Sunday, February 11, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, February 11, 2001

Letters to the Editor

No practical reason for Ocean Science Center

Regarding Sunday’s commentaries on the Ocean Science Center (Feb. 4), as an everyday, regular taxpayer, I found Webster Nolan’s evaluation of the proposed Ocean Science Center far more convincing and logical than those presented by the board of the Ocean Science Center.

We have so many urgent problems to address at this time. The Ocean Science Center project seems like another "get rich" scheme that has been brewing for years behind the scenes, as so many other plans seem to have happened in Hawaii.

I just can’t see profitability (which has to be the bottom line) for the Ocean Science Center and no practical reason to put the university school there.

Jane Au

Phonics still the best way to teach reading

It was with a sense of sadness and vindication that I read Arnold Bitner’s "Learning to Read" (Focus, Feb. 4), because, way back in 1959, I was one of the lucky few to be taught to read using what was then called "Phonetics." That was first grade, taught in a single-class private school that met in a converted garage classroom.

It was just phonics by a different name, but what a difference it has made in my life. By the end of the third grade, my second year in public schools, I was scoring past the 12th-grade level in standardized tests of reading comprehension.

I was no smarter than my classmates, but they had been handicapped with the "whole language" approach to reading. While they had been made to memorize the 2,500 words that would be "all the words they would ever need," I had been equipped with the skills to read any word I would ever come across for the rest of my life.

If your child’s school doesn’t teach phonics, teach them yourself. Phonics, and the reading skills that naturally follow, is the most precious gift you could ever give your child.

Robert R. Cook

Why high school teachers deserve raise in pay

I saw on the news recently that Gov. Cayetano is incensed because the teachers prefer to have a raise for themselves instead of purchasing textbooks and computers. I voted for the governor twice because I believed he was a fair man. After that statement and others like them, I feel I cannot trust him to do what’s best for me and my state.

I am a teacher at Waipahu High School. It’s a great school, but we have one of the largest student populations in the state. I teach 133 juniors (in five classes) and 24 GT sophomores. Although my official day starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 2:15 p.m. most days, my real day doesn’t end when the bell rings. After leaving school, I continue to correct papers, create lesson plans, and read through school memos as I wait for my children during dance classes and judo practice. After dinner, dishes, homework, and laundry, I correct papers till midnight. I often wake at 5 a.m. to complete papers I didn’t finish the night before.

I do all of this and more for $31,070 a year. And I’ve been a teacher for 10 years. My salary doesn’t go up because there is no pay increase for a teacher who doesn’t further her education. I’d really like to, but I can’t afford either the time or the money. I don’t think I do anything extraordinary. There are thousands of teachers just like me, who work just as hard or harder than I. Like myself, many teachers have second jobs to make ends meet. I do think that the public should be aware of a teacher’s reality, instead of listening to someone who has no idea what we do or how much we do for so little reward.

I believe that all teachers deserve a raise. A beginning teacher now makes about $29,000 a year and teachers who have reached the highest pay scale receive about $58,000. There are other jobs which require less education and have no "home" work, but they’re not for me.

I cannot afford to strike, but I will. The idealistic part of me says that "if we all stick together, then we’re bound to get our raise," but the cynical part of me believes that the governor wants the teachers to strike so that our unpaid wages can become the wage increase and he’ll end up looking like a "nice guy" for settling the strike.

I hope that I’m wrong about him and his motives. I would ask that Gov. Cayetano remember the accolades he poured upon boxing Olympian Brian Viloria on his return to Hawaii. I want the governor to remember that Brian was educated at Waipahu High School and that there are thousands of other "Brians" who have been educated in Hawaii’s public schools. I ask the governor to remember that we are their teachers.

Karen K. Shinjo

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