Bathers deserve equal protection
The whale season is upon us, and jet-skiers and parasailors are banned from our sanctuary waters to protect our humpback whales from being run over by these commercial boat operators.
Na Kupuna O Maui is pleased that our elected officials take these precautionary measures each year in our nearshore waters.
Na Kupuna O Maui would be equally pleased if our elected officials would take the same actions on behalf of our children in the waters of Hanakao'o (Canoe Beach).
Unfortunately, conflicts in the past between motorized vessels and swimmers have been fatal. We must not forget Uncle Billy.
Na Kupuna O Maui demands that the children of our island be given the same respect as the whales.
PATRICIA NISHIYAMA, Lahaina
Too busy to care
In the past two to three weeks, I've noticed inexcusable behavior among the realtors and apartment managers of Maui. It's a small disease, but one that modern medicine has not found a cure for. This illness is called arrogance.
The first stage is impoliteness. When we, businesses from the Mainland, make long-distance calls to inquire about possible housing for our employees, we leave messages that contain phone numbers. We do this because we expect a return call from the realtor.
The second stage is the incubation period. This is when the manager or realtor refuses to return a call in the normal 24-hour time frame.
The third stage is the arrogance phase. This is when we, the company in search of employee housing, call the realtor or manager numerous times until a human voice answers the phone. When we state the nature of our call, the reply is the same: "Oh, you're the one that called earlier this week. We're full." Click... silence.
What happened to common courtesy and good business practices? Is Maui such the hot spot that owners of cottages, rooms to rent, managers and realtors don't have the time to say, "Sorry, we haven't anything at the moment but try again in a week, month, etc. Thank you for your interest."
Having traveled here, and at present living here for a few months, the housing situation is even worse than before. Currently, I'm being uprooted to a new place because of my job and the shortage of living space.
Just being on the island and making inquires for housing doesn't change the rudeness I've encountered. The attitude seems to be, "We're so busy that we don't care if we get your business or not."
In a few days, the beach just may be my new home. For all the beauty and adventure that Maui has to offer, a little bit of the so-called "aloha spirit" would be nice to experience.
L. JOHNSON, Maui
Give teachers some credit
It's been over a month since Team USA 4th Grade did their coaches, American public school teachers, proud by coming in fourth in the world's reading rankings. Yet there's been very little celebrating in this country of ours so famous for making the most out of success in international competition. An Olympic Bronze in synchronized swimming would have garnered more praise.
According to the 2011 PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study), the only countries with better fourth grade reading levels are Russia, Finland and Singapore. This is a remarkable success for U.S. public education, especially when you take into account that we have 48 million public school students, of which at least 10 percent are English Language Learners. That's about five million students - almost equivalent to the total population of Finland.
In addition, U.S. schools and teachers have to deal with disproportionate levels of poverty. Research has proven unequivocally that poverty is the most important determining factor in educational outcomes.
Fourth may not be a medal spot, but it's surely some good news about the educational achievements of our "failing" public schools. This warrants at least a pat on the back of our oft-maligned teachers.
Of course, the value of these international comparisons based upon standardized tests is questionable. However, when U.S. students perform poorly on such comparisons, we never hear the end of it. It is vital for us to recognize the successes, as well as the failures, of our schools.
Too many people are being misled by biased reports about the condition of our educational system. In turn, this is leading to bad decisions and the misuse of public funds to "fix things that ain't broke."
Of course, we should always be striving to improve our schools, but we must also recognize what does work and give credit where credit's due.
A pledge for the next president
If a candidate for the next presidential election, whether Democrat or Republican, has the courage to take the following pledge, I am certain he or she would be elected in a landslide, and this country could once again become the "United" States of America.
The "20/4 Pledge" is: "I hereby pledge that within my first four years as president, I will reduce the size of the federal government by 20 percent, reduce the national debt by 20 percent, reduce homicides by 20 percent and raise the employment rate by 20 percent. If this pledge is not fulfilled by the end of my first term, I will not be a candidate for a second term."
We know these goals are obtainable, but only by a person willing to risk his political future to reach them.
JOHN P. HANSEL, Via E-mail
Open house a great success
A big mahalo to all the families who came to the Sacred Hearts School open house events last week. We so enjoyed meeting all of the up-and-coming kindergartners during our daytime tours and loved meeting the older kids at the evening open house.
If you were impressed by what you saw but unsure if you can afford tuition, please join us for Financial Aid Night on Wednesday, Feb. 20, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria.
Our principal, school secretary and PTG members will be on-hand to walk you through the paperwork and discuss the many different types of scholarships available. Again, thank you for previewing our school.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, Principal, Sacred Hearts School