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LETTERS for January 7 issue

January 7, 2010
Lahaina News

CHARTER SCHOOLS OFFER LOCAL CONTROL OF EDUCATION



There is an inverse relationship between the size and complexity of a bureaucracy and its responsiveness to individuals and communities. This principle certainly applies to Hawaii’s Department of Education. We are 14th in the nation in the amount of money spent per child, yet we rank 47th and 48th in eighth grade reading and math scores, respectively.


Many blame, among other things, Hawaii’s single statewide school district. New teachers have learned innovative theories and techniques in their education, yet because of the bureaucracy of such a large school system, they aren’t able to implement them in the classroom.


Thus, many parents have recently advocated for more local control through countywide school districts. However, besides being uneconomical and unconstitutional, they would just be adding another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy. We must bypass the county level and go straight to the individual school community.


Due to the No Child Left Behind Act, every public school in this country will eventually “restructure.” Schools are hiring private, for-profit companies such as ETS and Edison Learning to come in and teach the teachers, costing taxpayers millions and lowering the morale and sense of autonomy of school’s faculty and children. However, the NCLB Act does give a school another option for restructuring: converting to a charter school and, together with the community of parents, taking more responsibility for itself. If the principal and at least 50 percent of teachers and parents agree, they can begin the conversion process. Teachers and administrators remain members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association and Hawaii Government Employees Association, respectively.


There are currently five conversion charter schools in Hawaii, including Kualapu‘u Elementary School on Molokai (which encompasses a Hawaiian language immersion program), each with its own local school board. Parent involvement is key — studies have shown that it increases children’s performance.


A common misconception about conversion charter schools is that they are “privatized;” they are not. They are still public schools. There is a comprehensive evaluation process set up by the Charter School Review Panel, also charged with ongoing monitoring. To make this a viable option for our schools, please contact your legislator to encourage the reinstatement of charter schools’ funding, lost in the last several legislative sessions.


While perhaps not for every school community, conversion charter schools would be a win/win for the children, parents, teachers and administrators of many of Maui’s public schools.


NETRA HALPERIN, Kihei





TAKE ACTION AGAINST POLLUTION



Imagine in your mind how bad pollution can get. Pollution can worsen and be a global KILLER, because pollution can contain harmful contents that contaminate the air, water and the land! Pollution does come from factories and vehicles, but we, the human beings, are also another source to the pollution.


First, factories, like the sugar cane factory, can contaminate the air that we breathe. With all that smoke, I know some people in the county have medical conditions, such as asthma. Some people would be visiting the doctor’s office every now and then. When this pollution can get really out of hand, statistics show that pollution can turn the air (like you smoking more than one pack of cigarettes in a day).


Second, most people in Hawaii leave their trash behind and it ends up in our ocean. There are many things that end up in the ocean: rope, plastic bags, cigarette butts, soda pack rings — you name it. Our marine life will end up in a big mess. Many of the fish, whales, sharks and other little creatures would die. There wouldn’t be fish for restaurants, whales for whale watching, and little creatures for you to see when you go swimming.


You may think that pollution isn’t such a bad thing, but pollution can contribute to global warming. You already know the effects —  the warming of the Earth’s surfaces and the rise of carbon dioxide in the air. Would you think that pollution is bad?


Now you know how pollution can have a big effect on all of us. It can either be from factories or us. We all can do something to help. We can have our cars run on vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is a more green alternative to gas. We can all save our used vegetable oil, and a company will recycle it and use it as fuel. Also, everyone in the neighborhood can have a cleanup day to clean the streets and make it nice and clean. Slowly, we can help save our planet.


JHEREENE ARCONADO, Lahaina





SUPPORT CLEAN ENERGY PROJECTS



I had the opportunity to take a leisurely stroll along the walkway through the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge on a beautiful Maui day, catching a glimpse of a few wild birds mauka, and a couple of our annual cetacean visitors breaching in nearshore waters.


At the end of the walkway, manmade objects that help provide our island’s electricity highlight the panorama. While the windmills atop the West Maui Mountains may not be picturesque, if you pan to the right, the view is blotched by the huge steel poles carrying the electrical lines to the butt-ugly, diesel-fueled generating plant with three towers belching stinky, soot-carrying smoke, spewing out over the refuge.


So, whatever location is selected for the next phase of this clean energy source, let’s quickly have the windmills built as one more step in reducing importation of more petroleum to foul the air, send us into deeper debt and fuel military unrest taking lives daily.


MIKE MORAN, Kihei





CLEAN HOUSE DURING THE 2010 ELECTION



It’s time to start actually putting most of our leaders and their hatchet men and women in prison where they belong.    


What is the penalty for driving our Hawaii and Maui people out of business and forcing them and their children into welfare, illiteracy and homelessness? So far, it’s been reelection.


See anything wrong with this picture? Hawaii and county government is a dead, week-old fish in the sun, rotten from our governor’s office all the way down to the local traffic court! Reelect no one!


BOBBY BAKER, Kihei





THE ARMY NEEDS RECRUITS



The Army needs recruits


Find new soldiers, where you can. Get them ready, for Iran.


Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced he’s going to beef up the Army again. Another 20,000 recruits. And why not? Afghanistan and Iraq are busily chewing through our troops, Iran is waiting, and the Great Recession is still churning out fodder for recruitment. Might as well grab them now, while war sounds patriotic and they don’t have much else to do.


To get such youngsters into the right frame of mind, some towns invite the military to publicly show off their wares. They’d have you think that shooting people is the most natural thing in the world. Of course, these days, maybe it is, so why not start with kindergartners? That’s now one target audience, at least (according to reports) in Juneau, Alaska and the State of Hawaii. In Tarpon Springs, Florida, they do wait until high school, but then allow commercial gun dealers to tag along with the soldiers. In between, we have the Junior ROTC.


In Philadelphia, the Army has struck off on its own with a new prototype. It rented an empty mall store and set up idealized electronic combat scenes where young people can shoot up the “enemy” in simulators and video games. Luckily, the enemy doesn’t shoot back. Most of us had gotten that stuff out of our systems by the time we were ten, but this is for youth who still cling to childhood war fantasies. The place also draws protesters.


Of course, even in a jobless recovery, recruitment is no picnic. The Army reports that 75 percent of age-eligible youth aren’t qualified. There have always been plenty who flunked the entry exam, flunked out of school or flunked the police-record search. Now the big hurdle is flunking the weight/height ratio. Obesity is suddenly all the rage. Luckily, waivers of all these flaws are common.


And blessedly, all those excited young bucks and does entering the service can’t foresee what life will be like when they return as civilians. Mental and physical injuries can disable them for life. PTSD victims often find that marriages erode, landlords get cranky, jobs annoy, families lack understanding and police grow irritable. Plus, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t see what Agent Orange, depleted uranium or toxic fumes have to do with your later health problems. Let alone those of your kids.


Maybe the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan isn’t the Vietnam War, but a nation that lures its young into the military, sucks out their life, and deposits their living carcasses on the scrap heaps of society is morally bankrupt. Its victories of greed and power destroy its fiber and soul.


Not to say that we’re describing the United States here, but who else? Well, maybe Britain, too. And maybe it’s just that we vets have a little clearer view of some things. If so, it’s time for a national program of contact lenses to help everyone share the vision.


WILLIAM A. COLLINS, Veterans for Peace





RESPECT YOUR NEIGHBORS



I sympathize with recent letter writers regarding noise levels in Lahaina. Such intrusion on an individual’s peace of mind is just plain wrong. There is no legislating human consideration. We have to individually apply it in our daily lives. And that goes for elected bureaucrats as well.  


In a world where it seems as though most people “don’t give a flying you-know-what,” well, just maybe they do! Others need to be reminded of the Golden Rule — treat others as you wish to be treated.  


Here’s my laundry list of complaints, and I’m hoping that anyone this list resonates with might be able to adjust their habit or practice in such a way that it is less imposing.


Buses zoom down the street I live on at all hours. There is no need to rev the accelerator en route. A nice, low, even throttle, thank you. Thankfully, there are some bus drivers who are very considerate and go at a reasonably slow and even pace. There are about five vendors overall who park in front of our house in a no-parking zone, very often leaving their engines or beepers running. 


Polite requests for a change in parking venue have been met with a wrath I can only describe as unwarranted. Where are people’s manners?


I am thankful for several noises though — the garbage truck for one, children playing on their skateboards, laughter of tourists passing by. Leaf blowers are repeat offenders in these parts. If these archaic contraptions must be used, I am appreciative that the local ones have started to use them on a lower power, so as not to kick up as much dust. 


Communicate with your neighbors, in case they need to be reminded to take greater care. We are a small community and we should have a greater regard for one another. If your neighbor doesn’t, then lead by example.


NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST
 
 

 

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