Public schools need statewide curriculum
I commend the Star-Bulletin for coming out in favor of a curriculum in Hawaii's public schools (Editorial, Feb. 23
I first realized that Hawaii's statewide system had no curriculum when a math teacher complained about it at a Republican Party convention more than 10 years ago. Since then my son transferred from one school to another and found he was unprepared to do the adjacent district school's work. What's the point of a statewide system if there's no curriculum?
The tragedy is that our teachers are forced to reinvent the wheel every year preparing their own paper handouts and exercises. Why should teachers have to do so much unpaid preparation time, inevitably uncoordinated with other schools and teachers across the state, when curricula and texts are available?
With 180,000 students, you could find competitive vendors who would adapt a curriculum and texts just for Hawaii, leaving our teachers free to teach. This failure by the state Board of Education and its Department of Education bureaucracy is perennial and inexcusable.
Hawaii should not put tax burden on poor
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently reported that Hawaii continues to be one of the worst states for taxing the incomes of the poor. In fact, by many measures we are third or second worst. This is Hawaii, with our long history of fighting for equal opportunity and our belief that poverty should be a temporary condition, not a permanent burden.
The governor and many legislators have vocalized the need to stop taxing the poor. We applaud these statements and hope they result in legislation that accomplishes this goal. Both sides have good ideas and it is actually a combination of those ideas that would work best. A package of well-targeted reforms, including a refundable earned income tax credit and regularly indexed increases to the standard deduction, would be a tremendous catalyst for helping people and their children get out of poverty.
We humbly believe that most of us in Hawaii are selfless and generous. When resources are scarce (and surplus notwithstanding, they are always scarce), we want to be sure to help those in greatest need before we help ourselves. If they can put politics aside in this instance, lawmakers can fulfill the will of the people by joining forces.
Andrew Aoki James Koshiba
'Voter-owned' elections offer better choices
I'd like to add my two cents in support of "voter owned" elections because it seems to be an important change that is needed for our system of government. We need more of the right kind of choices of candidates when we vote.
Demagogues who want to scapegoat the complex problems of our state and people will not easily sway our good representatives in government. Informed legislators have the time, resources, intelligence and strength to oppose these demagogues, whereas the typical citizen might not.
If we don't trust our legislators, then we want to elect new ones who can better represent our needs and the common good, rather than the needs of their biggest donors. That's the kind of choice that we want as voters. That's the kind of choice that is best, as issues in these times get more complex.
Will Democrats ask for money back?
The Democrat-controlled state Legislature passed a law restricting contributions from mainland individuals and companies to local candidates. Some Democrats also are calling for the governor to return all campaign contributions raised outside of Hawaii.
But the fact is, all four members of Hawaii's congressional delegation receive a lot of their campaign monies from mainland contributors. Will the Democrats also demand that Senators Inouye and Akaka and Representatives Abercrombie and Case return any contributions they have received from mainland sources? I doubt it.
Use eminent domain to pick dump site
Anyone who has tried to ship a package to the mainland should know by now that it is too expensive to do this with our trash. Let's stop wasting time, and just agree that we have to deal with it on-island. Expanded recycling and building another H-POWER plant are great ways to start.
But we still need a new landfill. Common sense says that the perfect conditions for a landfill are: an area with existing natural borders (like a crater, valley or quarry), sparse rainfall and favorable winds. Additional concerns are easy truck access and tourism impact. So pick a spot already.
Everyone generates trash, and nobody wants to keep it in their own back yard. However, we cannot afford to ship it to someone else's back yard. For the good of our entire community, something's got to give. The concept is called "eminent domain," just like when you need to build an airport or a freeway.
There will never be a way to please everyone. It is time now for the members of the City Council to do the job they were elected to do, and make some tough decisions before the promised closure of Waimanalo Gulch landfill.
Don't forget, Katrina victims still need help
The U.S. humanitarian response to assist victims in the Philippines is noteworthy.
However, have we done as much for victims of Hurricane Katrina? Pictures and articles in the newspaper these days, including television, still depict areas water-logged with extensive damage to homes and businesses. Rebuilding and help to residents is still lacking after all this time. Federal response is still slow.
These are U.S. citizens still trying to get their lives on track after losing all their worldly possessions. Are we missing something here?
Roy M. Chee