Letters to the Editor


POSTED: Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Furloughs upset students, as well

Many of Hawaii's citizens are hoping for the best possible resolution for teachers, students and parents regarding educational furloughs. Facebook and Twitter are becoming forums for discussion and debate for parents and teachers.

However, where are the voices of students? Granted, some will simply say, “;Three-day weekend? Cool!”; But others will be concerned about shortened instructional time.

As a senior at Leilehua High School, I will be affected by the “;furlough Fridays”; if this contract is passed by the HSTA. Not only will instructional time be cut, but I believe the quality of our education will be sacrificed. No one seems to be thinking about the student who can't do homework without special attention. If teachers do continue their planned workload, many students will fall behind because they don't understand the course work.

We deserve better than 3 1/2 days of school for two weeks out of the month. I know officials insist that they will do the best that they can to help students, but with limited instructional time and struggling students, their best won't be good enough for Hawaii's youth.

Kacie Lundy


Hawaii teachers should vote 'no'

I am deeply disappointed by this so-called “;negotiated settlement”; by the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

How is this any different than what the governor originally proposed? This is a huge number of furlough days—and it amounts to a huge pay cut for us, without forcing the governor to make any compromises regarding finding alternate ways to share the burden of making up the deficit, like raising the general excise tax/sales tax.

Teachers are already enormously underpaid in Hawaii relative to the cost of living. Cutting the pay further will drive many teachers out of the profession and will discourage new ones from joining our ranks. The effect on the larger economy will be that tens of thousands of workers will not have money to spend on things other than necessities, further impacting local businesses.

There is currently legislation pending to raise the GET: If we refuse to compromise and take anything more than seven to 10 furlough days, then that bill will probably be ratified to make up the difference. If we agree to carry the entire burden, we will never get out from under the deficit.

Mary Quijano

Hilo Intermediate School teacher, Pahoa

Don't rob kids of education

Anything else should be cut from the budget before education. Anything.

The whole fabric of our society begins to come undone when we take away education from our children. It is the foundation of the next generation's ability to contribute and to produce as citizens.

I have a third-grader. One less day a week will profoundly affect her. She is a bright child. But, occasionally, it takes a little extra time and repetition for her to understand some concepts.

Once she comprehends them, she can move on to the next subject. That precious time she needs will be reduced even further. There are many children in my daughter's situation who will be adversely affected.

Please rearrange your budget so that our schools don't lose 17 days a year. I am not even talking about concerns with what to do with my child on those days. I work from home and will continue to do so.

The main issue is that you will be robbing our children of their education.

Teachers should be exempt from pay cuts and furloughs. If you let this travesty occur, you are committing a moral, ethical and intellectual crime against our children and against our society.

Diana Caldwell


U.S. mandates undermine state

Why does Hawaii have a budget shortfall? One reason is programs that are established by the federal government but are paid for, in part, by the states.

For example, Medicaid is a federally mandated program. The federal cost share is 55 percent and the share for Hawaii is 45 percent. Medicaid currently covers, in Hawaii, 235,000 individuals at a total cost of $1.5 billion, or $6,446 per person. The 235,000 enrolled individuals represent about 20 percent of the total population in Hawaii. This is not Medicare (another program run by the feds) that covers more than 100,000 Hawaii residents.

The cost of Hawaii's share of Medicaid, paid by state taxpayers directly—is $682 million (or $2,902/ individual covered). The cost of the program grows yearly since it is “;eligibility”; driven and not capped by any budget limitation.

So, the next time you wonder why the state cannot pay state workers or run a film office or inspect agricultural products, think state control. Hawaii can only cut expenses over which it has control. Medicaid is an expense over which the state has zero control. The film office or agriculture inspectors are some of the few expenditures that are discretionary. Expect more local priorities to fall by the wayside as federal mandates demand more of our state tax revenues.

Paul E. Smith





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