For Wednesday, January 12, 2011
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jan 12, 2011
To qualify as an expert on what's wrong with our education system and how to fix it, do not be a teacher. The misled, frustrated and disillusioned have found the Hawaii State Teachers Association and teachers easy prey to blame for much of our schools' ills.
Whatever one feels might be wrong with the HSTA, remember that the union makes no law, public policy or curriculum. Without the union, teachers are powerless to argue for what everyone says is a priority -- student learning -- and would lose what little voice they have in an environment of skyrocketing workloads and plummeting morale. Thus, the union serves a valid role, and without it teachers lose their already minuscule role in improving schools beyond their classrooms. Teachers don't want power; they only want to protect and promote what they know to be beneficial for students.
Parents must get involved and help their children and teachers improve the system; constant lambasting creates only more divisiveness and lowers morale. Teachers have a calling to help students. They need support, not negativity.
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It is offensive that Gov. Neil Abercrombie will add additional money to the government employee health care plan at this time. I realize that he has been in office only a few weeks; however, he must recognize that there are tens of thousands of our citizens who have sustained a reduction in their work hours, had their work benefits reduced, take home less money, and some lost their jobs in total. I personally know of no workers in the private sector who are better off today than he or she was 30 months ago. Not one.
On the contrary, politicians and government employees have received pay increases regularly with no loss of benefits. This action by the governor cries out for a sense of fairness.
After being in Congress, Abercrombie may consider $18 million as petty cash. To the people of Hawaii it is a mountain of money.
Why is Mitchell Kahle picking on churches that don't get charged for garbage pickup? He doesn't get charged either.
I want Mr. Kahle to know that the churches in my community feed the homeless and give money to families who can't pay their electric bills. How many times has Mr. Kahle done that? I've seen church members picking up rubbish alongside the highways. When did Mr. Kahle make a move to beautify Hawaii? And whether Mr. Kahle believes in God or not, church people pray for the good and well-being of all mankind, yes, even for Mr. Kahle.
There are some things in life that change the course of history without money, power or politics. One of those things is prayer. Mr. Kahle and his group have managed to stop millions of Americans from asking God to bless America. Look at where we are at now.
I would like Mr. Kahle to know that even though he doesn't believe in God, God still believes in him.
Tax exemptions for all organizations under the nonprofit status have many loopholes that need to be tightened or eliminated. Televangelists are a classic example of how people take advantage of the tax-free system by claiming that "God needs money" at the expense of taxpayers and gullible poor people. The overhead of many nonprofit charities includes promoting their beliefs, and these costs are often so high that only a small percentage of their donations reach needy recipients.
Just like any taxpayer, all businesses, organizations, charities and religions should be entitled to a tax writeoff for their charity. However, any public subsidizing of religious proselytizing conflicts with the First Amendment.
The financial risks associated with rail will be discussed this week at the City Council. If our rail tax revenues fall short of projections, or if the total cost increases, there is no funding source to make up the difference.
In the next 18 months, the city's rail project faces three additional challenges.
First, will the city be able to defend itself against soon-to-be filed lawsuits to stop the project? Second, how will the city handle the Federal Transit Authority's demand that we come up with a more robust rail financial plan in order to proceed into the final design stage of funding? Finally, the city must sit down with the FTA and negotiate a full funding agreement. Will the money be there?
Our new City Council should require the city to successfully handle these challenges before allowing the city to start spending on rail construction.
As someone who grew up (and still lives) in Kailua, it seems to me one important historical point has been lost in all the huhu over Target's planned Kailua store. That site, of course, was once the Holiday Mart discount department store. In its heyday, the 1970s, Holiday Mart was the middle-class department store for Windward Oahu. It drew shoppers from Waimanalo and Kaneohe as well as Kailua. People of all income levels shopped at Holiday Mart. Yes, traffic was sometimes congested around Holiday Mart on the weekends, but we managed fine. So in a real sense, Target is simply returning that property to its historical roots. Kailua is, and always should remain, a place where both the affluent and the not-so-affluent can shop and live. Elitists who claim that Target will destroy Kailua's "special character" obviously haven't lived in Kailua very long, and certainly never shopped at Holiday Mart.