to the Editor

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Wednesday, August 1, 2001

State, HSTA should seek common ground

Negotiating a labor agreement is a very detailed and arduous process. We all recall watching those late night negotiations that went into the early hours of the morning when the state recently negotiated with the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

If HSTA members have the opportunity days after the negotiators met to sign off and ratify the contract, so too should the governor. After all, he is the one who was elected and is held accountable by taxpayers.

HSTA's own two documents handed out at ratification were in conflict with one another. One stated that those with master's degrees would be sharing in a $6-million bonus. The other document stated the bonus would be paid each year, something that would cost more like $20 million than $6 million.

The state and HSTA should find a compromise. Taxpayers deserve it.

Henry Kim

Negotiators must avoid further conflict

Last week thousands of Hawaii's students returned to their public schools and thousands more will return in the weeks to come.

Every child faces some apprehension on starting a new school year in a new classroom, information that needs to be recalled and new skills learned. This year, the children face an even greater challenge as they begin the school year with the added handicap of missed learning from the weeks of last year's teachers strike. The burden this places on both the child and the teacher will be tremendous. Let us not compound that difficulty with prolonging the contract negotiations.

It is now very apparent there was no "meeting of the minds" between the state and the Hawaii State Teachers Association at the close of contract negotiations last April. However, we cannot allow that to deter us from what must be done: focusing on the minds and education of more than 180,000 children enrolled in our public schools. Over 10 percent of the curriculum was lost during contract talks last year. Our children need and deserve to spend their entire school year concentrating on their studies, without the distraction of more contract talks.

Each day of school missed is an opportunity lost and a day of learning that cannot be replaced. We ask that both the governor and HSTA avert the additional damage our keiki will suffer if a contract is not agreed to soon. For the sake of our children, please settle and sign this contract now.

Carol Nafus
Hawaii State Parent, Teacher, Student Association


"It's a triple whammy."

Sam Slom,

Republican state senator and president of Small Business Hawaii, about a national report that says high taxes, government regulations and costly workers' compensation requirements combine to make Hawaii a difficult place to operate a small business.

"He's a really nice guy. He's just done some weird things."

T. Walton,

Newton County, Kansas police detective, on Lonnie Webster who graduated from Kailua High School in 1995 and attended college in Kansas while masquerading as James Odom of Pensacola, Fla. Webster is being held on charges of identity theft and forgery.

Fix the bonuses, not the blame

The governor and the Star-Bulletin just don't get it. It's not a battle between Davis Yogi and Joan Husted as the Star-Bulletin editorial on July 28 seems to indicate.

It's really a dispute between Hawaii's public school teachers and the Cayetano administration. Joan Husted didn't go on strike last spring; Hawaii's school teachers did. To suggest that Yogi and Husted be fired for the bonus dispute misses the point that there is a legitimate dispute about what was intended in the settlement regarding bonuses -- how often they will be paid during the contract and which teachers qualify for them.

I do not recommend separating the bonus issue from the rest of the contract. If the teachers allowed that, they would never see any of the promised bonus money because the state would not have any incentive to fix the problem, other than its own sense of right and wrong.

I do recommend that Governor Cayetano's money people shake the trees, empty the piggy bank and look under all the mattresses to find the money. Educating our children ought to be the highest priority. Good education is good for the economy.

Let's put aside any notion that we ought to fire one or both of the negotiators for this mess. That kind of talk only makes the problem harder to solve.

Wayne E. Cahill
Administrative Officer
Newspaper Guild of the Communications Workers of America

Let's see: $2,000 divided by...or is it...

Mahalo for the July 26 story about two men being arrested for stealing pineapples. I enjoy starting my day with a good laugh! The one man said they get 50 cents a pineapple. They had 154 pineapples in their car. Their bail was $2,000. You do the math. Do people remember about seven years ago when the school board wanted to pass a law that if a child was having trouble with math he or she would be transferred to another subject or passed on the math course to encourage self-esteem?

So, class today's question is: How many pineapples will the two men have to swipe to raise their bail?

Linda Liddell
Kaunakakai, Molokai

Sic liquor panel on attacking dogs, cats

I am astounded that Golden Dolls Showgirls lost its license, and that Club Yokohama was fined $31,500, because employees and customers touched each other, when we have dogs and cats attacking people on the streets, and the only official action has been for the Humane Society to make certain the animals were OK.

Obviously, it is time we dumped the mayor, the City Council and the Honolulu Police Department, and let the Liquor Commission rule.

Rico Leffanta

Let President Bush do his job

Bill Maxwell's column ("Bush is not up to the job," July 11) smacks of high-brow intellectualism and elitism. In fact, his negativism and liberal viewpoint is unabashedly obvious. Journalists have a right to their opinion, but I don't see how Maxwell's poisonous words will help American society thrive. He has been a naysayer from the beginning and that viewpoint may not change even if good should come from the Bush presidency.

Bush should be allowed to do his job without the stench of negativism from know-it-all journalists. Bush should be given the four years he has earned in office to implement whatever he can from his agenda. The people will decide at the polls whether he has done a good job.

Someday in the future a non-biased analysis with a historical viewpoint may determine whether Bush was a good president. But today, all American citizens should wish his administration well despite the ravings of people like Maxwell.

K. Kimura

Board should reject creationism

We, the undersigned scientists and educators at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, wish to register our strong opposition to the proposed changes in the state performance standards recently passed by the Regular Education Committee of the Board of Education.

The purpose of the K-12 science curriculum is to ensure that Hawaii's children receive a fundamental grounding in scientific knowledge and the basis of the scientific method that will enable them to compete for jobs and participate fully as informed citizens in an increasingly technologically complex world.

The proposed changes in the science curriculum standards that will encourage the injection of non-scientific, religious theories into science classes will dilute the science curriculum and be a major disservice to the young people of this state. The proposed changes also raise significant constitutional legal issues the resolution of which will divert scarce resources from the school system and distract the board from its fundamental responsibilities to the education system in Hawaii.

We strongly urge that the Board of Education members reject the modifications to the science standards approved by the Committee on Regular Education.

Chris Measures
Department of Oceanography

Paul Wessel
Professor and Chairman
Department of Geology and Geophysics

Editors note: This letter was also signed by 60 other University of Hawaii educators.

Students should learn theories of all religions

I congratulate the state Board of Education for considering the possibility of including the theological creation theory in school curriculum. This can provide a fascinating and unique experience to our students and help them think outside of the box.

Lest the board be charged with discrimination, however, the curriculum should include a discussion of the theories of creation of the universe advanced by all religions. Because students may be confused by having so many -- and often contradictory -- theories being tossed around, I suggest this may be better handled in a theology class than a science class.

I volunteer to explain the Islamic theory of creation. I'll be happy to provide an overview to board members, high school teachers and all others interested in the subject.

Saleem Ahmed

There's no proof in any creation pudding

Whoever or whatever generated the first living organisms is not available for comment. Neither the Christian God, nor pan-spermian aliens, nor the legendary god of chance stirring it's pre-biotic soup is cooperating with our prestigious scientific community by repeating its mighty experiment in one of our laboratories.

So until our scientists with all of their gizmos and gadgetry can duplicate what supposedly happened "by chance" long ago, I would have to classify the belief in a chance formation of living cells out of non-living matter (which is the first doctrine of evolution tradition) as "unscientific."

Here's a question for serious-minded readers on either side of the creation-evolution controversy: If your deeply held beliefs, whether theistic creed or atheistic dogma, are forced on every student without a fair shake to opposing faith traditions, aren't you guilty of the worst kind of censorship? Or is "the truth" so harmless and incompetent a creature that it needs your protection?

Joel Elies

Creationism denies cumulative knowledge

Little wonder that public education, K-12, in Hawaii is so poorly regarded. We have a anti-education governor, a rookie contract negotiator who doesn't read contracts before signing them and now a Board of Education that thinks creationism is a theory backed by scientific data.

The teaching of creationism was interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968 as attempting to establish a religious position in a public classroom and declared it unconstitutional. Again in 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that "creationism impermissibly endorsed religion by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind."

School board members should understand that evolution simply means change. Living organisms change every day, every generation, everywhere. When sufficient change accumulates over time in a species population and when that population splits into isolated groups, those groups can and do evolve into new species. This conclusion is supported by millions of examples in the fossil record.

If the creationists are right that all things in the universe were created by a supreme being, then there is a serious problem with physics, astronomy, cosmology, geology, paleontology, botany, zoology and other natural sciences. To teach creationism as if it were a scientific theory is to deny the cumulative knowledge developed by all of these sciences over the history of human civilization. This would do untold harm to the education of Hawaii's next generation.

Richard Grigg
Professor of Oceanography University of Hawaii

Know-it-all scientists are scary

We sound a tad like the blind men who were trying to explain parts of an elephant as a whole. Scientists who profess to know absolutely everything are scary.

Certain religious groups have always believed that there are "worlds without end" besides our own universe.

To limit children only to the latest brand of evolution theory is to deprive them of what other major cultures believe. Science is exciting and is about discovery and not being boxed in. When science is used to limit discussion, the process of discovery and imagination are impeded.

Choon James

Darrow pleaded to have both theories taught

Until the 1925 so-called Scopes Monkey Trial most public schools taught the divine creation theory. Students in those days studied the facts of science and were told that evidence indicates there was/is a creator who designed the universe and that only minor changes were possible within the boundaries of basic kinds of plants and animals.

The evolutionists lost that famous case, and it remained illegal to teach evolution in many states until the 1960s. However, in that famous trial, atheist lawyer Clarence Darrow said, "it is bigotry to only teach one view of origins. Students should be taught both the creation and the evolution theories."

In the 35 years following the trial, however, the theory of evolution was taught more and more in textbooks (in spite of laws banning it), while the creation theory was taught less and less. Today many textbook authors present only the evolution theory as if it is a proven fact of science -- inferring no other theories need even be considered. Some teachers mistakenly believe that they are not even allowed to mention the creation theory in the classroom. Today we have the Scopes Trial in reverse, yet it is still bigotry to teach only one view of origin.

Melvin Partido Sr.

Editorial stance lacks backbone

I am deeply troubled by the Star-Bulletin's half-hearted condemnation of the possible inclusion of creationism as part of the state Board of Education's performance standards (Editorial, July 29).

You claim that "teaching creationism as part of the science curriculum, however, would seem questionable." Questionable, indeed, in that creationism is not science by any stretch of the imagination.

In a state that is considered by the world's scientific community as one of the planet's most incredible showcases of the process of evolution, to even be discussing this is a sad commentary. Your suggestion that creationism has any place in our school's curriculum is perhaps even more sad.

Brad Evans

Scientists cement their evolution position

Board of Education member Denise Matsumoto is technically correct that "evolution hasn't been validated by any concrete evidence." Scientists prefer to call all that stuff they've dug up "fossils," not "concrete."

Jim Henshaw

Letter guidelines

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.

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