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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cataluna column

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Aiea Intermediate School students work through graphic arts exercises. Reforming the public school structure is needed for the good of students.

Advertiser library photo

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It was dark and cold as I was reading the Sunday Advertiser, sipping coffee, and trying to motivate myself to start my jog up Tantalus, when my eyes caught the photo of Jane Forester-Leong and Paul Leong in Lee Cataluna's column (Advertiser, Jan. 31). I slowly read every word and quickly took off for a jog full of gratitude and joy. The powerful ambience of Tantalus let my mind drift off into beautiful memories of Jane.

I remember becoming an instant friend with Jane more than 20 years ago at the tennis courts, as we both shared the same name and we both had accents, Jane from North Carolina, and mine from Australia. Jane was a fabulous tennis player, but very gracious and humble with her talent. Sadly I lost contact with Jane over the years until the emotional shock from reading Lee's article hit home.

It was very special of Paul to share his private life with us all. I compliment Lee on writing an article that gives us a reason to reflect on the circumstances of our present lives, savoring Paul's love for Jane as we appreciate the simplest of daily activities that we take so much for granted.

JANE GRAY | Honolulu



As Maui's mayor, Linda Lingle championed the principle of decentralizing state power by increasing home rule for the counties. As governor, she long championed the principle of decentralization to reform the public school system.

Now, she is invoking centralized state government power to derail a badly needed city-county project (rail), a goal she once supported, despite the fact that it: (1) is funded by a tax the county voted itself to levy and (2) was voted for by a majority of Oahu's voters.

This is all in a transparent attempt to make Mufi Hannemann look bad, and to try to enhance Duke Aiona's prospects of succeeding her in Washington Place.

Some principles are apparently expendable.

GERRY KEIR | Honolulu



A Feb. 1 letter to the editor ("Deal ensures tuition increases in future") ignored some key facts. In 2005 the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaii approved a six-year tuition schedule (2006-2012). Despite recent cuts to the UH budget, President M.R.C. Greenwood made the commitment to honor the existing tuition schedule through spring 2012. The recent contract settlement in no way affects that tuition schedule, so it is wrong to suggest that this contract will directly result in tuition hikes.

Increases built into this existing schedule are projected to align with the average tuition of peer institutions by the end of the schedule. Our tuition is currently below the national average for similar institutions. Our scheduled increases allow for parents and students to plan and have also been offset by four times the amount of available financial aid.

We will soon begin establishing the next tuition schedule, which would take effect in the fall 2012. Board of Regents policy requires that several factors are taken into account in determining tuition, including peer institution averages, the share of the cost that tuition covers, available financial aid, projected enrollments and funding from the Legislature.

The University of Hawaii provides an excellent education to the state's residents at an affordable and predictable cost.

LINDA K. JOHNSRUD | Vice president of academic planning, University of Hawaii



I disagree with our three former governors, all of whom served their respective terms while I served in the state Legislature, in regards to their suggestion that the governor appoint the Board of Education.

One of the most memorable episodes I experienced was when the BOE came up with multiple excuses to delay the forming of charter schools upon the Legislature's passing of a bill to create the charter school system. I remember this because I was a board member at Kaelepulu School, and I recall continuously going over the legislation and then meeting with the BOE regarding their so-called concerns.

During my years in the Legislature, many state superintendents told me that the best way to achieve accountability was to make the superintendent a part of the governor's Cabinet, which would make the position accountable to the governor, and allow that person to understand and be part of crafting the budget. Merely changing the BOE from an elected board to one appointed by the governor still leaves room for game playing by a body of people. How does one determine which members are effective and which are not? Let's abolish the BOE and instead have a superintendent appointed by the governor.

WHITNEY T. ANDERSON | Former state legislator


Many people are to blame for the dismal performance of Hawaii's public schools, but none more than Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi.

This man would rather launch personal attacks against Gov. Linda Lingle than take meaningful action to end the teacher furloughs that are closing our schools on Fridays.

As Lingle and the three previous governors correctly point out, reform of our mediocre school system must include an overhaul of the education power structure — especially the BOE. All four governors agree that the board is bogged down in politics and suffers from an appalling lack of accountability.

Rather than trying to deflect the blame for Hawaii's failing schools, Toguchi should take responsibility and become part of the solution. After all, he is the board chair (even though four board members tried to vote him out in December), isn't he?

Since 2003, Lingle has tried repeatedly to reform our public schools for the good of Hawaii's children and their families. Let's get the job done.