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Letters to the Editor

December 2007

Letters to the Editor

More on Pre-K Pressure

I want to thank Hawaii Business magazine for bringing “out of the closet” the private school admissions tutoring phenomenon. I recall when my oldest daughter was attending a local preschool known to be a “feeder to private schools” there were a handful of parents who were whispering to each other about private tutoring services that “taught to the admissions test.” None of the parents spoke about these services out loud, or were willing to admit that they actually picked up the phone and called a tutoring service to inquire. Three years later, when our second daughter started at the same preschool, only a handful of her classmates were NOT in tutoring. Parents were asking me openly if I thought that my daughter was at a disadvantage for admission to the top private schools because I was choosing not to send her to tutoring.

So, I inquired, listened, and learned from these parents and others about this growing phenomenon. I heard about how their children loved it, how they were receiving one on one attention, how it helped their children come out of their shells, how Ñ even after their child is accepted into private school Ñ they would continue to pay the tutoring service because it was such a wonderful enhancement to their child’s education.

Somehow, we still weren’t convinced that our daughter would benefit from this in the long run. So, we took the chance and tested her “at a disadvantage.” Were we gambling with our child’s future? We don’t think so. We were trusting that the decisions we made about her learning from birth to age 5 were enough to prepare her. We trusted that her
preschool was doing their job well and pre-paring her for Kindergarten and not just the test. We trusted our daughter and we crossed our fingers that on the day of the tests, she wouldn’t be tired, feeling sick, or stubbornly unresponsive.

In the end, I think, our children ended up choosing their schools without even realizing it. They did well on the tests at the schools that they felt most comfortable. Maybe they enjoyed the teacher that tested them. Maybe it was some of the kids in the classroom that they knew during the test.

There was only one thing we knew for sure: they didn’t get in because of tutoring.

Shari E. Tasaka
Honolulu, Hawaii
Via email

Thank you for the revealing article “Pre-K Pressure.” It highlights the extraordinary efforts parents are making to prepare their children for the entrance evaluations for kindergarten at Hawaii’s elite private schools. What alarms me about this situation is that it suggests that very young children who are not able to get professional tutoring are not going to succeed in today’s competitive society.

Approximately 17,000 children start school each year in Hawaii and recent data indicates that 40 percent are not ready to learn and are up to two years behind their peers. Not all can attend pre-school. Does this mean we must accept that some children will start their education so far behind that they will never catch up? Absolutely not!

All parents should know that they and their ohana can effectively prepare their children for school, and they can do this in a way that matches their child’s readiness to learn.

Let’s assure that all young children in Hawaii have quality experiences before they enter school. That would make a huge difference in their success in school and beyond. That’s why we at Aloha United Way, along with our community partners, are working to ensure that our keiki are safe, healthy, loved and ready to learn by kindergarten.

Information about how everyday moments can be turned into learning experiences can be found at www.bornlearning.org or call Aloha United Way at 2-1-1 and we’ll send you the information.

Susan Au Doyle
President and CPO
Aloha United Way
Via email

GM Papaya Saved the Industry


Your September 2007 issue of “Spinzone” by Dr. Hector Valenzuela deserves some clarification. When he states there are no benefits to consumers, he evidently overlooked GM papaya. Without GM papaya’s resistance to the Papaya Ring Spot Virus spread by aphids, Hawaii consumers would not have a papaya industry and would be buying all of our papaya from elsewhere.

He utilizes the standard unnamed anti-GMO fear about potential health and environmental risks but fails to assure us of the safety of organic crops where recent E. coli contamination on organic spinach killed three people and hospitalized may others. Maybe we should be asking ourselves, if organic crops are really safer than GM crops?

It is misleading to imply that the $15 billion dollars in federal and state subsidies are mostly for GM crops. There are many, many non-GM crops in these programs, so let’s see some numbers.

It is true, as mentioned, the Hawaiian papaya industry has been in decline, but not from the introduction and rejection of GM papaya. In 1998, and in the years after, Papaya Ring Spot Virus (PRSV) disease killed papaya trees and growers removed infected trees as well. This, in effect, reduced papaya acreage. With less product to sell, it’s logical there would be reduced participation in the marketplace.

These developments had nothing to do with GM papaya, as the anti-GM groups continue to suggest. GM and conventional papaya are now being grown side by side on the Big Island, demonstrating that growers are able to coexist and meet the market demands.

Don Gerbig
Lahaina, Hawaii
Via email

 
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