School protests persist


POSTED: Saturday, October 31, 2009

More than 50 people, the majority of them elementary-age school kids, gathered at Kahala Elementary School to protest “;Furlough Friday II—the Sequel.”;

For the second Friday in a row, public schools were closed yesterday for more than 170,000 public school students statewide.

Members of the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the Hawaii State Teachers Association had another day off without pay as part of new contracts designed to help the state overcome a projected $1 billion budget shortfall by June 30, 2011. Teachers and other HGEA union workers agreed to 17 furlough days this fiscal year.

When the 8 a.m. bell ran at the school just a block from Kahala Mall, parents carried furlough protest signs on the sidewalk fronting Kilauea Avenue. A few motorists honked back in support. On the lawn fronting the school, children made furlough protest signs, saying “;Our Education Matters”; and “;Stop Furlough Fiasco.”;

Vernadette Gonzalez, a University of Hawaii American-studies professor, brought her two children—16-month-old Noah and 5-year-old Inez Anderson—to the rally.

“;This is a social tragedy,”; said Gonzalez, who had participated at another rally last week at Noelani Elementary School in Manoa, which Inez, 5, attends.

Yellow fliers were passed out urging people to attend a state Capitol hearing at noon urging the Legislature to convene a special session to con-sider other approaches to teacher furloughs. Organizers also passed out special-session petitions for people to address and sign.

Emilia Cazin, who has twin daughters Margueritel and Adelaida attending Kahala, said she grew up in Poland when it was under communist rule.

“;We had nothing to eat, and people would stand in line for eight hours just to get a piece of bread,”; Cazin added, “;but the schools were open.”;