Saturday, October 24, 2009

How Hawaii's Budget Crunch Led to Furloughed Kids

At Noelani Elementary, the small school near Honolulu where President Obama learned to read and write, the next generation of Hawaii's leaders learned a new word this week: "furlough."

The Noelani students joined nearly 170,000 other children across Hawaii whose teachers on Friday began an unprecedented state furlough program that will close classrooms 34 days over the next two years. The "furlough Fridays" are part of a controversial effort by Gov. Linda Lingle to deal with a projected budget deficit of nearly $1 billion. The cost-cutting measure has angered parents, lawmakers and children. Popular musician and Hawaii public school graduate Jack Johnson sang at a rally Friday morning at the state Capitol to protest the furloughs. During the rally, parents handed a petition bearing thousands of signatures protesting the furloughs to the governor, whose office is on the fifth floor of the state Capitol.

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