Okay, so you don’t know what “Furlough Friday” means.  You must not live in Hawaii.  I haven’t had time to check, but I’m pretty sure most of the other 49 state governors are smart enough to know that balancing the state budget by sending public school children home for an extra 41 days isn’t a good idea.  (Linda LIngle is probably bummed that Sarah Palin decided she didn’t want to be governor anymore.)

Geez, even when I first heard the local teachers’ union, the HSTA, agreed to the furloughs. I was shocked and dismayed.  But hey, I don’t blame the teachers; they felt an immense pressure to settle the contract dispute and took the furloughs to get on with their lives and their duties.  At least their plan only called for 41 days over two years, which is far fewer than the 60 plus Linda Lingle originally wanted.  I guess that’s why she was so pleased with the settlement when it was announced.

It was only when parents and children around the state staged simultaneous protests on the first furlough day that she began to publicly backtrack from her original comments.  All of sudden she was unaware of the intricacies of the plan and claimed that she did not know that instructional days were being included in the planned furloughs.  Quickly her rhetoric shifted, and she began blaming the Board of Education and the HSTA for concocting the plan.  The rhetoric heated up even more when news of the furlough days hit national wire services and especially after federal education officials began criticizing the move.  And on the eve of Assistant Secretary of Education, Peter Cunningham’s, visit to Hawaii did she magically find $50 million dollars of “rainy day funds” to try and eliminate 15 of the prescribed days.  (Rainy day funds?  What was she waiting for?  A monsoon?)

Even the lethargic legislature began to rustle when criticism began to rain from the heavens above.  Maybe they thought it was god a-calling.  Now the HSTA again is being portrayed as the bad guys because they won’t roll over and give up their planning and professional development time without input.  Heck, everyone thinks teaching is easy–just walk in the door and start teaching!

Now it’s the University of Hawaii’s turn.  The school administration has yet to come to an agreement with their professors and instructors.  The calendar year is almost up and yet there hasn’t been any resolution–not even close may I add.  When will public policy makers realize that education is vital and should not be cut in order to keep spending money for tourism ads and the such.  I’m not sure how producing ads to convince people with no expendable income to travel to Hawaii is a good idea.  Is it really necessary to send all of the counties’ mayors to the Pacific Northwest to personally invite tourists to come to Hawaii?  Even Lingle decided she needed to go to China to bring the Chinese deeper into the capitalist fray.

Anyway, here I sit and type.  Last Friday was a furlough day and this Friday is another.  I’m going to try and spend time with my kids this Friday.  I’ll make sure we read some books, do some math, and write at some point during the day.  Don’t get my wrong, I love spending time with my kids, but I really hope national scrutiny will convince our governor and legislature to get off of their duff and do something about this situation.  If practice really makes perfect, we need to keep our children in school.