Days off will harm educational objectives


POSTED: Thursday, September 24, 2009

I was appalled when I heard the results of Gov. Linda Lingle's directives forcing the furloughing of our teachers.

I understand something needed to be done by the administration to bring our government back under a planned budget. But there must be other ways.

Over the past few months when the governor's plans for furloughing teachers were reported by the news and state personnel, I never heard anything about the actual trickledown effect of these plans or how horrifying they could be. Cutting the teachers' pay by forcing 17 furlough days was shocking enough, but this plan has a result of 17 additional days off from school for our children. Where is that going to leave our educational objectives?

Our government leaders and decisions makers need to lead and make policy for the betterment of our communities, not just make a fiscal account of the budget when our economy is greatly based on the downturn of the tourism market.

This is directly reflective of this, as well as the past administration's inability to bring technology, new business markets or resurrecting the agriculture market that would allow for profitable means of maintaining businesses without being nailed by taxes. New businesses in this state just cannot support the risk-versus-reward analysis, which is too great to pursue new growth in those markets.

Please keep in mind these are policies made from having a state- and city-based revenue system too closely tied to a single source: tourism.

The bottom line of this decision means that families with school-aged children are actually going to have to pay for this decision financially and academically. The 17 days of furlough for teachers will result in three weeks and two days of additional days off of school for traditional schedules.

Families are now going to have to make additional arrangements for daycare or take vacation from our jobs for not having them in a school program, costing on average $300 a week. This is no longer an administration budget problem as it's pushed down once again to our families with keiki in school.

Across the country, other states and school districts are faced with some of the same dilemmas as we are for making the spending meet the budget and make cuts as appropriate. How many of those decision-makers have decided to actually cut class dates from their education programs?

The largest question in my mind is how this is going to affect my children. Who and how are these changes going to affect the lesson plans and schedules?

An additional note: Families are already doing their part. My 6-year old daughter is already bringing home three to four lessons as homework each day; leaving it up to families to pick up that slack is just not appropriate.

I envision Hawaii's ranking in school performance statistics dropping even further, if that is possible.


Thomas Hiltner, a “;very concerned and angered parent,”; is an Ewa Beach resident and federal government employee.