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[Susan notes: I don't pretend to know anything about the Hawaii situation, but I do know that the New York Times editorialist took his usual snotty, superior tone regarding public schools and the people who work in them.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Re Hawaii's Race to the Bottom” (editorial, May 23):

Last year, facing an unprecedented $470 million education cut, Hawaii's school board urged lawmakers and the governor to tap special funds, warning that schools were at a breaking point long before the islands’ tourism-driven economy hit bottom with the recession.

When education was not prioritized, the school board eliminated programs and hundreds of positions, and closed schools. That wasn't enough to plug the financial hole, though it avoided teacher layoffs or increased class size, while reducing to 17 the 30 school furlough days that Gov. Linda Lingle originally recommended.

Failure to prioritize education has hurt students nationwide as districts are forced to fire teachers and carry out four-day weeks and furloughs.

Contrary to the editorial, Hawaii teachers did sacrifice, as furloughs amounted to a significant pay cut in a state with one of the nation's highest living costs. In an agreement with the school board that avoids furloughs next year, teachers also gave up planning time to restore instructional days.

The writer is Chairman, Hawaii State Board of Education.

Garrett Toguchi

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