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StarBulletin.com

Teachers deserve public's full support


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POSTED: Thursday, September 24, 2009

As I write this letter, the vote for the ratification of our teacher's furlough days is under way.

The topic of our teachers being forced to take unpaid days off to help our state's budget has brought a considerable amount of confusion and frustration to the public.

Hawaii is one of several states having to resort to drastic measures to help balance the budget due to the economic struggles in our nation. I would like to go on record in sharing my support of our state's educators.

I am a pastor of a local Baptist church in Lahaina on Maui. Some may believe that I should not address the school system because of misconceptions about the “;separation of church and state,”; but I fully support the hard-working educators of Hawaii. I do not agree with the idea of sacrificing the quality of the education of our children when there are other areas of spending that could be impacted without such a great long-term cost.

I am involved in our local schools as a parent, a community leader, a volunteer, a supporter and a local pastor. I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with all of our local principals and with our county superintendent.

I may not agree with every individual political view, policy or administrative decision, but I stand alongside our educators as a whole because I believe that they desire to teach our children the necessary building blocks of life that will enable them to become positive contributors to our community. Without their dedication and commitment, we would be in dire trouble.

In the midst of a growing trend of absentee parents and self-raised children, our teachers fight difficult circumstances just to attempt to impart their expertise to their students.

I am aware that some involved in education seek to perform a minimal amount of work for a paycheck, but that happens in every occupation. I have not found any of those individuals in my experiences in Lahaina; instead, I have met compassionate and caring men and women who love teaching our children life values. Their job is not one to be coveted unless one really has the heart to see young lives grow and mature in knowledge.

The teachers of Hawaii are struggling under the same pressures as our nation, gripped in economic straits. Even though their workdays have been changed and their pay is hugely affected, their important job remains.

I want to encourage local businesses to support our teachers wherever possible, and our parents and communities to encourage them as they seek to cope with these difficulties.

I pledge to support our local teachers, staff and administrators in these tough times and to be available to serve or help in any way that I can. I hope you will also.

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Chris Martin is pastor of Lahaina Baptist Church.