Saturday, November 21, 2009


“Raiders of the Rainy Day Fund” won’t stop the legal challenges

by Larry Geller

 Star-Bulletin: Raiders of the Rainy Day Fund

Today’s Star-Bulletin features a very clever movie poster style illustration by Bryant Fukutomi to accompany Richard Borreca’s article, Labor agreements to be redrawn (11/21/2009). Clicking on the image on the Star-Bulletin website gets a larger, almost-readable, gallery view of the poster. Try cntrl-+ to make the pic even larger so you can read the fine print.

While the Governor may be happy with the heroic pose she has been granted, my guess is that Speaker of the House Calvin Say and especially Senate President Colleen Hanabusa will be less than pleased with their images on this poster.

On the other hand, readers may not be happy with the way Hanabusa demonstrates a certain hypocrisy in her statement at the end of the article:

"I hope we as a state are never faced with this kind of economic crisis again. I don't think there is any elected official who hasn't said education is the No. 1 priority. It is time to put our money where our mouth is. This is a policy statement," Hanabusa said.

The economic crisis isn’t over, in fact, many projections indicate that the worst is yet to come as job losses and foreclosures continue or accelerate.

The problem, though, is with “I don't think there is any elected official who hasn't said education is the No. 1 priority.”

Yes, that’s what they say, but then they let the Furlough Fridays cut Hawaii’s school year down to the shortest in the nation. Where exactly were they all before the worldwide attention and local protests developed? (Including the excellent Frank DeLima parody, "Friday come and we gotta stay home." )

Maybe illustrator Bryant Fukutomi has given Hanabusa the correct pose after all.

Meanwhile, both the Star-Bulletin and the Advertiser report that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has moved forward their hearing on the case brought by attorneys Carl Varady and Susan Dorsey that challenges Furlough Fridays as damaging to special needs students. Strangely, the stories differ as to whether the State must file its response by December 10th or December 11th.  (The Advertiser link is to today’s breaking news, so it may not work after a while.)

Only the Advertiser article notes:

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima said although the lost classroom days are likely to cause "irreparable harm" to the special-education students, he believed ordering schools to be reopened would cause more harm than good.

Tashima’s finding that the furlough days are likely to cause “irreparable harm” taken together with the 9th Circuit’s willingness to move the hearing forward may indicate that the appeal has a good chance of success.

Our state government, the Department of Education and the Board of Education were fully aware that many special education IEPs would be “broken” by the unilateral changes brought about by cancelling part of the students’ agreed programs. No doubt, should plaintiffs prevail, it will take taxpayer money to resolve what could be a flurry of individual claims for compensatory education.

There are no heroes in this (aside from plaintiff attorneys) and a good deal of hypocrisy demonstrated by our educational and government leaders, few of whom in fact made the education of special needs children their “No. 1 priority.” At least there is federal law around special education that can be called on.

Our state simply left public education behind until world opinion (and some derision) caught up with them.



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