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Thursday, September 6, 2001

New-teacher lures irk those already on job

Is this irony or what? Your Sept. 4 article, "Isle shortage of teachers spurs call for recruits," tells of the incentives the state is considering to recruit new teachers, yet the state is giving the already-have-earned-higher-degrees-and-giving-110-percent-on-a-daily-basis teachers a hard time for that second-year bonus on the contract. Where's the logic?

Some of the possible recruits may see what's going on and may not want to look forward to a future of fighting for every dollar and working without a contract.

Barbara Wong

Schools are to blame for teacher shortage

Hawaii's public school system has only its own personnel office to blame for the teacher shortage. The real "chilling effect," to borrow Joan Husted's words, is the icy treatment the folks on Punchbowl Street have been offering qualified job applicants.

My wife and I came to Hawaii with a commitment to public education when I accepted a job at the University of Hawaii in 1999. After we made the decision to move here in late spring of that year, my wife called the Department of Education from the mainland. The DOE flatly refused to send her an application -- no jobs available except in special education.

Upon jumping through several more hoops to arrange an in-person interview, she was informed that her master's degree in education from a Carnegie Class 1 research university, Florida teaching certification, two years of public teaching experience, and county nomination for a national teaching award were worthless in Hawaii. Perhaps, we were told, if she were willing to wait until late fall to take a teaching exam, and willing to take a substitute teaching course, she may qualify to be a substitute teacher in Hawaii's public schools later that year.

Fortunately for us, she now works in a private school. Unfortunately for public school students, state- and county-level administrators have turned away too many qualified teachers.

Each time I tell this story in Hawaii people invariably acknowledge that this is "just the way it works here." Hoping for change, I encouraged my wife to write to schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu. She did, and she received no response. Now he's asking for applicants to call him on his own office line, and -- surprise -- his phone lines are jammed.

Tom Kelleher


"These (guitars) are so distinctive I can't imagine how they are going to unload this."
Charmagne Pahinui,
Wife of island entertainer Cyril Pahinui, pictured above, on the difficulty thieves would have selling three custom-made acoustic guitars that were stolen from the Pahinui home Sunday. Charmagne Pahinui said she is not interested in prosecuting the thieves; she just wants to get the instruments back.

"Frankly, I can't believe Montana fans will go to a tailgate party and not drink."
David Guffey,
University of Montana assistant athletic director, on hearing that barbecuing and drinking beer will not be allowed at parking lot tailgate parties before the University of Hawaii-Montana game Saturday. A Maui ordinance forbids drinking alcohol at the stadium parking lot and police say open cooking fires would pose a danger.

Hawaii's feral pigs arrived from Europe

Congratulations on the excellent article on Aug. 12 by Anthony Sommer about the work of paleoecologist David Burney at Mahaulepu on Kauai. Burney's work gives a marvelous perspective on the drastic changes that have occurred in the environment of the islands starting with the arrival of humans perhaps 1,200 years ago.

Your article states: "Bones of pigs brought by the Polynesians begin appearing and the bones of flightless birds begin disappearing, indicating they were slowly hunted to extinction." This wording may suggest that pigs quickly became widespread in the forest after Polynesians arrived. I have questioned Burney and his colleagues on this topic. It seems that the small bones of Polynesian pigs are found in conjunction with Polynesian human habitation sites such as coastal Mahaulepu -- not in contemporaneous upland sites studied by Burney and others, where the bones of Pacific rats are typically the best marker of human presence on an island.

Polynesian pigs seem to have been carefully tended by the early Hawaiians and not to have invaded upland forests. Bones of the larger feral European pigs, which roam Hawaii's forests today and wreak havoc on the native plants and animals, do not appear in the pre-Captain Cook sinkhole strata.

Lloyd Loope
Makawao, Maui

Israel acts in defense against Palestinians

Last November I sat in Jerusalem with my family, peacefully sipping a diet Coke in Sbarro's pizzeria. As an Israeli mother coddled her newborn baby, my wife and I watched with interest. We were expecting our second child. Little did I know that six months later a Palestinian terrorist would enter that Sbarro, detonating a bomb near my table. The explosion ripped through the building, killing 15 people, including seven children, and injuring 130 others. I often wonder if that woman and her child were lost in the bloodbath.

Vaughn Beckman (Letters, Aug. 29) condemns the response the Israeli government takes against Palestinian terrorists calling it a "lack of justice and fairness." I have some questions for Beckman: When people are afraid to commute to work because snipers target random drivers on a day-to-day basis, what is the government supposed to do?

What should Israel do in response to massacres like the one at Sbarro that my family narrowly averted? Nothing? How can Israeli victims be ignored? My wife is Israeli. Should her family be forced to remain unprotected targets?

Palestinian terrorism targets innocents. Israel defends its citizenry by retaliating against known terrorists. I sometimes think of that woman and her child at the Sbarro and wonder if those critical of Israel would do anything in her defense. I certainly would.

William Stonebraker
State representative 15th District (Kalama Valley, Hawaii Kai, Portlock )

Integrity makes all the difference

I recently read a book, "Eyewitness to Power: Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton," by David Gergen. For me, the most memorable quote in the book was about integrity: "If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters."

Random House Webster's College Dictionary defines integrity as, "uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty."

If you were asked to place the following local politicians and other so-called local leaders in either line one or line two of the quote, where would you place: Rene Mansho? Steve Holmes? John Henry Felix? Andy Mirikitani? Jon Yoshimura? Gary Rodrigues? Tony Rutledge?

And the list goes on.

Don Neill

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