Letters to the Editor

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U.S. has abandoned its moral right to lead

When reading of the prisoner abuse in Iraq, we must recognize that we are dealing with institutional corruption. People who perpetuate acts of depravity can only do so with approval, or acquiescence, of higher authority within the organization's structure. Deviations from policy are rarely tolerated. Institutions rarely tolerate whistle-blowers or non-conformists. As we learned from Hitler's Germany, even average citizens can commit horrendous acts of depravity, turning a blind eye to the moral corruption of which they are a part.

President Bush's stated goal of bringing democracy to the Middle East has been hopelessly compromised. Even were the "correct" thing done and the entire chain of command, up to and including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to resign, even if all direct perpetrators are detected, tried and punished and even if those who remain in office apologize for their misplaced faith in their subordinates, we have lost the moral right to lead.

We should insist on resignations, punishment and apologies. But we should also admit that we do not have the right to impose our will on anyone -- anywhere, anytime.

Richard G. Grey

Newspaper vendors spread good will

A few days ago, as I approached Kaheka Daiei's entrance I sensed something was wrong. The woman and man who sold Star-Bulletins and Advertisers, respectively, were missing, along with their friendliness and helpfulness. A note on the newspaper dispensers stated that newspapers were now available in the store.

The absence of these two people creates a void. They were the store's unofficial and unpaid ambassadors of good will who helped customers with their shopping cart problems and endless questions simply because they were approachable and always there.

What happens to these people who are displaced? What happens to the place and people they leave behind and no longer grace with their presence?

Richard Y. Will

Teachers should vote 'no' on bad contract

Today teachers are being asked to ratify a contract that is not good for teachers and not good for education in this state. The settlement is touted as a 7 percent raise for all teachers, but only those teachers without advanced degrees will get 7 percent. Teachers with master's degrees and equivalents (more than half of all teachers) will get only a 4 percent raise, those with Ph.D.s will get 1 percent and the teachers with the most experience and advanced degrees will get 0 percent.

The average pay hike for all teachers will be about 5 percent, the smallest increase for any union. Lagging teacher pay is not good for education in the state. Polls show that's not what the public wants. With the nationwide teacher shortage, more than 100 classrooms in the state are taught by long-term substitutes. Higher teacher pay is needed to compete with other states for the scarce new teachers.

A "no" vote today is not a strike vote. It is a vote for the negotiations team to go back to the bargaining table. The goal must be reinstating the pay for advanced degrees, and then securing a 10 percent raise for every teacher. Vote no!

Kioni Dudley
Teacher Aiea High School

Public school is fine for principal's kids

How often have you heard that Department of Education administrators and teachers don't send their own children to public schools? Well, this is not necessarily so.

I'm principal of Aina Haina Elementary and have served as a public school teacher and state curriculum specialist. I'm also a public school graduate (Roosevelt, as well as University of Hawaii-Manoa). My wife, too, is a public school graduate (Kalani and UH-Manoa). The system has done well for us and most of our classmates.

After I married my stepson's mother, he attended Aina Haina for grades 4-6 (earning a Presidential Award in grade 6). Then he was an honor student at Niu Valley Middle, and now is a freshman at Kaiser High (4.0 through three quarters). The DOE is doing well for him and his classmates.

My younger son begins kindergarten in July and, I am happy to say, will be attending Aina Haina. Yes, I am so proud of my school that I want my own son to attend.

Justin S.N. Mew
Aina Haina Elementary School

Felix works for some but has big flaws

The Felix Consent Decree has brought extraordinary, positive change both to Hawaii's special education system and to the education of individual students with disabilities. As shepherd of the consent decree, Judge David Ezra feels that he has successfully balanced the needs and costs of special education against the needs and costs of the larger general education population. But in the legal and political climate created by the consent decree, education money is being spent on everything from clothing to home additions.

Millions of dollars are spent annually to provide medical services to certain Felix-class students. State education funds pay for children who take psychotropic medications such as Ritalin to visit their physicians on a regular basis to monitor their medication usage. These medical expenses are not required by law, and in fact are expressly excluded by the federal law that governs special education. In order to pay for these and other expensive services, the balance that Judge Ezra believes he's achieved is necessarily tipped.

My solution: Next year I'll apply my son, a straight-A student attending a public school, to private school.


How to write us

The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point (150 to 200 words). 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 and include a daytime telephone number.

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Mail: Letters to the Editor, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, 500 Ala Moana, Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96813

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