Letters to the Editor
Nation must demand more to improve schools
On Aug. 3, The Advertiser published an article on the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress math scores and our schoolchildren's progress in achieving math proficiency.
The NAEP results were both encouraging and troubling. Scores inched up over the decade; but gains were small, and large achievement gaps persist between poor and affluent, minority and white students. While results differed from state to state, it's clear that improvements are not coming fast enough to prepare students to succeed in college or in 21st-century jobs.
NAEP makes three things very clear:
Congress needs to enact education reform legislation now.
Reform must include annual state reading and math tests and strong accountability consistent gains made in states such as North Carolina and Texas tell us that.
NAEP assessments are a critical tool for understanding where we are succeeding and where we are failing to educate our children.
To truly improve our schools, every community must not only demand that all children learn the skills needed to succeed and prosper, but also demand that schools measure progress and regularly report the results to parents and the public. That's the story of the NAEP results that Congress and the nation should hear.
John J. Castellani
President, The Business Roundtable, Washington, D.C.
Drug's real danger lies in misinformation
The two recent articles on ecstasy in The Advertiser ("Military steps up war on Ecstasy," July 30; "Isle military sees first death tied to Ecstasy," Aug. 1) add to the growing hysteria about the latest "drug menace," but contribute nothing to the real problem.
Uncritical reporting of exaggerated claims, such as those made by Ken Burtness, education coordinator for the Army's 25th Division substance abuse programs, only adds to the confusion and fear generated by the war on drugs, and does nothing to protect our youth from drug-related harm. In fact, it does the opposite.
Anyone with basic knowledge of Ecstasy knows that the drug, in its unadulterated form, does not cause violent behavior, is not a "big time stimulant" and does not cause "semipermanent memory loss," as claimed by Burtness. Such symptoms may result from ingestion of one of the many fake Ecstasy pills found in the illegal market, or from mixing Ecstasy with other drugs, especially alcohol. Therein lies the real danger.
Increased enforcement efforts are unlikely to reduce the harms stemming from the use of Ecstasy. An education program based on honest information would be much more effective in preventing drug-related harm. The national organization DanceSafe (dancesafe.org) is a good place to start.
Donald M. Topping
President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii
Filter an effective, easy way to delete bad e-mail
In regard to the story, "Virus infections," in the Aug. 21 Click! section, Bert Lum wrote a good article that reminds us once again how one bad apple can seemingly threaten to ruin the whole barrel.
An occasional virus problem is one thing, but for those in the Internet business, the Sircam virus became particularly annoying, as Bert pointed out, even for those with Macintoshes.
Manually deleting 100 e-mails a day finally made me wake up and use the cool filter feature of the Eudora e-mail program. Make a filter that finds a match of the exact text "How are you? I send you," for example; you can copy and then paste from a Sircam e-mail in the body of incoming e-mail, then under "actions" have it delete the mail from the server and transfer the e-mail to the trash. I even added the action to play a chainsaw sound. :-) This allows you to save keystrokes for something more worthy.
Making the filter takes under two minutes and requires no programming skills.
John F. McGrady
Owner, Coconut Info
Decree-related actions not helping children
Laura Brown's Aug. 21 letter regarding the Felix court monitor's modus operandi hits the nail square on the head. To these national consultants, the decree has been about national programs and jobs for Mainland friends.
Aug.17 was a dark day for special needs children. Federal Judge David Ezra bracketed the upcoming legislative session with court milestones. Obviously, as Ms. Brown describes, court officials are focused on coercing the Legislature to provide ever-increasing money for Mainland consultant mandates.
The Felix legislative committee's questioning of Dr. Douglas Houck on Aug. 20 was equally bleak. Initially praised for its initiative to investigate consent decree concerns, the committee's first wave of questions was essentially, "Aren't we in compliance now? Can't we get relief from the decree?"
The departments of Education and Health are focused on consent-decree compliance. The Legislature seems aimed at avoiding court oversight. Consultants remain intent on obtaining more jobs for friends.
These events dishearten parents. Isn't anyone concerned about the outcome for children?
HECO trying to pit Palolo against Manoa
As a rate-payer, I'd love to know who's paying for Hawaiian Electric Co.'s slick public relations campaign.
HECO has hired PR people to devise ways to split community solidarity over the eco-disastrous power line it wants to put up on Wa'ahila Ridge (St. Louis Heights). Someone is wining and dining Palolo community leaders and pouring money into "Palolo Pride Day" festivities, with the message that Manoa is Palolo's enemy.
This is sneaky business, trying to pit folks in Palolo against their neighbors in Manoa with the big lie that Manoa wants to disrupt Palolo by undergrounding lines there. This is not true.
Some O'ahu rate-payers received fliers in their electric bill urging them to come support Palolo. This is a worthy endeavor, to honor and support Palolo. It's such a good idea that I'd like to suggest that HECO sponsor a "Wa'ahila Ridge Pride Day." We think the beauty and environmental richness of that threatened ridgeline ought to be celebrated and protected, too.
How about it HECO? Save Wa'ahila Ridge and protect us all from an ill-planned and wasteful blight on the 'aina.
Residents must take responsibility for planning
There is nothing "baffling" about opposition to the Punahou Vista project in Makiki, as stated in The Advertiser's Aug. 18 editorial.
It is precisely because "apartment and condominium buildings already predominate" in the neighborhood that it is anything but a "perfect fit." It would add more insult to injury inflicted on an overpopulated area.
The argument that "affordable housing is clearly needed in Hono-lulu" is misplaced here. The only question is where, not if.
City planning representatives distributed written guidelines outlined in the Primary Urban Center Development Plan: "Makiki will be specifically defined by planning at the neighborhood level," with a view toward making the "neighborhood setting more pleasant, convenient, safer and liveable."
"Planning at the neighborhood level" clearly implies sovereignty above what was suggested by some misguided individual at a board meeting that "the rich in Makiki have a responsibility to offer play space for the poor children of Kalihi." Residents of Makiki, as with residents of any neighborhood, are responsible for the quality of life that can be maintained only by constant vigilance and intelligent planning, the very essence of the Punahou Vista commotion.
It would behoove The Advertiser to explain to Makiki residents how the City Council will handle the ultimate decision on this project, since Andy Mirikitani, whose district this is, may or may not be in a position to vote on it.
Mayor's decision shows respect to community
I would like to express my support of Mayor Harris' decision to prevent artwork featuring a nude woman on a cross from being displayed at the Honolulu Hale.
The artwork is a direct insult to Christians and, most importantly, to God Himself. The American Civil Liberties Union has some nerve to say that Mr. Harris' action is a violation of the artist's civil rights. The ACLU would be outraged had the nude woman been hanging on a Jewish star of David instead.
Refusing to display naked women on sacred emblems is not a matter of violating civil rights, but a matter of respect to various people in the community.
All teachers need TV scan converter
Is there a Department of Education plan to provide each teacher with a TV scan converter, which costs about $100, so that teachers can begin incorporating educational Web sites into their lesson plans, i.e. display Web sites on their classroom TV sets?
As it stands, teachers (except for teachers in technology-related subjects) rely almost entirely on the chalkboard and textbook in their "attempt" to convey information and concepts during large-group instruction. Students then go home and get the same information conveyed in an interesting and effective way on a Web site, which uses photographs, sound, printed text, graphics, video and animation.
Is anyone in the DOE evangelizing this inexpensive way of improving instruction? Does anyone really care? And we wonder why kids are disruptive and inattentive in the classroom.
Moloa'a Bay, Kaua'i
Disposal fee a smart way to deal with problem
Mahalo to whomever was responsible for the removal of the butchered pig carcass from the vandalized vehicle in Makaha. It was a disgusting, disrespectful act.
Another mahalo to Mr. Hilderbrandt, in his Aug. 19 letter, for the suggestion of a disposal fee to be paid when registering a vehicle in Hawai'i. Brilliant idea, however, probably impossible to implement.
Don't turn area into another Waikiki
Driving across the Pali, I was dismayed to see that our state or the city has committed yet another tasteless error. Tropical foliage has been planted around a number of trees and on some traffic islands at the top of the Pali.
This area does not need to be landscaped. What's next? Baskets of Jeremy's petunias on light poles?
Please, have the sense to leave well enough alone and allow us our un-Waikiki commute through a beautiful, natural area.
Help came when it was needed desperately
On July 7, I was driving with my wife, who is wheelchair-bound, from Makaha to Kaiser Permanente in Moanalua, where she was scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. surgery to replace her pacemaker, when my 11-year-old van blew out just past the Kapolei exit.
I coasted onto the shoulder of the highway. My wife and I, both in our 80s, were not helpless but certainly impaired by age. Not having a cell phone, I did not know what to do. I stood facing traffic, waving my arm for someone, anyone, to stop.
After several minutes, I heard a voice behind me. A man had pulled up ahead of me and was walking toward me. I explained our situation to him and he said, "Don't worry. I'll help you." He picked up my wife and carried her to his car, then came back and helped me get my things together and to his car. On the way to the hospital he said, "Call me Mike."
At the hospital, Mike didn't wait for the attendants, who usually help my wife into a wheelchair. He picked her up, carried her to a wheelchair and made sure her feet were on the footrests. I thanked him, and he gave me his card.
My wife passed away on July 16. I would like the world to know of this kindly man who came along when we so desperately needed help.
James A. Cook