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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Letters to the Editor

ETHICS CASE

SEN. KANNO ACTED IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY

Your April 20 article "Senator to get ethics hearing" raises concerns. Sen. Brian Kanno is being charged with an ethics violation resulting from his advocacy (rather than "coercion," as you state) on behalf of a cabin steward hired in Hawai'i by Norwegian Cruise Line, and fired in California with no recompense or financial means to return to Hawai'i.

Auwe! That is no way to treat an employee.

Further bothersome about this situation is the appearance that Sen. Kanno is being targeted by the state Ethics Commission. If there has not been any contested-case hearing in 21 years, why now and why against only the chairman of the Senate Labor Committee?

Sen. Kanno acted in his capacity as an elected official to seek answers for a policy that affected a citizen of our state.

D. Shimizu
Honolulu

FATALITIES

TAKE CARE WHEN YOU ARE BEHIND THE WHEEL

When I open my Internet browser to read the horrific deaths on the front page, it is so sad to see that there are senseless and unnecessary accidents on O'ahu.

I am so sadly stricken by the vehicle accidents with the four Filipina women and the older Japanese gentleman within the past few days.

I pray for all the families who have lost their loved ones.

In the meantime, please take care of each other. Don't speed. Don't drink and drive. Be good to each other on the road. We need to take care of our Islands' people.

Melody-Lynn Bustos
Napa, Calif.

HOUSING

PLANNING COMMISSION AN ADVISORY BOARD ONLY

This is in response to the April 23 op-ed piece by Craig Watase in The Advertiser regarding affordable housing issues in which the role of the Planning Commission of the City and County of Honolulu was mischaracterized.

The Planning Commission is tasked with reviewing requests by applicants for matters primarily pertaining to zoning. We hold public hearings, after which we vote and send our recommendations to the City Council. As such, we are an advisory board and do not have the mandate or authority to develop our own "proposals" for development and particularly for affordable housing.

In this advisory capacity, we do ensure that requests for residential zoning coming before us contain provisions for affordable housing as appropriate.

Diane Peters-Nguyen
Chairwoman, city Planning Commission

CORE CURRICULUM

EDITORIAL TOOK CHEAP SHOT AT EDUCATION PIECE

How typical that The Advertiser, which has given much space to core curriculum advocates (Senate Bill 3059), felt it necessary to run a same-day editorial countering Paul Deering's excellent commentary on the imposition of a standardized core curriculum on Hawai'i public schools (April 28).

Not only did this editorial bemoan the fact that SB3059 is not in its original form (which, by its very nature, promotes a "one-size-fits-all" approach to educating children), it also went on to criticize our hard-working public school teachers.

Teaching under the mindless mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act is extremely challenging, and it doesn't help when an ill-informed editor of a local newspaper takes cheap shots. But then it is so much easier to sit at a desk and lecture on what should be done in education than to actually get out into the field and do something about it.

Everyone in Hawai'i has a responsibility to improve our schools. This will be best achieved through a collaborative effort that reflects a variety of interests and not through a legislative act that reflects the interests of a few.

Margaret J. Maaka
Kane'ohe

CURRICULUM

EDUCATION QUANDARY

Mr. Paul Deering of the UH education department writes that a core curriculum that relies on the "The Greatest Hits of the Dead White Guys Society" would be rotten to the core (April 30).

I wonder, since Mr. Deering noted that he is Italian-Irish (white European based) if his alternative is any better since his suggested laissez faire curriculum comes from "the greatest hits of the live white guys society"? This is who we have teaching teachers at UH? Auwe!

Paul E. Smith
Honolulu

HANA SCHOOL

OTHER TEACHERS ARE GRATEFUL FOR THE HOUSING

This letter is in response to the April 17 article on how "some" of the teachers unfairly blasted the teacher's housing situation here in Hana.

My wife and I both teach at the school, and we have been living in the very same teacher's housing for a few years now. Although it is not perfect, we cleaned it up and took good care of it and are thankful for the opportunity to even have a place to stay, especially at the low rent we are being charged. There was nothing in the house when we moved in, but we took the time and effort to save money and gladly paid for the things that we needed.

The article misrepresented some of the teachers who are indeed grateful for a place to stay and are willing to pay the price for it.

Malofou A. Moeai
Hana, Maui

CEDED LANDS

WILL HAWAIIANS BE JUSTLY COMPENSATED?

After reading the April 29 article "OHA suit dismissal affirmed," one could reasonably conclude that OHA aims to rip off Hawai'i's taxpayers for the betterment of Hawaiians.

In the early 1960s, at a time when the state Departments of Land and Natural Resources and Hawaiian Homelands could and did exchange Hawaiian lands, Hawaiian Homesteaders approached the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs for help. When Hawaiians requested justification and information from the two state agencies regarding land exchanges, both would blame the other for less-than-fair land swaps.

At that time, it was common for Hawaiian families owning one acre of beachfront Waikiki property to have their land taken from them in exchange for 10 acres of unusable lands located in a valley. Thanks to AHCC, under the leadership of George Hi'ilani Mills, state statutes were changed, outlawing this process.

Current state Attorney General Mark Bennett believes that OHA's suit was justly dismissed, which to me is synonymous with former AG Margery Bronster's belief that Kamehameha Schools was fairly compensated in the late 1990s when the state condemned its Ka Iwi shoreline.

The above injustices demonstrate why we get so upset when a state agency attempts to settle with us for peanuts rather than the lands and/or monetary amounts to which we're actually entitled. Our properties were taken from us, and we are entitled to either have them rightfully returned or be justly compensated for them.

Whitney T. Anderson
Waimanalo

CIVIL RIGHTS

GAY ACCOMMODATIONS BILL JUST CLARIFIES EXISTING LAW

The governor has indicated a hesitation to enact House Bill 1233 into law because it "would redefine the protected category "sex" to be "sex, including gender identity or expression' in the area of public accommodation law."

However, the Hawai'i Civil Rights Commission, her own executive agency charged with enforcing civil rights laws, has testified to the Legislature that it currently defines "sex" to include "gender identity and expression." Therefore, enacting this public accommodations bill would only codify and clarify the existing law as it is currently being enforced. This clarification will educate businesses of their current responsibility to the public and help businesses avoid unnecessary lawsuits.

Therefore, the only real change HB1233 proposes is adding "sexual orientation" to the civil rights statute governing public accommodations; the other civil rights statutes governing employment and housing already prohibit discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation."

The governor mistakenly believes that the current civil rights bill "has engendered much debate within the community" when, in fact, there has been no debate on the issue of "sexual orientation."

The legislative process is the recognized forum of community debate. The community participating in this process, both individuals and organizations, was very clear in its overwhelming support in favor of adding "sexual orientation" to this civil rights law. The opposition had an opportunity to publicly urge the legislators to amend the bill to address its specific concerns, but it chose not to do so.

Hawai'i's laws already prohibit discrimination in housing and employment; adding "sexual orientation" to public accommodations has not been debated within the community.

Civil rights laws governing public accommodations, such as hotels, car rentals, tour companies and restaurants, have a direct impact on our visitor industry. The gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, heterosexuals, intersexed and transgender people who travel from around the world to come to our Islands also deserve to be treated with aloha.

Kim Coco Iwamoto
Attorney, civil rights activist

FUNDING

TREAT OUR CHARTER SCHOOLS FAIRLY

In your April 17 editorial, you expressed some wonderment about charter schools wanting bureaucracy. That wonderment is well-based. Let us be perfectly clear: Charter schools definitely do not want a bureaucracy.

Charter schools were created to provide public school children a choice in education another way to reach children who prefer to learn in a more authentic learning environment. Autonomy freedom from the existing bureaucracy is the key to making charter schools a true alternative. The ultimate goal is to celebrate the independence of communities and the professionals they have chosen to educate students in the most efficient and effective manner without bogging them down in additional government red tape.

Charter schools, as you noted in your editorial, are proving to be successful. The growth has been tremendous in a very short period of time. This is primarily because many charter schools involve students in project-based, hands-on and student-centered learning. The Hawaiian-focused charter schools also add native culture and sense-of-place elements that can help students of any cultural background thrive. In all charter schools, a high degree of parental involvement is required.

Another difference is in assessments. The current public school system measures student/school success via one annual test, the Hawai'i State Assessment. Many charter schools utilize both formative and summative assessments that are authentic and performance-based to measure the growth of each student over time, rather than merely their status at a particular time.

As Superintendent of Education Patricia Hamamoto said in an interview with West Hawaii Today: "They (charter schools) are a source of creative and innovative teaching and instructional strategies. In time, the DOE should be able to replicate those practices that are viewed as best practices so we can reach more students."

We don't need a bureaucracy. Accountability? Yes and on both sides, not just holding the charters accountable as the proposed bill suggests, but also holding the BOE as the authorizer, and the DOE as the state and local educational agency, accountable for its responsibilities an aspect discussed at length at task force meetings but completely left out from the bill. Clarification and transparency of Hawai'i's charter school law? Yes. Following the rules and regulations and the spirit of the law? Yes. A process where past and current inequities can be addressed? Yes.

Charter schools need to be funded as per the law without undue delay. For example, according to the "Financial Analysis of Hawaii Public Schools" (Cooper/Ouchi, Nov. 24, 2003), currently the state spends an average of $12,692 on each public school student (this includes $2,270 spent by agencies other than the DOE). Charter school students receive $5,355 per pupil.

We need equitable funding that is delivered on time. We need the services and autonomy that the original law mandates. That will keep charter schools innovating and hopefully, in time, assisting all of Hawai'i's keiki.

Ku Kahakalau
Kanu o ka 'Aina Learning 'Ohana