Student protesters urge quick end to furloughs


POSTED: Saturday, December 05, 2009

On pink Hello Kitty stationery, 9-year-old Geneva Kwaku wrote a letter to Gov. Linda Lingle pleading for an end to Furlough Fridays.

“;I heard that there might not be Furlough Friday. We are losing time, so please hurry up and find the money to pay our hard-working and loving teachers,”; said Kwaku, a third-grader at Kahala Elementary School, as she read her letter aloud to the news media.

Kwaku was among several children who protested Furlough Fridays at the state Capitol yesterday with members of Save Our Schools Hawaii, a nonprofit organization comprised of parents and community members. Members announced that they are now accepting letters, artwork and video messages produced by students for the “;1,000 Student Voices about Furlough Fridays”; campaign.

The messages will be delivered to Lingle, legislators, state education officials and union representatives next month. “;Parents are deeply concerned about the negative impact on education,”; said Save Our Schools spokeswoman Marguerite Butler-Higa.

“;The Furlough Friday crisis not only reduces the number of school days in the year, but does so in possibly the most disruptive way. Every week is a short week, disrupting lesson plans. Every weekend is a long weekend, with children now in permanent vacation mode.”;

Anna Zucchero, a fifth-grader at Noe-lani Elementary School, said, “;I hope that they stop furloughs and that they give us more time in school, even at least five hours of school on Friday instead of no school at all.”;

For more information on the 1,000 Students Voices campaign, go to www.sos808.org.