Amendments could fix host of problems
Dear Mr. President: Those pictures of loving couples tying the knot in San Francisco scared the bejesus out of me. I was on the verge of a tizzy-fit until I heard that you and the American Taliban want to further curtail the liberty and personal freedom of gay people with a constitutional amendment.
While you're at it, Mr. President, how about a constitutional amendment to curtail the liberty of American corporations to relocate overseas, outsource American jobs and avoid paying taxes? Or would that annoy your corporate buddies? Gosh, we wouldn't want that to happen! You're smarter to pick on gay people.
Civil unions still deny equal rights for gays
Mary Papish certainly has a right to her opinions, but she was badly mistaken when she declared that there is no difference between civil unions and same-sex marriage (Letters, Feb. 3).
In "Same-Sex Marriage and the Constitution" (Oxford University Press, 2004), Evan Gerstmann points out that "civil unions fall short of marriage," that the Defense of Marriage Act denies same-sex couples access to "more than one thousand federal legal rights and benefits which are available to (heterosexual) married couples" and that "civil unions are most likely not portable from state to state."
This controversy has raised a fundamental question about equal justice under law. Civil unions were developed in reaction to existing marital law which, among other things, allows heterosexual murderers, rapists and child molesters to marry even when they are behind bars, while at no time may gays and lesbians do so.
Marriage is held up as a sacrament, yet there is no religious requirement for entering in to marriage as a civil contract. The doors to marriage are wide open to heterosexual atheists, satanists, practitioners of serial divorce, the adulterous and those who wish to marry for reasons having nothing to do with genuine romantic love.
Better schools aren't linked to district size
Thank you, Star-Bulletin, for exposing the disinformation that small school districts raise student achievement ("Research fails to back gov on school boards," Feb. 18).
Taxpayers and parents agree that education is our priority, but we don't know which source of information to believe. Your article makes sense. Teacher quality, small schools, small classes and a challenging curriculum are factors that yield a successful education.
The governor and legislators should focus on those factors. District size is not the solution.
Stephanie S. Araki
Shrinking districts is a good first step
Your editorial ("Debate on school boards misses the target," Feb. 19) cites only one study that finds a link between the size of a school district and student achievement. Actually, there are several studies in several different states.
Researchers found that small schools in large districts did not perform as well as small schools in small districts. In other words, large district bureaucracies can mess up good things at the school level.
These studies also found that large schools in small districts perform better than large schools in large districts. In other words, small districts can help overcome the problems within large schools.
Large districts tend to spend a lower percentage of their budgets on classrooms, teachers and core learning, become stagnated by bureaucratic procedures and hierarchies, and have lower staff moral and higher parent alienation.
Small districts on the mainland are smaller than the seven districts in Hawaii would be. But shrinking the district size and bureaucracy is moving in the right direction.
Hawaii has other important reasons to break into separate districts with local school boards. Our schools are located on seven islands. How can the administration make responsible decisions when it does not regularly face the public and schools it serves? District size in Hawaii is also a matter of fair access.
Laura H. Thielen
Hawaii State Board of Education
Overbuilding has 'killed' islands already
Please spare us the drama and sympathy the construction industry is pleading for ("Strike 'killing' construction," Star-Bulletin, Feb. 20).
Yes, the recent cement workers' strike may be "killing" the industry, but one can only wish it had happened sooner.
Does anyone really think the quality of life here is better than it was 10 or 20 years ago? Everything is hopelessly more crowded because, as the adage goes, "if you build it, they will come." Construction has been at the root of the demise of these islands -- Oahu and Maui in particular -- for a quarter of a century. So, forgive me if I don't shed a tear for the industry that wants to further overbuild our island. You've done enough "killing" on our islands so consider yourself served.
Bush-Cheney collect more than Kerry
Talk about gall. Last week, the Bush-Cheney campaign sent a video message to more than 6 million people, decrying U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as an "unprincipled" politician "brought to you by the special interests." The video cites a recent Washington Post story reporting that Kerry had raised more campaign money in individual "hard money" donations from lobbyists since 1989, about $640,000.
Compare this to these facts: The president accepted at least $6.5 million in funds bundled by Washington influence-peddlers last year alone, 10 times what Kerry has accepted from lobbyists over 15 years. The Bush-Cheney campaign's elite fund-raisers, including at least 53 federal registered lobbyists, have brought in more than $142 million so far, for a primary in which Bush is running unopposed.
The only way to eliminate special-interest influence in the White House is to reform the election funding system. A partial improvement would be to remove the Bush-Cheney team from the White House.