Friday, October 23, 2009

Furlough Fridays--if it has a fun name, it must be good, right?

I try to stay clear of the politival and rant-y urges that occasionally come upon, at least for this blog. But sometimes I need to share.

I attended school almost wholly on Oahu, except for kindergarten (in N.C.). I also had some wonderful teachers growing up here. [I hope they won't mind me naming names.] In 5th grade, there was Mr. Uyeda. When a position opened up for next year in 4th and 6th grade, he siad he'd take the 6th grade position if he coul have his same students from 5th grade. He got mad once, I forgot what people were doing in line to annoy him, then he said we all had uncommon sense. I smile now. He also ordered shirts with our names on the back, calling us the World's Best Class. I still have mine.

In 8th grade, I had Mrs. Carmody for English. Her class was the first for which I ever finished a story. One was a single-page story where the assignment was to use ten color words (mahogany, cream, azure, etc.). Mine was about an elf hunting a deer. My second story for that class was seven pages (I think it was supposed to be 3-4) about that same elf being hunted by humans. But I did finish it. She was so enthusiastic about my work, and about reading and writing in general.

High school, I had great English teachers, Mrs. Itagaki, Mrs. Tanaka, Mrs. Fujimoto for 11th and 12th grade AP English. I didn't read the same classics as others classes, so no To Kill a Mockingbird or Of Mice and Men, but we read Paradise Lost, Dante's Inferno, King Lear and Walden. I learned the Queen Mab monologue from Romeo and Juliet in Itagaki's class, and Tanaka kepttrying to convince me to join the newspaper or yearbook (I did join the newspaper in college).

My history teachers, like Mrs. Schultz, and AP Psych, Mrs. Tappara, were so involved in their subjects, making sure students had fun and understood the material. Schultz had weekend sessions of studying for the AP US history exam, giving up her Saturdays for us. Dr. Mitchell loved chemistry so much, she made me love it, too, after losing my interest with other teachers. [I had too many to name in college of passionate professors who made you want to learn and love it.]

All of that, and teachers like Lisa-Anne Tsuruda, who received the Milken award just yesterday...yet all of these teachers, and others like them, are forced to stay home today.

This day, Friday October 23, 2009, is the first Furlough Friday. 17 Fridays each year, for a pay cut of about 8%, schools with be closed to teachers and students. It's a drastic measure to help counter-balance the state's budget deficit. A lot of people think it's too drastic. Hawaii, not often in the national news, was on World News Tonight with Charles Gibson yesterday, who reported on the furlough. We now have the shortest school year in the nation.

It doesn't seem fair. And I know the world isn't a fair place. But where does short-changing people on their education help the economy improve? Especially when the governor still implies that lay-offs may be necessary? It's just...~deep breath~Everyone should be so lucky to have teachers like these, and get the most out of the experience. It's harder to do that when they're losing three weeks worth of instruction every year.

*Both links are to articles in the Honolulu Advertiser, as an FYI.

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