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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 5, 2003

Trustees should not have wavered

By Kealamokihana Jackson

Kealamokihana Jackson is a 1956 graduate of Kamehameha Schools and lives on Hawaiian Homestead land in Wai'anae.

Kamehameha Schools' trustees have no clue as to the meaning of pono.

Like other Hawaiians, I was stunned by the trustees' legal settlement that gave away an educational opportunity for a Hawaiian child to attend Kamehameha. This public relations planned release of information: the hint, the TV news, read it in the papers — and we will talk story later — left us with a deep sense of loss, betrayal, broken promises, fractured commitments and dashed hopes.

This makes two non-Hawaiian admissions engineered by the trustees, all in the name of protecting the will and the Hawaiians-only admissions policy.

The trustees' legal strategy failed in the Maui admissions; it deterred nothing. Is this new legal strategy intended to encourage new challenges to the admissions policy?

Trustees promised us they would fight the attacks against the Hawaiian-preference policy. Trustees told us never again on their watch will a non-Hawaiian be admitted and they would take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court. We marched with them in unity. We had faith in the trustees that they would represent the Hawaiian people in opposing any and all attackers who tried to steal or to take away opportunities for Hawaiians to get an education at Kamehameha.

It would have been equally sound for the trustees to announce that an opening in admissions is not for sale and will never be offered as collateral to settle a legal claim or threat. It would have been honorable for the trustees to adopt the position that Kamehameha is unwavering in its commitment to rectifying past wrongs, dedicated to creating and improving educational opportunities for Hawaiian children to excel.

It would have been consistent with all the legal arguments the school has made in defense of its preference policy if the trustees took the firm position that every educational opportunity given to a child of Hawaiian ancestry means that Kamehameha is one step closer to improving on the capability and well-being of the Hawaiian people and future generations.

Even if Kamehameha wins its case in the Supreme Court, the trustees have damaged their credibility as leaders.