Wednesday, April 4, 2001
[ TEACHER STRIKE ]
before picket lines form
Fair-minded governor must avoid strikeWe believe in our governor. For the past seven years, he has turned our economy around. He is fair-minded. His candidness and sincerity have sometimes been misinterpreted as arrogance. His campaign promises have been more than rhetoric. He made public education his No. 1 priority and he delivered. He made many tough decisions, and he is honest!
We also believe in public education. My wife and I have enjoyed 64 years teaching in Hawaii public schools. We have witnessed higher expectations for teaching and learning, more emphasis on student learning, higher standards for teacher accountability and a greater respect for public educators. The quality of education has improved. Teachers are the driving force.
This issue is not about who has more clout -- the governor or the union. Neither is this labor dispute about whether or not there should be a strike.
It is about attracting and retaining teachers in Hawaii during this nationwide teacher shortage. Other states are giving teachers signing bonuses, like star athletes. In the Las Vegas airport terminal, there is a large billboard that reads, "Teachers, you are welcomed to teach in Las Vegas."
Governor, you should do something to lift the spirits and enhance the image of teachers. Don't let them beg! Don't let them strike!
HSTA, UHPA are outspending governorLinda Anderson's April 2 letters to the editor accusing the governor of spending huge tax dollars trying to sway the public against the Hawaii State Teachers Association is irresponsible.
She claims the governor hired a marketing firm to call constituents and sway them against the HSTA. This is utterly untrue. While it's somewhat understandable that untrue, spiteful rumors will be generated under circumstances like these, it's really too bad when they make it to print.
And tax dollars are not flying out the window on any "vindictive campaign against public school teachers." Expenditures to date for the state's entire public information outreach effort total just $18,000. A small price to pay to inform taxpayers of the state's position on an issue that affects nearly every family.
Public relations campaigns cost big money. Just ask the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, which spent nearly $750,000 on a campaign. Or look at the barrage of 30-second spots teachers are running.
Director of Communications
Office of the Governor
Governor's ads were misinformedI work for the Department of Education as a speech language pathologist. I was shocked and offended by the governor's ad against teachers and public employees. His so-called facts about how much money I have received in raises since 1989 are way off base. If I have gotten a 44 percent raise since then, it has not appeared in my pay check! Where did he get this information about the average Hawaii Government Employees Association employee?
I hope the public will not accept the governor's words in his ad as truth; they are simply propaganda.
Please support the public employees and demand that the governor give pay raises where they are due.
By the way, we don't have the money and materials necessary now for books. My daughter's school, Kalaheo High School, had to have parents hold a fundraiser to get textbooks for math classes!
Teachers are leaving, including this oneI am a math teacher at Kahuku High School, my alma mater. I love what I do and where I do it.
Last year my wife was also working for the Department of Education, and our two salaries were enough to get by. In July, however, we adopted our first child and learned that my wife was pregnant. She quit her job to stay home with our son, and for the first time we felt the financial pinch that so many talk about in Hawaii. We have seen our savings dwindle to almost nothing. We have had to stop making contributions to our retirement accounts, and we have been forced to rely on government assistance.
The less enlightened in our state have suggested teachers are greedy. I didn't become a teacher to get rich, but I do deserve to be paid enough to support my family without the government's help. As much as we would like to raise our children here, the sad truth is I can no longer afford to be a teacher in Hawaii. So when the school year ends in June my wife and I will move with our two sons to the mainland.
The governor brags that the teachers in Hawaii are the 18th highest paid in the nation. He dismisses the fact that once you adjust for cost of living, we are the lowest paid. He suggests that it is unreasonable to expect the state to offer higher salaries to offset the high cost of living in Hawaii. Yet other states and school districts are doing exactly that because they understand that if teachers leave, education suffers.
>> HSTA Web site
>> State Web site
[QUOTABLES]"That's what people do in this community. If you know somebody, you give them a recommendation." Robert Klein,
Former state Supreme Court justice, on his request that a friend's son be admitted to Kamehameha Schools. Klein's request, described in a 1998 deposition in the trial to oust former trustee Lokelani Lindsey, was granted over the objections of the admissions director.
"It's not a normal practice to play bumper cars in the air." Adm. Dennis Blair,
Commander of U.S. Pacific forces, describing increasingly dangerous close encounters between American and Chinese military aircraft during the last two months
Gambling goes on --whether legal or notAre state officials and Star-Bulletin and Advertiser editorial writers all pretending to be like the fabled three little monkeys -- one covers his ears, the second covers his eyes and the third covers his mouth? I'm referring to their opposition to legalized gambling.
It's well-known that illegal gambling in Hawaii has been rampant for years. The fact that this illegal gambling is not taxed should should weigh heavily on the labor unions and legislators who are always seeking more tax dollars. The police are more or less powerless to solve this one.
Democrats are still hiding budget processRep. Charles Djou's criticisms of the secrecy policy of the money committees in the Legislature are well founded. With former colleagues, most notably current Sen. Fred Hemmings, we made the same arguments in the '80s and '90s. Unfortunately, it appears that the same attitude of indifference continues on the part of the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate. Change is long overdue.
The media should join Djou in demanding that the details of the budget process be open to scrutiny.
Former Republican state representative and senator
(Editor's note: Please see "Let openness prevail in budget process," Star-Bulletin editorial, April 3).
State should sponsor long-term care fundI support a state-sponsored long-term care insurance program because many of us will need long-term care sometime in our lives and such care tends to be very expensive. People in Hawaii live to be older than in other states, hence the need for this insurance is even greater here.
Private long-term care insurance is very expensive, especially if bought late in life when most people consider it. Thus, the state has a responsibility to its citizens to help them obtain affordable long-term care.
It is highly unlikely that the federal government will create a system of long-term care insurance any time in the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is up to the states to help provide this type of protection for their citizens.
Honolulu isn't safe for bicyclistsRegarding Nobu Nakamoto's March 14 letter on safe bicycling: Sidewalks are much safer to ride on than the roadways of urban Honolulu. That's why pedestrians use them.
Until the city makes wider shoulder lanes for bicyclists, there can be no safe transit for them. With our roadways becoming more and more congested, and the dangers of road rage, bicycling around the urban corridors of Honolulu will remain a risky proposition.
There is no safe bike route from downtown Honolulu to East Oahu. Ala Moana Boulevard, Kapiolani Boulevard, South King Street and Beretania Street all are main arteries on which bicyclists have to compete with buses.
I used to bike to work from Kaimuki. I hated to ride on the sidewalks because it was illegal, but I had no choice. To risk being hit from behind by a motorist was far greater a risk than being reprimanded by a pedestrian much less a police officer for breaking a law.
I tried to be polite to pedestrians, even walking my bike when passing them, but the fact that I was doing something illegal gave me no choice but to abandon my bicycling.
Until our mayor makes it safer for bicyclists, I'll drive my car. If I pollute the air, then so be it. A clean environment does nothing for a bicyclist killed by a motorist.
Are Waahila Ridge lines really necessary?In your March 26 editorial on the proposed Waahila Ridge power lines, you state that replacing the poles will prevent "crippling power outages." How? When was the last crippling power outage? What does a distance of 3.8 miles have to do with ruining the environment in areas that are extremely sensitive?
And please do not say that the poles will be "camouflaged" or blend in with the environment.
In addition, the installation of the poles will have an effect on the environment, the noise of the construction, the helicopters, the extra people, etc.
Let the power company install new lines in those areas that are inhabited by the human population of the island, where the environment has already been ruined.
Disease is creating new vegetariansDuring the past month, I've been reading that the mad cow and foot and mouth diseases in Western Europe have dropped meat sales by 50 percent.
I've also read that fears of these diseases have doubled the number of vegetarians, that our meat inspection system has been a massive failure, that Vice President Dick Cheney has suffered his fourth or fifth heart attack and that more than 60 percent of Americans are overweight.
Then, I heard comedian Bill Maher on "Politically Incorrect" talking about some folks who observe the Great American Meatout by asking their friends and neighbors to kick the meat habit on the first day of spring and explore a wholesome and nonviolent plant-based diet.
They may have something there.
Student has fortitude to be good teacherMs. Zablan, the student who wrote the April 2 essay on the Commentary page ("So who will teach me what I need so I can teach your children?") will have to teach herself the grammar and spelling that is needed to continue her education at Kapiolani Community College.
It is truly unfortunate that she, and perhaps thousands of students, face this obstacle of not being able to write or spell on a college level.
Ms. Zablan, you will persevere and when you do, please make sure that your students do not face the same situation that you are experiencing. Teach your students to use a dictionary while stressing the importance of reading. Reading will help with grammar issues as well as spelling.
Ms. Zablan, keep going. Hold your head high. I hope to see your name on a teachers' roster some day.
Kevin M. O'Connor
The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point on issues of public interest. The Star-Bulletin reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed, must include a mailing address and daytime telephone number.