Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Musings: Red Herrings

Some 1,000 Hawaii classrooms will start the school year without “quality teachers,” including 600 for which there are no teachers at all, according to HPR's "The Conversation."

“Ten thousand kids will not have a teacher,” HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said. “They're using subs that don't have the background. We have pretend schools right now.”

He gave an example of how a substitute who could not speak the language was hired to teach a Spanish class.

The state is having a hard time attracting qualified instructors because Island teachers are the worst paid in the nation, when salaries are adjusted for cost of living, Rosenlee said. Hawaii is also last in the country in spending on school maintenance.

So why do the anti-GMO activists — Center for Food Safety, Councilman Gary Hooser, Hawaii SEED, HAPA, Earthjustice — keep making like seed company pesticides are the biggest threat facing Hawaii school kids?

Especially when none of the school evacuations between 2006-14 were caused by the seed companies, according to an analysis by the state Department of Agriculture.

Among those still touting the false claim of harm is the Waimea Canyon Middle School's Maluhia Group, which left this comment on the Garden Island article on the Kauai election results:

4,000+ people marched in the "Mana March," and an employee of a company suing the County of Kauai for the right to poison your children and land gets more votes than Gary Hooser? Stop posing and make the time you spent marching in the rain mean something by voting in the Primary.

First, that 4,000+ figure is double even the most generous estimate. But even if it was accurate, and every marcher voted for Hooser, it wouldn't be enough to get him re-elected. And how many of those marching were even Kauai residents, much less registered voters?

We know that people like Jen Ruggles — now running for Hawaii County Council — were brought in as paid political operatives to swell the ranks. Even now when I look at who is “liking” Hooser's Facebook posts, I recognize few of the names.

What's more, even though the Merck Fund gave Maluhia-WCMS $10,000 “to document health effects in Hawaii related to pesticide exposure," the group has been unable to find one shred of evidence to bolster its claims. Nor has anyone else. Yet the activists keep making those false charges because they want to destroy the seed companies

Following his dismal showing in Saturday's primary, Hooser finally showed face Monday with a social media plea for more money, more help. If he really wants to win, he should be asking, "Why do so many find me so repellant? How can I change myself, and my message, to appeal to more of the people I'm supposed to be representing?"

But that ain't gonna happen. And no doubt some of his well-heeled North Shore supporters will continue to pour dough into the black hole of Hooser, while ignoring more worthy causes.

I notice that Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice — despite their professed devotion to both the keiki and the aina — have also remained mum on the issue of feral cats. Civil Beat today finally took up an issue oft-covered in this blog, reporting that toxoplasmosis in cat poop is killing endangered monk seals, spinner dolphins and other critters. 

The parasite also infects human, especially kids who play in the dirt, and it can cause both physical and mental illness, including insanity.

Of course, EJ isn't interested because there's no government entity to sue — yet. And CFS knows there's no fundraising dough to be raised in a call to kill kittens.

Still, EJ and CFS do have something in common with the Hawaii Humane Society, which has declared that any cat culling is a total “non-starter” for them.

And that's a complete unwillingness to compromise, to approach an issue with a sincere desire to find the best way forward for all. 

So long as these groups refuse to budge from their extreme, entrenched positions, the polarization and political paralysis will continue. Which is why we might want to reconsider giving them a place at the table.

When Civil Beat reporters are too lazy to dig up news, they fawn over one another, which is how they came to produce the podcast “Hawaii’s News Business Takes It’s [sic] Licks From The Reader Rep.”

In it, CB “reader rep” and UH communications professor Brett Oppegaard revealed his biggest story ever was handed to him, and resulted in someone threatening to punch him in the face. I can see that. Especially after his hit piece on me.

Oppegaard then gushed:

I think Civil Beat is really a beacon of great journalism in this community and I am continually impressed with what is produced here and also the mission seems to be untainted by, obviously, advertising concerns or corporate special interests or any of the other things that tend to plague for-profit publications and journalism organizations.

Uh, except for the social-engineering, philanthropic elephant in the newsroom, as identified by my former editor at the Honolulu Weekly, Ragnar Carlson:

Everyone knows where Joan Conrow is coming from. It's right there in her work. Yet you are willing to denounce her as untrustworthy while the billionaire technocrat who signs your paycheck HAS A DESK IN YOUR NEWSROOM. Dude. What do the kids say?

Which is why the podcast would have been more aptly titled “Civil Beat shill too busy lapping at the Omidyar trough to give his own pub any licks.”


John Kauai said...

The interview with Corey Rosenlee head of HSTA is only 7 minutes long. I know Justin Hughey having met him several years ago at a Democratic Convention. I was impressed with Hughey's dedication to teaching and shocked to be told he had to have a job as a waiter to supplement his teacher salary. A couple of generations ago, teachers used to be respected and looked up to. Now, they are denigrated as leeches on the system because of their salaries.

The effort to start Charter Schools is a scam because it takes money out of the Public School system and redirects it to organizations that are often scams to line the pocket of the school administrator. They make it all sound wonderful, but if you do just a bit of googling on it, you find that there is little research to show if they are successful or not.

In any case, No Child Left Behind struck a blow against all education when it mandated testing. And guess who profits from that: Neil Bush, having been banned from banking because of the Silverado fraud. Charter Schools are faced with having to comply with the tests rather than provide the innovative experiments in education they were suppose to.

Yet, I cannot condemn all Charter Schools. What is a parent to do when it is readily apparent that the Public School System has failed their child. Private school is expensive, how many here can afford the $14,700 for Island School?

Michael Moore's "Where to Invade Next" has a great segment on schools in other countries. Students are not regimented but encouraged to discover what interests them. You can get it from Netflix on DVD.

Quality Education requires money. Check out the Federal Budget and the money wasted on the military-industrial complex. The government is about to embark on a new round of advanced weapons procurement in anticipation of a war with China and/or Russia. The American Empire has spread everywhere but has hardly made us more safe. It surely has made us dumber.

Cisco is laying off 14,000 employees. These are people with collage degrees.

Where are the Jobs going to come from? How can we expect technology jobs to come to Kauai with so many being fired in Silicon Valley?

Taxes have to go up. We have to go to where the money is. Trump's proposal to do away with the "Death Tax" shows how false his positions are. That tax affects less than 1% of Americans and guarantees the continued rise of the oligarchs. Not that Clinton is actually going to do all that much better.

I think we need to be looking for someone to Primary Clinton with in 2020.

Manuahi said...

"You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves."

-Abraham Lincoln

Anonymous said...

I would like to see Kauai's anti's and the pre GMO all take a one year time-out and work together to enhance the rights of women in the Hawaii workplace, end police violence, fix pot-holes, and get that drug treatment center for our kids built.
This debate is like the middle east - it keeps continues sucking everyone's time and resources with no end game in sight.

Who cares if the keiki eat some pesticides if they are smoking meth. We can leave the kids a GMO free planet but at what cost if we leave them a Trumpian got-toting planet where the cops drive tanks and sexual harassment like at Fox news becomes the new/old normal again.

While GMO Pesticide industry battles the constant thorn in its side, the activist commentary is largely stalled from doing any actual good.

Anonymous said...

@11:30 AM, Abraham Lincoln? He was a total racist. 1)"Lincoln believed that Black people living in close proximity to white people would ruin the image of the pure white family that he found ideal. He felt the birth of mixed race children would cause family life to “collapse.” He said, “Our republican system was meant for a homogeneous people. As long as blacks continue to live with the whites they constitute a threat to the national life. Family life may also collapse and the increase of mixed breed bastards may some day challenge the supremacy of the white man.” 2)“And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” (quotes taken from- )

Anonymous said...

Some people won't take the peace stance because all their lives they have be antis. They have to be right there in your face telling you what you are doing is wrong. They cannot and will not stand for peace... better yet standup and take a piss.

John Kauai said...


What an excellent post to place under the heading "Red Herrings".

Lincoln was murdered 150 years ago. That he was (supposedly) a racist didn't stop him from issuing the emancipation proclamation. LBJ was a racist also, but he pushed through the Voting Rights act. If Lincoln were alive today he probably would recant those statements.

Nobody is perfect.

While the quote is very appropriate, it misses the fact that wealth distribution in our country is so extremely unbalanced.
Were Lincoln alive today he'd also say: "When so few own so much the rest of us are superfluous".

On the other hand, if you're looking for a reason to start culling the human race, sure.

If you have a better idea about where to get the money for schools, I'm willing to entertain the thought.

Anonymous said...

A collage degree will only get you a job at McDaniels flipping boogers ;)

John Kauai said...


You are right. I confess to often putting in a "a" rather than an "e".

That's why I won't be running in the 2018 Democratic primary for US senate. But I sure will support someone other than Hirono.

Anonymous said...

Flipping McBoogers- a little like Chelsea Lyons Kent, a rated professional flipper.

Anonymous said...

@ Manuahi,

That doesn't look like a Lincoln quote:

Anonymous said...

Let us forget Lincoln (great man that he is) for a second.

But, let us think about Joan's post this morning please. they way I understood her, was that when socialists get on with dividing, we all suffer! No one is going to stick up for the embarrassment of the State Of Hawaii school system.

And no, I do not expect a school teacher - or freshly graduated adult to seriously entertain teaching as a career in this state. This is where John Kauai has a point. I too know teachers that get off work and bartend all night !! So they do not have to send their own kids to public school?????

That tells you a lot I think. Why is it that this great state ,,, full of democrats,,, has failed so miserably? And you can't blame it on republicans because they are like the Dodo bird--- Extinct!!!!

We got a festering problem, and until we are able to get ruthless about it,,, well we all know the slope we are going down.

Anonymous said...

4:47PM- When 50% of tax money goes for war and weapons. of course there will be that much less money to spend on education. We are talking billions and trillions. That would be a great advantage of Hawaiʻi being an independent nation again- keeping all tax monies here here instead of sending our hard earned dollars off to kill thousands and millions of people around the world each year. Sad state of affairs when a society values war over education.

Anonymous said...

A teachers starting salary puts them in the poverty level. So basically what the DOE is doing is hiring baby sitters.

Anonymous said...

Teachers work 1/2 a year. Have benefits and a fat pension. Not bad.
But the real problem at DOE is that more than half are admin and support and less than half are teachers.
Another big failed Government program where as time goes by everyone is a Chief and only a few Indians.
It is the same in most Departments. Cut the the Cheeses at the top. Put the money to the workers.
Money in Hawaii is spent on taxes, Rent/housing and insurance. Food is expensive, but recreation and clothes are not.
Get rid of JoAnn, Mason and Da Hoos. These three kill any housing for the people.
Roads and housing can be fixed in a couple of years if we had the will. Put it in the hands of the private sector. Private sector can build at 30 percent below ANY gov project.
But all we really have are moocho 100,000 per year government "workers" who are an elite class that control our lives. Then after scalding the public for twenty years they get a pension and medical plan befitting the Royal Families of Monrovia, for the rest of their lives. Try go get some public "service" at the Planning or Water Depts...after ten minutes of stink eye you might get a enigmatic answer.
Take down the Government Unions and we might have a chance. Hold all the workers accountable.
If you want to be controlled by mainland activists, send Gary a check. He is in the pocket of these hi-brow elitists.
And John Kauai...Charter Schools give parents choice. Like how come it cost $17,000 to edumacate a Hawaii kid in the State system that produces some of the lowest test scores in the country. Hawaii pays more for each kid's edjacation than 99 percent of the nation. Big moola for bad skoola. From KHS to KCC or KCCC or better yet, Halawa.
The people on Kauai are good, the system is corrupt.

Anonymous said...

Hey 5:55,

You are changing the subject again. I don't expect you to have a solution 555 . This is importaint enough to stay on topic for a bit???? ---ahh nope it ain't if you are a divider of the Hoo hoo kind just blasting this blog with desperate , pathetic efforts for what?

Anyway, why don't we have a county school system? Our taxes, our kids, sort of stuff. I don't even have kids but I would feel better if my tax monies stayed on Kauai for what seems to me , our islands kids!!! And not some pipe dream of an Oahu railway that we all pay for.

The biggest scam ever pulled in front of the citizens faces since ----we ALL are beholden to this one party. And I will not insult democrats for what we have here..

John Kauai said...


Hawaii: spends $12,458/student. Not the most expensive, not the cheapest. This number does not factor in the cost of living on Hawaii.

The School year runs from Aug 1 to May 30. That leaves 2 month where potentially a teacher does nothing. However, teachers do other stuff during much of that time. Whatever, it is hardly 1/2 a year.

The Hawaii Teacher Pension fund is not well funded (as many pensions are not which is yet another scam perpetrated by the oligarchs after Reagan allowed Pension Funds to be kept on the books as an asset and no longer a liability.) It is hardly a great pension. Still, I don't see why you object to them having on.

If HTSA is decertified, it will not provide better education.

I can't speak to the "too many chiefs complaint. I tend to doubt it though since it is a standard right-wing attack on any government agency.

I oppose charter schools because, like the TVR complaint, it redirects taxes to an organization that may not be able to meet education goals while penalizing students who still go to Public School. I recognize the problem with Public Education.

Anonymous said...

6:03 The 12,000 number doesn't include the bricks, Desks and swingsets. Not even the non-existent AC. Many ways to get a true cost. Some say it could be 20,000 per kid when you add in all of the expert studies, blow-hard political studies and gifted Ipads.

Anonymous said...

To put Property Taxes in perspective, if Kauai property owners paid for the schools, like most counties do, our property taxes would soar....perhaps as much as $5000 or more per Kauai property. If we paid for all all roads add at least another couple thousand.
We are dependent on the State. But don't worry, the State likes the control.

Anonymous said...

Turn over the school system to private schools. For example, the retail rate for Island School is $14,700/student but with nearly 50% of the students getting some form of financial aid, the per student cost is closer to $9,000/student. Student-teacher ratios are lower and test results are higher. Ironically, the public school teachers are paid more and have greater benefits, but get inferior results. Admittedly, private schools are more selective in the students they accept and are not equipped to deal with students with learning disabilities or problem children. On the other hand, they are better at managing resources and don't have the high administrative costs that strangles the DOE. Cut out the bureaucratic layer of fat at the top and get rid of the HTSA union, then the Hawaii public school system might have a chance. Use the savings to pay the teachers more and then ... and only then ... you will be able to attract quality teachers instead of glorified babysitters.

John Kauai said...


Here are two studies showing that $12K/hawaii student is the right number. The second has a bar graph that breaks down where the spending happens. The amounts seem to compare with other states in breakdown percentages.

This report from H-DoE says the cost per pupil is slightly higher.

It also claims Hawaii is:
51st in the nation (last among all states and D.C.) for spending on general administration ($53)

I could not find any numbers that would support the $17K/pupil claims.

Here's a US NEWS and World Report on the High Schools in Hawaii.
Kapaa has a rank of only 18% for college readiness.
The best ranked HS in HI is down at 1600+ and it still didn't prepare students for collage.

I believe the new sub-division going in at Eleele will be a "good thing" but let us be honest. The kind of job someone can get without a collage degree isn't going to pay all that well. If that kind of life is "good enough", don't let me discourage anyone from choosing it. Just recognize the doors it closes.

I would support Kauai establishing its own independent school district. Local taxes could be raised that would stay on-island to support a better school system here. And being local, perhaps people would be more supportive.

I'd like to see Kauai develop a marketing plan that sells Kauai as the "unique island" so that tourists will be charged a premium for coming here. The drop in tourists would make our roads less crowded, while the disposable income of the "higher quality" tourist (ok richer) could result in more income overall for the Island.