Pubdate: Tue, 15 May 2007
Source: Garden Island (Lihue, HI)
Copyright: 2007 Kauai Publishing Co.
Author: Terese Barich


There are over 13,000 teachers in Hawai'i. Four were arrested for drug
use. State legislators and the general public were led by Gov. Linda
Lingle in a panic-stricken drive to drug test teachers. Four out of
13,000 made an illegal choice and the cries of the villagers are
screaming for justice and safety of children; all that's missing are
torches and pitchforks.

No one has stepped forward to defend the integrity of teachers. Not
one legislator, not one administrator, and foremost, not the governor.
And while these are the very people that hire teachers, none of them
has mandatory drug testing as a requirement for their salaries.

That's the main issue: teachers were not allowed to receive their
raise without agreeing to drug testing. In a political knee-jerk
reaction, the governor made it an all-or-nothing "deal" over salary
negotiations. Teacher merit was never a consideration. The difficulty
of recruiting and retaining new teachers wasn't given feeble
recognition. All 13,000 teachers were blamed for the mistakes of four.

In response to the outcry of, "teachers are with our children two to
six hours a day, we must be sure our children are safe," remember:
teachers are also parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, neighbors,
coaches, counselors, and church members. Does it follow, then, that
all parents, grandparents, etc., who spend two to six hours a day with
children need to be drug tested? "Teachers are state workers, they
shouldn't refuse drug testing." Welfare recipients get their money
from the state. Should they be drug tested before receiving their
monthly checks?

Mandatory drug tests are inappropriate for salary contract
negotiations. While drug testing is required for many job
applications, it's rarely, if ever, used as the sole criteria for
employers to give employees raises.

Drug tests usually include guidelines and have the clause "reasonable
suspicion" clearly stated. In stark contrast, nothing is in place for
Hawai'i's teachers.

Approximately 40 percent of teachers were willing to go without a
raise in order to maintain a sense of dignity. What a display of
strength of character.


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MAP posted-by: Steve Heath