New hope for schools

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November 16th, 2009 :: Permalink

Aloha ~
I title my comments today, New Hope for Fools ...

Let's own up to this truth: We really don't care about Hawai'i's education system or our Keiki. A confused Governor Lingle told the media, "It's raining on the kids now ... a perfect time for the rainy day fund to be used."

She initially refused to hand our Keiki an umbrella by allowing the furloughs. She could have borrowed from any of Hawai'i's relief funds and apparently continues to resist tapping the Hurricane fund for education purposes. She refused to consider a special session and now appears to be calling for one - PLEASE CALL IT. I also remain unclear about the infamous $35 million in federal money. U.S. Education secretary Duncan thought it was on her desk. Lingle's staff initially told us it had been spent; they later said it had been assigned to charter schools. Where is it?

Not withstanding her current FLIP FLOPS she won't borrow from any of Hawai'i's funds until the New Year. Sorry, kids ... you'll have to study in the rain a while longer.

Lingle reportedly claims her proposed compromise is "fair and represents a shared sacrifice on everyone's part."

Humm ... there's that EVERYONE illusion again. The $50 million comes from the Attorneys General tobacco settlement. Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds et al will be doing their part. Teachers will lose 15 planning days ... did I mention teachers ... they will also be TAXED 5.5 percent.

To Lingle and many others this represents a compromise - tobacco money, reduction in teacher planning days, and a 5.5 percent rather than 7.9 percent TAX on teachers. With whom is Lingle bargaining? When we take away planning days teachers aren't as effective so we're still punishing our Keiki. Clearly Lingle is only looking to satisfy outraged parents by providing baby-sitters on Fridays.

Millions of visitors will enjoy the riches of Hawai'i over the period yet leaders do not consider our Keiki sufficiently valuable to ask them to chip in a few pennies. United Airlines doubled the cost of travel to the islands recently although fuel costs remain constant. The private sector has no problem asking society to support their bottom line.

As I pointed out last week we're afraid to ask our nation's MOST WEALTHY to sacrifice. Financial employees on Wall Street will receive $29.7 billion in BONUSES for their work. Hawai'i's taxpayers helped the industry after their collapse. Apparently our leaders are embarrassed to ask for assistance although bonuses are up 60 percent from last year. Each of the 119,000 employees will receive some $250K on average.

The challenge facing us is to come up with sufficient revenue to close 27 furlough days. The going rate per day is about $4.2M, which totals $114M. If each of the 119,000 financial employees DONATED $960 to Hawai'i's kids there would be ZERO furlough days.

Their bonuses would be reduced to $248,621.80, on average. Hey Ms. Lingle ... do you still believe it's raining on Wall Street?

Governor Lingle hopes to fool you by claiming her compromise is fair and represents a shared sacrifice on everyone's part. Yet she refuses to ask the general population or millions of visitors to join in. She refuses to ask our MOST WEALTHY to sacrifice. By increasing their taxes just 0.24 percent, we would bring our Keiki in from the rain.

You are correct, David, the political competition will not end. Yet let's not fool ourselves by claiming to have solved this crisis in public education. Our governor simply pulled a fast one by adding teachers to Keiki as the hostages in this financial game.

A*L*O*H*A

FOLLOW UP:
Aloha innocent observer ~
I may be a fool but I recognize a sham when I see one. You really don't understand a teacher's day, do you? Teachers run red-hot during a school year.

Let's say you are a math teacher and have two classes each of Business Math and Algebra I with one Geometry class. Teachers usually have one non-teaching period to manage school admin. When would you prepare for Monday's classes - since you are occupied between 8am and 2:30pm? Few teachers get a complete lunch break, as they're working with students.

A teacher spends the weekend preparing. After Monday's full day there are hours of papers to grade and record. Then it's time to begin preparing for Tuesday's schedule.

Clearly you only know "fuzzy" math because this time extends well beyond six hours. Some teachers volunteer after school or work for nickels and dimes to assist students in extra-curricular activities such as sports, music or leadership development.

But let's return to shared sacrifice. Why take away planning days or cut teacher pay (which is the same as a tax)? Why are you so opposed to adding a GET? This would be "shared sacrifice." Teachers are residents who would suffer this tax increase along with you and me.

Apparently you believe it is unfair to subject 1.3 million residents and millions of visitors to a SMALL increase in taxes when our state can simply penalize 13,000 teachers with LARGE 5-8 percent tax increases.

From an economic standpoint in a tough DEMAND crisis it makes no difference mathematically whether the education shortfall is balanced with a SMALL increase on millions or a LARGE increase on thousands. We take the same amount from the collective pocket book either way.

Yet there is a HUGE difference to a family psychologically that loses 5-8 percent of their base pay compared to millions who lose pennies. As I have demonstrated repeatedly we could ask our MOST RICH to sacrifice and they wouldn't skip a beat.

You harbor the perception that public schools are bloated and inefficient and therefore do what you can to ensure they fail. People frequently compare public to private schools. This is not a valid comparison. Private schools get to SELECT their students. Charter schools have been touted as the best opportunity to innovate but studies consistently show their shortcomings.

If you want to debate the best options to educate all our citizenry I am open to that discussion. Yet stop taking teaching or planning days from our teachers and Keiki. There is nothing logical or rational in such a plan - particularly if one believes our education system is imperfect.

Let's focus solely on funding public education without all this ideological and emotional rhetoric.

We need to end 27 furlough days. This comes to about $114 million. Show me your brilliance by proffering a proposal that "represents a shared sacrifice on everyone's part."

I'm a product of the public school system ... I may be the fool but I've listed a number of ways to share the sacrifice. All the superior private and charter school grads have yet to put anything PONO on the table.

A*L*O*H*A