Letters for Thursday, January 11, 2018

More money won’t necessarily lead to better education system

On Wednesday, December 13, Gary Hooser wrote an opinion piece in TGI that began “When government tells you there is no money, what they are really telling you is that it’s not a priority.”

When a politician tells me we don’t pay enough in taxes what they are really saying is there is no quenching their thirst for other people’s money. Has there ever been a government entity anywhere at any time that said “We don’t need any more money”? Gary Hooser asserts that our education spending … is the lowest in the nation, yet according to the Department of Education we rank 17th in the nation for per-pupil spending.

Let’s just say for the sake of discussion that everything he says is true and all we have to do to solve this problem of mal-education is to raise taxes so we can throw enough money at it. Has anyone any idea how much that would be? Instead of always asking for more, more, more, how much will it take to finally solve the problem of our kids not receiving a good education? Is there any public school anywhere you can point to as a model that has enough funding? Or can you point to any school that provides an exemplary education and use their funding amount as a model? If we just had as much money as school X then we could achieve similar results? If a simple lack of funds is the problem, how much money is the answer?

If adequate funding is a “HUGE factor,” then adequate funding will produce HUGE benefits. According to governing.com, in order for Hawaii to achieve number-one status in the USA for per-pupil spending we would have to go from $12,855 to at least $21,207, beating out New York, about a 65-percent increase which would be more than just about any other country in the world. That would make our kids smarter than the average New Yorker. Surely that isn’t our goal. We need to spend more than that. So tell us, how much and how do you arrive at that figure? If no such figure exists then we must be focused on the wrong solution.

Here’s an outrageous idea. Although the USA ranks third in the world for per-pupil spending, we are not in the top 10 for academic excellence. Why not look worldwide at who provides the best education to their students and examine how they do things differently? Actually, this has already been done. The reason the public doesn’t know about it is because the answer to the problem does not involve more money for public unions.

Stan Lake, Kalaheo

Government not obeying its own minimum wage law

Precinct elections officials are required to work from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. straight through, with only short breaks. That’s 13 and a half hours. They get paid only $85. But if the minumum hourly wage is $10.10 then they should be paid $136.35 plus a premium rate for extra hours beyond 8 in a single day. That’s not even counting the mandatory training session a few weeks before election day.

When this discrepancy is pointed out to bureaucrats in the Office of Elections, the response is “Oh, that’s just a one-time honorarium and our volunteers know what they are signing up for.” Would such a response be considered valid if a private employer were accused of violating the law regarding wages and hours? Must elections officials create a labor union to demand employer compliance with the law?

I have worked at every election since 1992, and will continue doing it. I would work for zero pay because I view it as the duty of a good citizen to perform community service. And I enjoy meeting and assisting hundreds of my neighbors, who often bring their cute kids along.

My complaint is that government is so arrogant that it refuses to obey the same laws it imposes upon everyone else. And the large gap between actual pay vs. minimum wage law has been true throughout all 25 years I have worked for the Office of Elections.

Kenneth R. Conklin, Kane’ohe

  1. Charlie chimknee January 11, 2018 4:42 am Reply

    Aloha Kenneth, you’ve seemed To have skipped over the large number of the self employed and the small business owners who work 15/7 for basically roof and food; while hiring help at the wages you speak of.



    1. Sunrise_blue January 11, 2018 7:37 pm Reply

      In the fast food industry or restaurants. But in other industries like engineering, construction, or travel industry, this would be not it. They work for the pay and not for the who or whom.

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