To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, March 6, 1999

Readin’, writin’
’n’ budget cuttin’

SUPPOSE Superintendent Paul LeMahieu -- when they asked him to propose a 10 percent smaller public education budget -- had said we'll just drop history, algebra or Shakespeare.

Not much, unfortunately. So, it was good his budget hit list eliminated A+ and high school sports. That got our attention. We might not all place a premium on math, culture or the arts, but everybody understands inexpensive day care and athletics.

A 10 percent budget cut also would halve spending on supplies, equipment and textbooks, eliminate almost 900 jobs for teachers and counselors, wipe out student councils, decimate adult education and slash every supplemental enrichment program in sight. We're cutting muscle and bone here, not fat.

National reading test scores for public school students were released this week. Among 39 participating states, Hawaii came in dead last. No, money can't buy literacy, but without it who will teach our kids to read?

In "Hawaii," James Michener wrote, when crops failed in China long ago, a farmer would hide his corn seed, leave his fields fallow and set out to find work and food in another region. Disaster wasn't losing a few years' crops; it was coming home to discover that someone had found and eaten the seed corn.

Education is the seed corn of a strong, sustainable Hawaii economy. We let it be eaten at our peril.

Hawaii SAT Scores Database

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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