Letters for Tuesday, May 15, 2012

• Return education to local control • ‘Are you trying to turn Kaua‘i into California?’ • On Groucho Marx and KIUC opponents

Return education to local control

John Zwiebel sounds the alarm at the dismal state of United States education system. He rightly cites the dearth of qualified applicants for high tech jobs that are ultimately filled by the foreign born and educated. China now turns out more English-speaking engineers than we do.

His call for more spending on education may be appropriate in some instances but the facts present a different picture for the nation as a whole.

Inflation adjusted education dollars have increased 800 percent since 1960. Concurrently, teacher pay increased and performance decreased. Today U.S. students rank well toward the bottom compared to the rest of the world. What is most troubling is the longer they stay in school, they further they fall behind. In other words, the early grades show little difference with the rest of the world, but the longer the union-controlled, Department of Education-influenced system is in charge, the worse our students do. There simply is no correlation between dollars and performance.

Public schools in Washington D.C., New York and Los Angeles have some of the highest costs per student with abysmal results. States such as New Hampshire and Iowa have far lower costs but are well above average quality.

As far back as 1987, an entire generation, only 6 percent of 11th graders could perform multi-step math problems and use basic algebra. Almost none knew why The Federalist was written, and barely one-fifth knew when Lincoln was president. It’s little wonder we now have a sitting president who made the statement during his ‘08 campaign “we’ve been to 57 states and we have one more to visit”.

The only way to correct this disgraceful and dangerous trend is to return education to local control. Get rid of the Department of Education, whose history shows has done nothing to improve the quality of education.

And make teachers answer to parents — not their left wing unions. Recent statistics show that one in four delegates to the Democrat National Convention is either a National Education Association (union) member or the member’s spouse.

John Burns, Princeville

‘Are you trying to turn Kaua‘i into California?’

Mark Naea emerged from his stop-KIUC, anti-smart-meter website with a fine little piece of propaganda that I’d like to discuss (“KIUC gambling with our money, health,” May 5).

Once again, we see this “56 local governments … oppose … smart meters.”

It’s rather interesting, perhaps transparent, that Mark leaves out the fact that this reference is about California; given that “Are you trying to turn Kaua‘i into California?” is heard rather frequently around here.

A small sin of omission there; but, it gets better (or worse). These 56 “local governments” consist of 11 counties, 44 cities, and one Native American tribe.

Almost all the 44 cities are within the same 11 counties (up North) and have a voter base that would approve of this type of symbolic measure by their elected officials. The big exception is Simi Valley, but they’re close to erecting a wall around that city so different attitudes may have led to the same result.

Let me pause for perspective-building here: There are 478 municipal level local governments in California. That makes 44 less than 10 percent.

These 56 governments have no jurisdiction whatever in this matter. They have made resolutions that cost them nothing and win them votes. The California PUC, and only it, says yea or nay. This is the big sin of omission.

When fearmongers try to manipulate you this way, you don’t even have to dismantle their junk science or hysterical distortions.

Pete Antonson, Lawa‘i

On Groucho Marx and KIUC opponents

Some of those who constantly oppose KIUC remind me of a 1932 song by Groucho Marx:

I don’t know what they have to say,

It makes no difference anyway

Whatever it is, I’m against it!

No matter what it is or who commenced it,

I’m against it.

Your proposition may be good

but let’s have one thing understood

Whatever it is, I’m against it.

And even when you’ve changed it

or condensed it, I’m against it.

This island community is 89 percent dependent upon imported fossil fuel for energy.

I’m against it. I am against the importation of fossil fuels at the same rate we have been using them.

Thirty million gallons of fossil fuels are imported each year to this island for power production, and more for transportation. Even with health and environmental compliance in place, burning it causes emissions that damage our planet with climate change.

Protesting the continued importation of costly fuels is wasted effort as long as residents demand the comforts of reliable power. Fossil fuel makes up more than half of your electric bill.

Let’s focus on the strategic objective to increase energy diversity so that no one source amounts to 50 percent or more of our power supply by 2023. This is what the 2008-2023 KIUC Strategic Plan encourages.

Preferably, this objective can be met before another doubling or tripling of oil prices. Fuel cost will climb because it is a finite resource controlled by those who set the price with no concern for our welfare. Wars are fought over it.

Once that 50 percent goal of fossil fuel independence is reached, we will all breathe easier. I will still be against the dependency that remains, but not against the KIUC board, employees and all those members who are working to reduce it.

I am speaking on my own behalf and not speaking officially for the KIUC Board.

Carol Bain, KIUC Board Member, Lihu‘e

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