Category Archives: special comment

Special Comment: Is it Contempt or Ignorance with Eric Cantor?

Earlier this month, GOP Congressman Eric Cantor introduced a strategy to help reduce government spending.  His solution: force college students who are receiving loans to repay them while they are still attending college rather than upon the completion of their time in school.

It seems like a pretty far out way of thinking.  Mr. Cantor would like to financially handcuff students who are already financially handcuffed trying to afford an education.  Either Mr. Cantor dislikes college students or he just doesn’t know any better.  I personally think Mr. Cantor is a decent human being.  That said, he likely doesn’t know any better.  The only other explanation is he doesn’t care about those struggling financially.

Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia's 7th Congressional District

Let’s take a closer look at what Mr. Cantor has presented us.  Some college students, like myself, require financial assistance to go to school.  If it were not for grants, scholarships, and loans, there would be a large section of young adults out of school.  Using the University of Hawaii at Manoa as an example, we see that resident full-time tuition (12 credits or more) is roughly $4,500 for the Fall 2011 Semester.  Out of state tuition comes in at about $12,000.  Considering that UHM is considered a bargain for tuition, we still have college students paying at least $9k and up to $24k for a single school year.  Take that number and expand that over five years (the typical amount of time to earn a Bachelor’s Degree), assuming tuition doesn’t increase, and we have total cost between $45-$120k.  Anyone have that type of money lying around?

Are we expecting the parents of those students to pay for college?  Continuing to use Hawaii as an example, the median household income from 2009 was $67k.  That would mean the average family in Hawaii would need to spend roughly 67% of their income for an entire year just to pay for tuition for a single child.  What if that family has multiple children?  Let’s also not forget mortgage/rent, food, healthcare, transportation, and other costs associated with raising a family.

This is why the federal government offers financial assistance for college students.  A healthy society needs educated citizens.  Every past civilization has shown the need for an educated population.  Mr. Cantor would seemingly like to end this goal.

If college students could afford to begin paying back their loans while still in school Mr. Cantor, there is a great chance these students wouldn’t be using loans or other financial aid in the first place.  Common sense tells us that someone using these types of services is in need of them in the first place.

For all the talk about protecting our future, it is obvious that Mr. Cantor has not followed through on that campaign promise.  His plan in no way helps protect our future.  In fact, it puts our future at risk.  This is not wise leadership Mr. Cantor.

Perhaps you are the one who needs to be in school.

*This post can also be found on The Young Writer’s Block.

Special Comment: Dissecting How I Feel Over bin Laden’s Death

I’ve searched around for the answer as to how I should feel about the news of Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of a US Navy SEALS strike team.  Before I get into how I feel on the topic, I think it is only fair that I explain where I come from on this.

I had the unforgettable honor of participating in the 2001 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade along with the Pearl City High School Marching Band from Pearl City, Hawaii.  It was only two months removed from the tragic events of 9/11 and by sheer coincidence, our trip was scheduled to visit Washington D.C. before making the final stop to New York City.  I grew up next to a military installation and spent much time around active duty personnel as well as their families, this gave me a better understanding of how special it is to be an American.  I viewed the trip as a way to show our respect to those who fight for our freedom as well as those who lost their lives on the tragic day.  It was also a chance to bring the Aloha Spirit to those in the affected areas and perhaps to the rest of the country via the televised event.  We were allowed to see the scene at the Pentagon and were allowed within a few blocks from ground zero in NYC.  The scene is not something you can unsee or unsmell.  The ruins and the hard-working volunteers were a sight to behold.

It is with this experience that I learned of the death of Osama bin Laden while browsing the internet.  A window was open to my Facebook and I noticed that someone had posted a comment saying the Al-Qaeda leader was dead.  I was a bit confused by the news and immediately began checking a multitude of news sites.  Every site had a basic heading of the Osama’s death but offered no details.  It wasn’t until President Obama stepped to the podium in his address to the nation did we begin to hear what had happened.

A bird's-eye view of bin Laden's compound. (PHOTO: ABCNEWS)

The initial reaction was a combination of shock and satisfaction.  The man who had been on the run from the entire United States Military as well as many international forces had finally been found.  Not only had he been found, but he had been shot and killed by American forces.  This was a man who captured the attention of the entire world with his fanaticism, and whose main focus was to bleed the United States economy dry, had finally met his end.  Anyone who heard the news had to have been shocked.  The joke was that he had been the Hide and Go Seek World Champion for the last decade.  Now he was dead after being shot twice by a US SEAL team.

As an American, there had to be a sense of satisfaction that this man was no longer a priority.  As an American, there had to be a sense of satisfaction over finally catching the man who left a wake of devastation on a September morning in 2001.  I do not deny, nor do I attempt to hide the fact that I was for a moment satisfied at the news.  The satisfaction then turned into relief.  Osama had been on the radar of American intelligence since the early 90’s and was always a step ahead of his pursuers.  Now the long chase was over and our sights could be set on a different purpose.

There was a sense of relief for the armed forces and intelligence personnel who have searched around the world for Osama.  Aside from that though, there was a bit of apathy.  There is the understanding that although Osama was the top figure in Al-Qaeda, he is just another cog in the overall scheme of things.  The organization will continue on with their mission and will likely use the death of Osama as the rallying cry.  The fight against terrorism will continue and will likely remain unchanged.

At the end of the day, as an American, there is a sense of bravado.  There is a feeling of wanting to puff out one’s chest and to walk taller.  The actions of some heroic Americans have injected a bit of patriotism.  I am glad that it was AMERICAN forces who took down bin Laden and it was a decision made by our President.  It was not an incidental casualty of the war zone.  It was a calculated move made by our leadership.

For that, we all can be proud of.

2010 in review

Here is a review of 2010 for this site.  First of all, thank you to everyone who made 2010 such an amazing experience.  I started this blog back in March of 2010 in order to push people to get involved with government and politics.  All the comments, emails, and messages really push this site forward.  Once again, thank from the bottom of my heart!

-Ryan Adverderada

Founder, Desperate America Report

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 8,900 times in 2010. That’s about 21 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 131 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 26 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was November 2nd with 194 views. The most popular post that day was Two Constitutional Amendments on the Ballot for Hawaii.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were digg.com, en.wordpress.com, twitter.com, facebook.com, and healthfitnesstherapy.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for slovenia, desperate america, honolulu hale, adeja johnson, and dan inouye.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Two Constitutional Amendments on the Ballot for Hawaii October 2010

2

Honolulu City Council District 1 Candidate Websites November 2010
2 comments

3

Special Comment: Hawaii’s Public School System is Flunking! April 2010
1 comment

4

Hawaii Office of Elections Releases Complete List of Candidates July 2010

5

Who will be Hawaii’s next Governor? July 2010

A simple “Thank You” on Veteran’s Day

We are the land of the free because of the brave.  We hear it all the time, a simple twist of the final line of our national anthem.  However, just a week removed from another election season, we are truly thankful to have been given the opportunity to vote.  All too often we take for granted our freedoms.  We take for granted the ability to vote.  In fact, there are many in this country who choose not to vote and think it is not their problem.  Have we forgotten the sacrifices of previous generations?  Have we grown to be too comfortable with life?  Have we become so blinded by our excess and material bliss that we have forgotten how lucky we are as Americans?

Veteran’s Day allows every American the opportunity to find and thank a past or present service member for their service towards this country and ourselves.  It is a day in which we take the time to remember our fallen heroes and those men and women who put themselves in the line of fire every single day.  Today we show our appreciation to our military brothers and sisters.  I challenge everyone reading this today to remember the sacrifices of our military brothers and sisters and thank them for the opportunity to attend school, to go shopping at a mall, to attend a football game and other every day tasks in peace.  In an ever-changing world, these brave men and women have done their best to keep us safe and have asked for nothing in return.  While we may see imperfections in our country, we can all be thankful to our heroes who have allowed us to point these imperfections out and to work together keep this country great.

Our thanks and praise will never be a suitable show of affection and appreciation to our military heroes.  However, let us all take the first step and just say thank you!

Open Letter to Congressional Democrats

Dear United States Congressional Democrats,

I write this letter today to convey the pure disappointment and embarrassment I now bear after the cowardice displayed by the actions of your party.  You had the opportunity to vote to extend tax cuts for 98% of Americans.  It was supposed to be a vote.  But instead, you chose to play things safe and wait until after the November election.  Need I remind you that the opposing party has stated they have no interest in helping the middle class?  The Republicans have stood in opposition to just about every turn and every chance to help struggling Americans.  A vote to extend the tax cuts would have drawn the proverbial line in the sand and provided an opportunity for voters to see which party has their best interests in mind.  This failure by Democrats, is just another in a long line of backing away from a challenge.  It started with the stimulus and bailout packages where regulations and restrictions were not made strong enough.  It then went to Health Care Reform and the lack of a public option and other meaningful reform.  You then failed to provide any substance to the Financial Reform and caved to special interest.  The financial industry imploded due to its own misconduct and you did little to deter them in the future.

Americans need to vote intelligently to ensure we have leaders who care about their constituents and not special interest money.

Now comes perhaps the last straw.  The extension of tax cuts for 98% of Americans seems like a no-brainer.  However, somehow you managed to mangle this chance and not find the courage or fortitude to pursue a vote on the matter.  I’m not talking about passing the bill, I’m talking about voting on the bill.  If the bill failed during a vote, then at least you would have the chance to tell the public you pushed for their interests but was defeated.  Wouldn’t that be some great campaign ammo?  But no, you instead chose to sit on your hands and crawl back home.  How dare you back away from a fight.  It is obvious the GOP has no interest in helping me out.  I thought you cared.  Obviously I was wrong.

I will still hope you win in November.  The alternative is just to grim.  However, I hope you will wake up and realize the mistakes you have made.  I hope you will look in the mirror and rededicate yourself to helping Americans more than helping yourself.

Sincerely,

The American People

Click here to visit Grassroots Internet Strategy.

Special Comment: Gov. Lingle vetoes HB444

Just about everyone knows the feeling.  Just about everyone has experienced that swift kick or punch to the gut that left you hurting and wanting to find a spot to recover.  Well that blow came in the form of Hawaii Governor, Linda Lingle and her decision to veto HB444, better known as the civil-unions bill.  Gov. Lingle chose to put HB444 on the potential veto list back in June.  The list allows the Hawaii legislature time to gather the votes needed for a potential override session.  By putting a bill on the potential veto list, Gov. Lingle afforded herself more time to hear testimony and zero in on a decision.  The decision was needed on July 7.  If Gov. Lingle chooses to neither sign or veto a bill, that bill will become law without her signature.

Gov. Lingle explained her decision to veto HB444 by stating it had nothing to do with her personal opinion or religious belief.  It was one of the final acts of the two-term governor of Hawaii as she officially left her position at the end of the day.  Gov. Lingle had previously stated her support for a civil-unions bill that would extend benefits afforded married couples to those entered into a civil-union.  Perhaps the realization that any possible future career would hinge on her decision on the bill, ultimately led to her choice.  Further trying to salvage her image, Lingle stated her desire to see the measure put on the ballot for the voters to decide.  This is one of the most frustrating paradoxes of a democracy.  Gov. Lingle is willing to put equal rights of a minority, up to the voting majority.  The outcome is usually predictable.  Why would the majority choose to bring the minority into the fold?

Gov. Linda Lingle ended her two-term career as Hawaii's executive official with a highly publicized veto of HB444.

The main argument against HB444 is primarily a religious one.  The common barb is that God created the institution of marriage to bond a man and woman together.  The argument is that civil-unions would pose a threat to traditional marriage and would result in the decay of society and of marriage.  A news flash to these detractors, the current divorce rate in America hovers around 50%!  Did you read that!  Marriage is already being threatened.  The sanctimony of this religious institution is being harmed by the very people claiming to defend it!  Two women kissing does not damage my relationship any more than a coughing person affects the tides of the ocean.  See a relation with that example?  Of course not.  Civil-unions have no bearing on traditional marriage.  This type of conspiracy thinking really is the result of a lack of understanding of our neighbors and a rush to judgment.  I must have missed the memo which confirmed that all homosexuals were atheists and wished to destroy family values.  Is it possible to be added to THAT mailing list?

As a final blow to the equal rights lobby, Gov. Lingle attempted to take the moral high ground in saying that “It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials.”  How interesting of a statement.  It is interesting that someone would claim that an issue is too important for an individual official to decide, yet proceed to make the decision individually.  It is comparable to a parent explaining to a child the problems with stealing, while at the same moment forging checks.  Is Gov. Lingle really that dense?  Does she really think that her decision is preventing a single group or elected official rule on such an important issue?  No.  She is obviously a very intelligent person.  The only other option is that she is a complete hypocrite.  There is no other explanation.  If she had really wanted the voting public to vote on the issue, she should have stated so when the bill was initially introduced and not stalled until her final day in office.  If she really supported civil-unions, she should have allowed the bill to pass without her signature and announced her desire to see the issue put on the ballot for the voters to decide.

Gov. Linda Lingle ended her time as Hawaii’s governor with a legacy of killing the hopes of all equal-rights supporters and the potential to help a struggling local economy.  Our elected officials were chosen to make the tough decisions that would benefit the entire state and not just a privileged majority.  Instead, Lingle chose to shirk on her responsibilities and pass the buck along to her successor.  The November election will drastically affect any chance the bill will have at becoming law next session.  The movement came up close this year.  One can only pray that next year will be the time when the glass is shattered and the break through finally arrives.  Until then, we can thank Gov. Linda Lingle for that lovely punch to the gut!

Special Comment: Sen. Robert Byrd

Robert Carlyle Byrd was born on November 20, 1917.  Byrd served as a US Senator from the state of West Virginia since 1959.  Byrd holds the record for the longest-serving senator and the longest-serving in Congress.  Sen. Byrd passed away on Monday, June 28, 2010.  He had been in the hospital over the weekend and was reportedly in serious condition.  The West Virginia senator recently served as President pro tempore of the United States Senate beginning in 2007.  The position put him third in the line of succession for President behind the Vice President and Speaker of the House.

Sen. Robert Byrd was a strong advocate for campaign finance reform and opposed the Iraq War/WSJ.com

Sen. Byrd started his career as a staunch conservative and was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940’s.  Byrd would later renounce his participation in the Klan as youthful indiscretion.  However, his intentions would come under fire during his first term as he led a filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  Byrd’s early career is in stark contrast from the man who became a close friend of Sen. Ted Kennedy from Massachusetts.  Sen. Kennedy has long been known as one of the fiercest liberals to have roamed the halls of the Congress.  Byrd served in the US House of Representatives beginning in 1953 through 1959 when Byrd was elected into the US Senate.  Sen. Byrd had been elected to an unheard of nine consecutive terms with his reelection in 2006.  Sen. Byrd has served in Congress longer than a handful of his colleagues have been alive.

The voting history of Sen. Byrd has taken many interesting turns.  He has the record for the most votes cast with more than 18,000 votes.  The West Virginia man is best known for his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and his strong opposition to the Iraq War.  Byrd’s political views can best be described as ever evolving.  What began as a strong conservative, seemed to move towards the left and become a much more moderate.  Sen. Byrd had long been known for his fiscal conservatism and his push for campaign finance reform.  Byrd would constantly use his time on the Senate floor to implore his colleagues to adopt tougher campaign finance regulations and create an even playing field for all political candidates. Byrd is also known as the “King of Pork.”  It is a title given to him by the group, Citizens against Government Waste.  Byrd kept large amounts of money flowing into his home state for public works projects.  Sen. Byrd held the chair position on the Senate Appropriations Committee beginning in 1989.  It had been suggested the Sen. Byrd sent over $1 for public works into this state.

In 1969 Sen. Byrd launched a Scholastic Recognition Award and began awarding savings bonds to valedictorian from public and private high schools in West Virginia.  In 1985, Congress approved the creation of a merit-based scholarship program that would be funded by the US Department of Education.  The program would later be named in Byrd’s honor and began awarding one-year scholarships to students with outstanding academic achievements.  The Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program would later award four-year scholarships beginning in 1993.  Sen. Byrd also started the TAH Grants which would strengthen K-12 public schools by awarding grants ranging from $500,000 to $1 million.

Sen. Robert Byrd may not have been the perfect politicians, nor could he be considered the perfect American.  However, Sen. Byrd can not be questioned in terms of doing what he felt was the right thing to do.  Sen. Byrd served this nation for more than half of his life and has left a mark on American politics and society.  Robert Byrd’s passing is just another blow for the old school mentality of politics where our leaders were accountable for their actions and focused on policies instead of politics.  Sen. Byrd’s passion and drive to help America will be missed.  Desperate America offers condolences to the Byrd family and hopes others will honor the senior senator from West Virginia.

Get Involved: Complacency is the breeding grounds for Incompetence!

*the Monday’s Best series will return next week with a look at another great organization*

Special Comment: Who Will Step Up For Hawaii?

There is currently a void in Hawaii politics.  There is a gap between politicians, the unions, and the voters of Hawaii.  Politics in Hawaii has become a network of friends and business partners that tend to keep away the outsiders and the underdogs.  Unions have become a large political force in the islands and many times use politicians to gain even more power.  Where are the voters of Hawaii come out in all of this?  The answer is pretty simple.  The voters of Hawaii are left holding the tab of out of control unions and politicians.  The voters of Hawaii are left searching for a better alternative but being denied by the powers in place of a viable alternatives.  Who will help the people of Hawaii?  Where will this help come from?  What needs to be done by everyday citizens?  Let’s try to take a crack at those questions here today.

The first question that needs to be addressed is the matter of finding WHO will help Hawaii’s citizens.  Are we searching for a group or a single person?  Will the Tea Party of Hawaii step in and make a difference?  Will the Hawaii Coffee Party get off the sidelines and step up?  The Tea Party has already held a few protests at the state capitol and have already garnered the support of some elected officials, most notably, Rep. Kymberly Pine.  The Hawaii Tea Party has also began to pressure candidates to answer questions.  Perhaps the Tea Party will continue to make strides forward and will one day become a major player in Hawaii politics.

Will the Hawaii Coffee Party step up and be a difference maker?  The national Coffee Party USA is still only a few months old but steadily gaining steam with campaigns aimed at getting to the voters and collecting their ideas and opinions on various topics.  The Coffee Party USA has a convention set for September and has already made splashes with some politicians in our nation’s capitol.  However, the local Hawaii chapter is conspicuously absent from the fold.  Having canceled a meeting with US Rep. Mazie Hirono, the Hawaii Coffee Party has not voiced any intentions to take part in one of the many Coffee Party USA events.  Perhaps the lack of organization is a result in the group being new in the state and still searching for its leaders.  However poised to make a difference, the Hawaii Coffee Party does not seem ready or willing to really help Hawaii’s citizens at this time.

Where will the great hope come from?  Perhaps the answer lies only in our own yards.  Perhaps the key to all of this is the citizens of Hawaii.  It seems odd that nearly every poll addressing the effectiveness of Hawaii’s government leaders show low support yet those same leaders continually get reelected.  Where is the change?  It seems an obvious place to start is with the actual electorate.  Hawaii voters tend to vote with their gut rather than their heads.  What is needed is honest debate about the policies and politics of Hawaii.  Voters need to research candidates and ask questions of the people running for office.  The notion of voting for a particular candidate because he or she is a nice person is horribly ignorant.  That type of thinking led to the current state of affairs for both the country and the state.  People need to vote on merit.  Forget about religion, ethnicity, status and where the person is from.  Instead, focus on the candidates politics.  Focus on which candidate posses similar views on important issues.

The final question seems to have already been answered.  The key to fixing Hawaii is in the hands of every citizen of this great state.  Nothing will change unless citizens band together and take part in the political process.  It starts with informed voters and moves to electing capable individuals.  It then continues with voters staying involved in the community and letting elected officials know of any problems or concerns within the community.  The final step is really the first step.  Citizens need to keep each other and the government accountable for their actions.  If a politician is unable to help his district, the politician needs to explain the matter and the voters need to decide if someone else is needed.

The dream of a new Hawaii is not difficult to achieve.  However, it will require every citizen to do their part and make small sacrifices.  Instead of watching American Idol, how about going to a neighborhood board meeting?  A simple act like that will lead to others getting involved.  The future of Hawaii can be a bright one.  It is up to all of us to do our part and move Hawaii forward.  The waiting is over, now is the time to act.

Get Involved: Complacency is the breeding grounds for Incompetence!

Special Comment: Ode to Hawaii’s Newspaper

Growing up in Hawaii, I was afforded a few luxuries that others around the country weren’t so lucky to have.  I was able to play baseball or head to the beach in the winter and not worry about frigid temperatures.  I grew up thinking cold weather meant high-60’s in Wahiawa.  I was afforded one more important luxury, every Sunday I could walk a couple of blocks and buy the Sunday edition of the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.  There was a time in this great country where one could not walk down to a busy street corner and fail to see a young boy hollering about the newest edition of the local paper.  Those were the golden days of newspapers when people could count on solid reporting on important events of the day.  Imagine a vintage Ford truck slowly creeping along a busy street.  Now imagine a young boy holding two copies of the same paper but with differing headlines and waiting for the verdict of a juicy trial.  Talk about instant analysis of the news!

I was not alive during the boom of newspapers during the 40’s and 50’s.  However, nearly every movie from that time frame will feature a scene of a small child standing on a busy street corner shouting the headlines of the paper he is trying to sell.  I love those movies!  These days we are left with scenes of people sitting in front of a computer reading the scrolling footnote about the recent happening with Justin Bieber.  For all the Bieber fans that are reading this(I doubt there are even two right now), no offense, but I would prefer to open the front page of a newspaper and read about Hawaii’s battle against gnats then read about some teen idol failing in door opening 101.  Call me old-fashioned, but I love to sit at the kitchen table while sipping the coffee I don’t drink, and reading the Monday edition of the Honolulu Advertiser or Star-Bulletin.  There is something calming about opening up the paper and gathering information from the printed word.  I have not been able to reproduce this effect while reading a CNN news story while being inundated with advertisements for Salonpas.

The Star-Advertiser resulted from the merger of the Honolulu Advertiser and Star-Bulletin. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

Perhaps I am getting way ahead of myself and exaggerating the effects of this loss.  Maybe I will enjoy reading the Star-Advertiser and fail to notice a difference.  I doubt that will be the case.  Losing those two independent voices is like watching my San Francisco 49ers lose to the Dallas Cowboys.  The sadness will pass, but the pain will always be there.  So it was with a heavy heart that I made my way to the news stand and picked up the final copy of both the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin.  Monday, June 7th, 2010 marks a new era in the way news is covered in Hawaii.  The date also marks a new era in print media for our tiny, yet tight-knit community.  The unveiling of the Star-Advertiser marked the end of the Honolulu Advertiser and Star-Bulletin.  The new publication marked the end of differing opinions and differing voices that have been read and heard by all of us over the years.

Thank you to all current and former employees of both newspapers.  Your hard work and dedication inspired me to become a writer and be involved in my community.  I am sure that others share the same fondness with both papers.  To the staff of the new Star-Advertiser, good luck in your quest to deliver quality reporting and commentary for all readers.  It is my hope that you will continue with the legacy of the men and women before you and serve Hawaii well.

Goodbye to the glory days of the newspaper.  You will be missed.

Contact Ryan: Twitter, Facebook, Email

Special Comment: Hawaii’s Public School System is Flunking!

The current state of the Hawaii Public School System is not one to be proud of.  Hawaii has the fewest instructional days during the school year of any state in the U.S.  The furlough situation has reduced the amount of days even more.  Test scores have risen yet the overall performance of the students in the system has not seen significant increases.  Hawaii is unlike any other state in America.  We are a state with a relatively small land mass, yet we are spread out along a chain of islands.  Because of this problem, lawmakers chose to have a central governing board for the public school system.  Hawaii is composed of one school district with nearly 300 schools.  With over 170,000 students, Hawaii is in the top-15 largest school districts in the country.  The current problem facing the Department of Education is that they must oversee almost 300 schools scattered on seven islands.  To be completely honest, the Department of Education does not actually set the guidelines for the public schools.  The Board of Education sets the guidelines and policies.  How can a fourteen member board possibly be expected to provide for all of the near 300 schools?

Hawaii features a public school district of nearly 300 schools across seven islands.

The thought of a centralized school system was implemented to prevent the problem of poorer areas being unable to have the same funding that was afforded a more affluent area.  This problem can be seen throughout the rest of the country.  Many times a school will be in a wealthier part of town and will have better test scores and more money at its disposal.  Another school on the poorer part of town will have students that are more concerned about having a place to stay the night than about a final exam.  The poor test scores mean less money going to the school.  It can be a system that keeps the wealthy at the top and the poor at the bottom.  A centralized governing body is meant to distribute money more equally and would allow for schools to compete on a level playing field.  Under a centralized body, schools would receive an equal amount of money even if they are in a poor or wealthy neighborhood.

The centralized system also has its drawbacks.  The main one being that many schools lack the ability to really set their schools budgets and goals.  They must instead adhere to the standards and policies set by the governing body.  Imagine being given $30 and being told to prepare a healthy meal.  However, the person providing the money stipulates that the shopping can only be done at a specific store.  That store does not feature an affordable variety of healthy options.  In order to make the money last, our meal has gone from grilled salmon and freshly steamed veggies to meatloaf.  This is what the schools are left with.  They are expected to come up with creative solutions to increase performance, but are not allowed the autonomy of being able to try new things.  We are asking our schools to be creative but placing restrictions on what they can do.  It makes little sense.

The Furlough Friday fiasco has made the school year even shorter for our keiki.

What do we need to make sure our public school system succeeds?  First of all, we need to streamline the way we run schools.  There is a lack of accountability with the current system.  There are too many people with their hands in the pot and not many want to step up and take responsibility.  What we really need is an open debate about the possibility of a more decentralized approach to our public schools.  Rep. Abercrombie recently unveiled his plans for a system that puts the school principals in the role of the school CEO.  The school would have the autonomy to create programs that are aimed at meeting the standards set forth by the Department of Education.  The elimination of the BoE would cut out the excess restrictions on schools.  The governor and the DoE would work side by side in mapping out an outline of what they expect from the public school system.  Each school would have the opportunity to compete for funding and would be expected to submit proposals for what they hope to do for the students.  If a school is failing to meet a certain standard, the DoE would work with the school to address any concerns or situations associated with the problem.  A more decentralized system would also help increase community participation.  People are always more willing to help out if the system is geared more towards the wants and needs of those involved.  One sure-fire way to fix the current problems with the school system is more involvement from the community.

How ever we decide to fix the problems facing our public school system, it is clear that something needs to be done.  The current system is not working and is failing our students.  A prosperous society needs an educated youth.  The future of Hawaii and the country depend on our ability to enact positive change in the public school system.  If we really care about our children, we need to get together and help.

Get Informed and Get Involved!