Letters to the Editor
Foster competition; forget gas price caps
The renewed efforts by some members of the Legislature to enact price control for gasoline are bound to fail. Almost everyone agrees that prices and profit margins at the wholesale level are higher than the average on the Mainland. And almost everyone agrees that with only two refineries, there is extreme concentration of the industry in Hawai'i.
A better policy would be to foster more wholesale competition. We don't need any more refineries but the wholesale market would be enhanced if more retail distributors owned storage facilities and were more able to import refined product. Today, apart from the two refineries, only Aloha Petroleum has significant storage capacity.
It would be a better policy to offer both a carrot and a stick to encourage the development of more oil storage facilities in Hawai'i and more competition. The carrot could be in the form of tax credits toward the development of modern tank farms. The stick could be a complementary policy requiring the removal and relocation of the old, unsightly and potentially dangerous collection of old tanks along Nimitz. This would also encourage continued efforts to redevelop and reclaim the waterfront.
'Weighted' budget does not mean loss of money
Your article about the formula for sending dollars to schools points out that the model could trigger complaints. Not if it's done correctly.
The only reason to make this change is if it improves student achievement. Edmonton, Canada, put the dollars and control over how they are used at the school level, held schools accountable for improved performance and raised student achievement.
However, this formula is effective only if it follows three steps: First, the central office relinquishes some resources it controls to the schools. Second, begin with weights that mirror current allocations (with consensus these change over time to reflect student needs). Third, schools are billed for the average salary of their staff. If all three steps are followed, every school comes out ahead, and only the central office control is reduced.
The Department of Education model included only a fraction of the current school expenditures. None of the central office resources went into the model. The DOE model did not follow the other steps either.
A weighted formula does not mean schools "lose" money if done properly. The big question is, can, or will, the DOE implement it properly? Or is it too unwilling to give up its central power and control over money, people and schools?
I respectfully disagree with your editors. I do not think we will ever see true school-level empowerment under our current single statewide district. We need to create new districts that are designed for this system to work, and that are responsive to their communities.
Laura H. Thielen
Hawai'i State Board of Education
Benefits for youth far outweigh economic value
Regarding the Nov. 29 article on Honolulu Marathon entries this year, accountability, especially when public money is involved, is important, but let's not overlook other benefits these types of events bring to the state that can't always be measured in numbers or dollars.
For example, the article cites the Pro Bowl as contributing less than the annual marathon into the state's economy. But the Pro Bowl this year made great strides in reaching out to communities across the state with the Pro Bowl Youth Training Clinics, which visited every island except Ni'ihau.ÊThese clinics were sponsored jointly by the National Football League and the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
More than 500 children (males and females) on the Big Island, both Hilo and Kona, had the chance to be "up close and personal" in nearly two-hour sessions with some of their favorite NFL heroes, including Warren Moon, Ashley Lelie, Jason Elam and Kimo Von Oelhoffen.ÊDitto that for Kaua'i, Maui, Lana'i and Moloka'i.
On O'ahu, more than 600 kids had the same opportunity. So at the end of the day, more than 1,000 Hawai'i youths across the state were given an opportunity to show their stuff (and many did) and learn athletic as well as life lessons from the pros.
How can you put an economic value on that kind of once in a lifetime opportunity that heretofore was only offered in Super Bowl cities?
Pro Bowl Ohana Committee
Budget cuts could start with City Council
City Councilman Charles Djou takes great pride in defeating the vehicle weight tax increase. He calls for budget cuts instead.ÊIf that is Djou's position, then let him put forth real and not token budget cuts. Have him start with the City Council budget for staff and expenses as well as the mayor's office before looking at further reducing city services.
No one looks forward to a tax increase. However, I am in favor of finding additional revenue to pay for the salary increase that Honolulu police officers won through arbitration. Without a well-educated and trained police department, we will suffer even more crimes than we currently experience.
Milo D. Huempfner
Betrayed Hawaiians will continue to suffer
A Kamehameha trustee once said, "We've always sought to address the educational needs of Hawaiians first. It must remain that way." Thanks for not protecting the last institution that was founded to improve the well-being of Hawaiians.
Another trustee said, "K(amehameha) S(chools) believes that its admission policy is consistent with applicable law. We will vigorously defend (it) and we are confident that we will prevail." What happened to doing what was right for the Hawaiian community?
And yet another trustee said, "(Let's talk about) that issue of social justice and why Kamehameha Schools is so important (and) should educate Native Hawaiian children." Well, now who is going to pay for the poverty, increasing ignorance and homelessness for the one Hawaiian student who was denied his or her rightful place at Kamehameha?
I am saddened by this Hawaiian institution that has betrayed its own people. After asking for our support to defend Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop's legacy, you turn your backs on us and settle out of court.
Hawaiians continue to suffer for a justice that has not been met.
Lisa De Mello
Book illuminates art of teaching at its best
Frances H. Kakugawa of Honolulu has been nominated for a National Teacher Award by members of the profession in Pittsburg, Kan., and we think folks in Alohaland should know about it.
She has written a book that many of us old-timers wish had been written 50 years ago. If we had read it before going into the classroom, we would have been better teachers. At $16.95 a copy, "Teacher You Look Like a Horse" is worth a whole semester of seminars on methods and materials.
I write as one who has spent a good deal of time in the classroomÊtrying to teach English composition and literature to seventh-graders on up. Texts on teaching theory and "philosophy" usually collapse on contact with classroom realities, but Kakugawa's joyful, funny, first-person account of episodes from her own classroom illuminate the art of teaching at its best.
Her students helped her write the book. Their contributions corroborate and enlarge upon the impressions it leaves: This gal knows her stuff (she is a poet, too), but she also knows how to lead students to knowledge ... most importantly to self-knowledge. And how to write well, too.