Letters for Saturday, December 16, 2017

Walkers need places to sit

We are Canadian and have been coming to Kauai on holiday for nearly 50 years, having owned a condo here for 30 years, so it is very dear to our hearts.

In all this time there have been no pavements in certain areas, especially past Brenneckes. A highly dangerous area which an enormous number of walkers frequent, of which there a lot always on Kauai. We are getting older and are always looking for a bench to sit on, none.

Karen and Peter Will, Vancouver, B.C.

State of Hawaii education funding

Gary Hooser is correct in arguing that our public school student education is underfunded, but it’s not for the reason he suggests. He’s also correct in encouraging us all to participate in our government process.

Several decades ago, when Gary was serving in the Legislature, he sponsored a public education forum on Kauai. Attendees included the Legislature’s chair of the Finance Committee, Kauai’s Department of Education Superintendent, Dan Hamada, and Kauai’s representative on the Board of Education, Dr. Mitsugi Nakashima.

The event was staged at the Kauai Resort Hotel (at the time) in one of their meeting rooms. The head table was about 24 feet long, consisting of four each 6-foot tables. Seated at the extreme left were the two educators and on the far right were Gary and the other legislator.

I testified, citing numerous front-page articles from The Honolulu Advertiser (at the time), documenting the antagonism between the Legislature and the Department of Education. I pointed out the seating of the panelists physically illustrates the problem. On the far left were the educators responsible for the education of our children. On the far right were the legislators responsible for the money. They were more than physically separated.

Every year, the Department of Education presents a budget to the legislature with its funding priorities. And, every year that Legislature gerrymanders at least 25 percent of that budget to their members’ districts pet projects, ignoring the department’s priorities.

Ron Menor, at the time a powerful state Senator, bragged to our Rotary Club how he was able to fund a new library at a brand new school in his Mililani District, a brand new community. Challenging him with the gerrymandering of funds argument, he responded that his job was to represent his district.

Additionally, the Legislature imposes reporting requirements on our overworked teachers, to support its own interests. These elected officials are not educators.

The money for education is there. And, a very significant portion of that funding is being diverted to satisfy interests other than our children’s education.

The responsibility for our public education is given to the Department of Education. They should also control the funding. Synergy of purpose will yield efficiency of funding to support our teachers, and benefit the whole community.

Honestly, the Legislature will never give up control of education funding. Why should it? Maybe they’ll consider public interest, for a change.

Michael Curtis, Koloa


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