Saturday, January 26, 2008


Gov. Lingle threatens public education in Hawaii

by Larry Geller

The latest skirmish in Gov. Linda Lingle's own statewide war on drugs could cost Hawaii's children dearly. She has threatened to withhold pay raises for teachers if the Department of Education does not implement a teacher drug testing provision of the current contract. Should she do that, teachers might resume their strike, setting back education throughout the state.

That provision was stuck into the contract as a non-negotiable demand at the last minute. Lingle has refused to pay for the expensive testing and argues that money should come out of school funds. So what if the children don't have textbooks.

The state Board of Education voted last night not to fund a plan to drug test public school teachers, casting doubts as to whether the program will be able to start by a June 30 deadline required in a new contract.

Board members voted 7-0 to reject a motion calling for some $400,000 to pay for the random and reasonable-suspicion drug tests each year of as many as 3,250 teachers, or one in four employees.

Several board members called the testing "an unfunded mandate" and criticized Gov. Linda Lingle's administration for failing to include money to pay for the testing in her request to the Legislature.

"Let her fund it," said board member Breene Harimoto, who said the program was "offensive."[Star-Bulletin 1/25/08]

Lingle failed to break up the state-wide Board of Education during her first term, and candidates for the BOE that she backed in order to gain control of the Board did not win seats. The refusal to fund the unpopular drug testing provision of the teacher's contract fits into the sequence neatly.

This issue combines her push for enforcement and incarceration over education and treatment in her own war on drugs with an easy assault on the educational system. If teachers should strike, wouldn't she blame the school closure on the teachers or the Board of Education? And would she care how long the strike continues?

It's not likely that she will back down and agree to fund the teacher drug testing program.

President Bush will be gone later this year, but Hawaii's problem continues until 2010.


One has difficulty taking Linda "The Liar" Lingle seriously when for the not so super ferry she'll find every reason [bogus ones, laffable ones, at that] to not enforce the "law" when it is in her friends financial interests to have the law not enforced. but LLL shrieks about following the law when it comes to invading people's privacy for no reason.

She gets stars next to her name in the book of political liars for this performance. Law making is more deadly than teaching I'd say she should ante up and have her staff give piss tests for alcohol consumption within 24 hours of making decisions. then I might take her serious.

It's mystifying why Lingle made this issue a point of contention. The BOE requested funds to develop the program in their budget and the governor didn't include it in the executive budget that was sent to the legislature.


Governors reduce budgets all the time. Why didn't she simply reduce or eliminate a program item or two and leave the drug testing budget request from the BOE as is?

I think it's because she wants to show that the DOE is bloated and fat and they can easily find $500,000 to fund the program.
That is true, in a sense, since all departments have carryover funds, unexpended funds due to delays in hiring, etc. But it is a silly way to make a point.

Clearly, Lingle felt that drug testing was important. The HSTA has no choice in the matter since they signed and ratified the contract.

If Lingle had simply left it in the budget, this confrontation would not have happened.

Go figure.

The comments to the Advertiser's Friday article about the BOE decision are revealing and depressing. By my casual estimation, 9 out of 10 posters are rabidly advocating the "security before freedom" line, without the slightest hesitation.

One important point about privacy invasions like random drug tests is that our right to privacy is predicated on our "reasonable expectation of privacy," and as we erode privacy rights, new generations come of age with a diminished expectation of privacy, which further erodes that right.

It is disturbing how fear has been used so effectively to distract so many people from underlying matters of principle!


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