news about public schools," said Danielle Lum, HSTA communications specialist. The team succeeds McNeil Wilson Communications.

People who don't have first-hand knowledge of the public schools, such as a child in attendance, think the schools are doing a bad job, she said. "Where if you have kids in public schools, you're giving them As and Bs."

Joan Bennet comes from a long line of public school teachers, "My mom, her mom, my sister, my uncle," she said. "I'm very committed to a strong public education system."

Part of Bennet's plan is to help teachers build partnerships "because with all the tremendous work being done, they cannot do it alone, they need help and support from parents and the community at large."

Fuel is a new company at a year-and-a-half old, but its partners are public relations and advertising industry veterans of large kamaaina and mainland agencies.

"Fuel is doing all the advertising and the media planning and buying and also doing the government relations," said partner Eric Epling.

He also speaks passionately about teachers.

"They play a vital role in many things," Epling said. "We believe education is really the key to many of the problems Hawaii faces, the economy, welfare, homelessness. You know the better educated our children are, the less likely they'll be to fall prey to the things that are on the negative side of society."

So, will their lower-than-bus-drivers'-salaries be brought up again?

"You might be on to something," Epling laughed.

Freeze is thawing

The Federal Communications Commission has unfrozen the Sept. 5 freeze reported in this column on processing certain forms broadcast sellers and buyers use.

Processing of applications for new stations, assignments of license or transfers of control filed on the June 2002 version of the forms has resumed. Broadcast companies filing on or after Aug. 14 using the July 2003 version are required to resubmit applications using the old forms.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at:


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