Tuesday, April 3, 2001


Domie Ramos picks up his son, Domienick, 8,
after school at Royal Elementary.

Families to bear
child-care load

Some parents won't be
able to report to work

Lawmakers seek options

By Pat Gee
and Crystal Kua

James Hashimoto won't mind being "Mr. Mom" to six children, including a baby, if teachers walk off the job Thursday.

Hashimoto works at night, so he will have to sleep when he can. His wife is a full-time college student.

"It'll be hectic but I kinda like kids. I'll take them to the beach, play and make them do homework, maybe make them read about half the day," he said.

Hashimoto was among the adults yesterday picking up their children at Royal Elementary School downtown who discussed contingency plans in case public school teachers strike. As expected, parents and relatives will bear the brunt of child care, and some expressed concern that their kids will fall behind in schoolwork if the strike lasts a long time.

John Friedman, president of the Hawaii State Parent Teacher Student Association, said most parents are prepared with child care for Thursday and Friday, the two days schools would close.

Some of the more common questions parents have been asking are about what will happen if schools are open on a partial basis and whether their child be marked absent if they do not attend an open school.

"They're also concerned about the education of their children and how best to keep up their academic skills."

Lahela Laroya, 9, got a hug from Elaine Siu after school,
also at Royal Elementary. Elaine is well known to the
students there, as she picks up her grandchildren,
Lowen, 9, and Jade Rogers, 5, every day.

The PTSA suggests parents or child-care providers read to children and review at home lessons from school, he said. "We're also reminding parents about public libraries, bookstores and Web sites."

Friedman, who has a daughter in public school, said like most parents, he and his wife have made arrangements for his daughter for the first two days of a strike. If the strike continues, he and other parents have plans to watch each other's kids.

Friedman said one of the more elaborate ideas for child care he had heard is a group of parents coming together to get donated space from a church and putting their own class together.

"I think most parents I speak to think teachers deserve to have a pay increase, but they're unclear as to how much that should be," Friedman said.

Hashimoto is worried that a long strike might affect his children's education. "The longer they're out, they might forget what they've been studying, and it will be hard for them to get back on track," Hashimoto said.

Elaine Siu usually takes care of her two grandchildren, Lowen and Jade Rogers, after school, and will do so if there is a strike, but she will not be able to work as a playground supervisor at Royal.

"I'm praying there's no strike, but I hope the teachers get what they want because they deserve it. (Gov.) Cayetano promised raises, and after he got elected he went back on his word. Our children are the future of tomorrow, and they need a good education," she said.

Daphne Rodrigues said she will have to take care of her twins, Katie and Kevin Ezra, but will not be able to go to work as a lunchroom cashier at Likelike Elementary. She is worried that her daughter will "fall far behind and won't be able to catch up" if the strike lasts long.

Karen Ahina is "lucky my husband starts work at 2 a.m. and I work at 8:30 a.m., so we are covered; we're blessed." She has two kids at Royal and two in high school, she said.

Teo Kalingo said his son, Keanu, will attend a YMCA program he already belongs to. Kalingo said his schedule is flexible enough to allow him time to be with his 5-year-old.

Domie Ramos, who is semiretired, will be watching Domienick and expects to take him to work with him if necessary. The 8-year-old said: "I'm going to miss school. I like school."

Sandy Hussey said grandson Alika Hussey will be looked after by his Aunty Nalani. Hussey said he might be able to attend "Kamaaina Kids," a preschool where she works, if she gets permission from her supervisor.

"I support the teachers going on strike. Cayetano should give them their raises. They deserve it," Hussey said.

Legislators’ Keiki Caucus
seeks options for parents

By Lisa Asato

State Rep. Dennis Arakaki says he worries about the health and welfare of teenage students who may roam unsupervised in case of a schoolteachers strike.

But after two hours of meeting with state department officials, child-care providers and private groups, Arakaki said people confirmed his concern without providing any solutions.

"Even the police said they can't do anything," said Arakaki (D, Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley), referring to comments by the Honolulu Police Department's strike coordinator.

As co-chairman of the Legislature's Keiki Caucus, Arakaki held a roundtable meeting yesterday to discuss children's safety and welfare should Hawaii's 12,000 teachers strike.

In the event of a strike, police would treat unsupervised schoolchildren just as they would during the summer, Lt. Russell Ikeda said.

John Friedman, president of the Parent Teacher Student Association, echoed Arakaki's concern.

"Unsupervised children running through our neighborhoods can easily become victims as well as get into trouble," Friedman said.

"It's very tempting to leave a sixth-grader home alone by themselves ... but they're still children and not necessarily grown up."

Among other things, attendees discussed:

>> Getting the word out to parents to contact Aloha United Way, ASK 2000 and PATCH, or People Attentive to Children, for educational and child-care resources.

>> Offering increased childcare stipends for low-income families.

>> HSTA Web site
>> State Web site

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