Letters to the Editor
Local school control by principals best way
I do not agree that we need more school boards.
I have lived in Hawai'i for 50 years, with my children and grandchildren attending public schools. The legislation advancing in this session would do much to help the principals and teachers in their endeavors. Local school control by principals would solve a great deal and should be given a chance.
It is "pie in the sky" to think that you will have "a lot" of parents very, very active, as too many do not have time now with two parents working. They do, when necessary, meet with teachers and principals, and their input goes directly to the people who are "hands-on" with their children and are doing an outstanding job with what they have.
What we do need for this Board of Education in subsequent elections is better knowledge of the people running for these positions. Voters get only a few lines of information that the newspapers publish close to the election.
Ruth Dias Willenborg
Legislature isn't giving us what is needed
I have finally figured out why we can't fix our public education system: Nobody reads the bill before it becomes law.
Only a handful of people control what is written in the bill, and in the end it changes nothing. This pattern has repeated itself for the past 30 years, and it's about to repeat itself again.
The Advertiser wrote that the governor and Legislature have agreement on paper. The Legislature, DOE and the BOE want you to think that we have agreement. But when you look at what is written in the bill, we have no agreement.
The Legislature is making the central Department of Education bigger.
The Legislature is not giving schools control over all their fixed costs, and will give schools no control over discretionary money. The Legislature includes escape clauses that allow the DOE to shift funds away from schools out of the public eye.
The Legislature is setting up a decision-making system at the school level that is not accountable for results. The bill lets the DOE come up with the rules in secret, with no public notice or input.
The CARE Committee and the governor recommended a plan that would fundamentally change the Board of Education and the Department of Education. The bill the Legislature is about to pass does neither.
We have no agreement on paper, and we will have no fundamental change in our public education system if this bill passes into law.
Laura H. Thielen
State Board of Education member
CARE Committee member
Regents' battle with Dobelle is unsettling
University of Hawai'i President Evan Dobelle is a good man and a man of vision. He believes our university can be one of the best in the country and the world.
Upon arrival, Dobelle said that professors were paid far too little and that he would raise salaries. The latest historic raises for professors would never have happened under his predecessor, Ken Mortimer.
President Dobelle is a great supporter of Native Hawaiian education as a means to ameliorate past wrongs. That opinion makes him unpopular in certain circles. He believed in supporting Mazie Hirono in her campaign for governor. That really made him unpopular, especially to Lingle appointees to the UH Board of Regents. Is a man arrogant if he stands by his beliefs?
Gov. Lingle won fair and square and is doing a great job. She and President Dobelle work fine together, and regents should follow that example. Disagreements between a strong president and the Board of Regents are normal, but should be resolved behind closed doors, as public fights are extremely detrimental to university fund-raising and public morale. With all of America now privy to the attack, UH will never attract a better president for less pay.
Finally, any regent who is truly against federal funding for UH should resign from the board; the issue is education, not politics.
Professor, Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies
Vacation, sick leave benefits are exorbitant
The new HGEA contract gives employees across-the-board pay raises and new benefits that include 21 vacation days and 21 sick days per annum. That's over four weeks of vacation a year on top of a possible four weeks of sick days.
Benefits apply to new hires and individuals who have been working for less than a year. We as taxpayers pay for these exorbitant benefits.
In Europe, these types of benefits are common, but the last time I checked, we were part of the United States of America.
Attempt to censure Stonebraker shameful
Shame on Scott Saiki, the majority leader in the House of Representatives, who on April 5 asked the speaker to censure Rep. Bud Stonebraker on the floor of the House of Representatives.
What was Rep. Stonebraker's offense? He simply attempted to debate the wisdom of the Legislature's long-standing accounting practices of using tens of millions of dollars in special funds to bolster the general fund.
Shame on the majority leader for not only being unwilling to publicly debate how our tax dollars are handled, but more so for attempting to censure Rep. Stonebraker for doing what he is obliged to do by the state Constitution.
People of Hawai'i, wake up this election cycle.
Jim Hochberg Jr.
Forget it! Gas prices will only get higher
I found Manfred Zapka's April 7 letter on the rising price of gasoline refreshingly forthright. It is indeed time for us all to stop our pining for lower gas prices. Cheap gas is not some sort of right, it is a limited resource.
Last summer, I spoke with a vacationing distinguished senior scientist and geologist and he suggested that if not in our lifetime, most certainly in our children's lifetime, we will see gas go to $40 a gallon. Perhaps at that point we will finally reach the breaking point.
Until then, we need to get over it and move on to another source of energy. Of course, we will undoubtedly need to replace those in power who steer us toward this coveted oily monopoly.
John F. McGrady
Hawai'i's citizens aren't getting what we pay for
The Wall Street Journal reports that the state of Hawai'i has the fourth highest state tax burden of the 50 states. You would think that if we tax our people that heavily, we would be able to keep our roads repaired, our streets clean, our police and teachers decently paid and have an abundance of other quality services provided to the people of Hawai'i.
Since we don't have any of that, I guess we have to blame our elected officials, who must be squandering the funds on projects like the community signs, traffic cams and who knows what else. We need to elect representatives who can manage the state in a fiscally responsible way. It's time for change.
Gary G. Osterman