Letters to the Editor


POSTED: Friday, July 24, 2009

Torture by U.S. must be stopped

As evidence continues to surface about torture and other human rights abuses that occurred under the previous administration, it becomes increasingly clear that something must be done to deter such abuses of power in the future.

First, there must be a thorough and comprehensive investigation that provides the American public a full account of what was done to detainees in the guise of national security. Congress and the administration need to work together to create an independent, nonpartisan commission that has the resources and subpoena power behind it to ensure any transgressors, regardless of status, be brought to justice.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder may appoint a special prosecutor to investigate said abuses, a decision that Amnesty International supports. I urge my representatives to also show support for such an appointment. For a country that presses other governments toward accountability and transparency to let human rights abuses go unpunished is unacceptable. It's time the United States lived up to its own principles.

Jen Murphy

Amnesty International legislative coordinator for the state of Hawaii


All-or-nothing tests not best for students

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, all states are required to measure academic progress using tests aligned to state standards. John Kawamoto remarked that the Hawaii Department of Education set its own progress goals and the public should hold them accountable (”;DOE responsible for test scores”; Star-Bulletin letters, July 20). He's right.

What Kawamoto failed to say is that NCLB mandates 100 percent of regular, special education, and English as second language students to be proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014. No matter what path a state decided to take in increasing the number of students who are proficient over time, it all culminates with 100 percent proficiency in 2014.

Under NCLB's current rating system, if a school does not meet any one target in 37 possible areas defined by ethnicity, higher poverty levels, limited English proficiency, special education needs, high school graduation rates or elementary and middle/intermediate school retention rates, a school will not achieve Adequate Yearly Progress status.

Two-thirds of Hawaii schools did not meet AYP. However, the percentage of Hawaii students testing proficient in reading rose from 41 percent (2003) and 60 percent (2007) to 65 percent this year. In math, it climbed from 20 percent (2003) and 38 percent (2007) to 44 percent.

In line with the Obama administration and many congressional leaders, the DOE agrees the emphasis of NCLB should be placed on growth in student achievement rather than an unrealistic, “;all-or-nothing”; AYP model.

The DOE remains committed to maintaining its rigorous standards and setting high expectations for all students.

Cara Tanimura

Hawaii State Dept. of Education


Legislators traveling on taxpayers' dime

It was reported that 16 Democratic lawmakers are attending the National Conference of State Legislatures' 2009 Legislative Summit in Philadelphia (”;Political travel raises criticism”; Star-Bulletin, July 23) to discuss economic and social issues.

This conference could be beneficial but I strongly agree with Sen. Sam Slom that the delegation is overkill. The apparent arrogance of these lawmakers is unbelievable. The attendees should have been reduced from 16 to two.

In this time of budget cuts and excessive job losses we need lawmakers with responsibility, sensitivity and common sense, virtues sadly missing in the majority of the Legislature.

Tony Locascio



Seattle rail system illustrates benefits

I was pleased to read the news article about the enthusiastic response of Seattle residents to train service.

I got the chance to talk to Joni Earl, the CEO of Seattle's public transportation agency Sound Transit, when she was in Honolulu a few weeks ago. I was impressed with the clarity of her vision for Seattle's new rail line and how it will improve the quality of life for residents.

Ms. Earl stressed to me how important it was for the silent majority of rail supporters to speak up. I normally don't write letters to the editor, but I feel that rail transit is absolutely essential to the future quality of life on our island.

Janna Arakaki



Has government become too large?

Why did Gov. Linda Lingle's layoff notices target permanent employees before nonpermanent employees?

There are presently about 2,500 temporary, emergency, and contract hires on the state's payroll. There is no logical reason why Lingle would resort to layoffs of any permanent employees first. By definition, temporary, emergency, and contract hires are limited-term employees.

How did we get to this crisis? Recently the state's own data show that while the private sector was losing thousands of jobs, the state was adding a couple of thousand jobs.

Could it be that under this administration government has become so bloated it is unmanageable?

N. Kimura






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