Furloughs End — As Summer Begins

Schools are back on Fridays! Yay! Just in time for … summer vacation.

But I won’t quibble.

Sure, it seems like this was a solution that should have happened sooner, before Hawaii became the butt of jokes nationwide.

Sure, Hawaii kids have to reac-quaint themselves with the strange notion that three-day weekends are the exception, not the rule.

And yes, sure, we can now all pretend that things are normal and everybody did just fine and no one lost face in the Furlough Friday debacle.

We can do that. But I hope we won’t.

Parents are, understandably, relieved. Marifrances Krstic, a single mom of high school kids, is one of them. “I’m just glad they’re over. I really feel that kids were the ones being shortchanged.”

They, however, really didn’t mind. “They could hang out with their friends, go to the beach. Basically it was just a weekend for them.”

Her kids are teens – old enough, in theory, to fend for themselves. Since they all have cell phones, Krstic knew they could easily reach her if they needed her. Still, it bothered her that she could-n’t afford to take time off.

“As you know, there are no services for teenagers. And because I have to work, I wasn’t able to supervise them. They were left to their own devices. They would always tell me where they were going, but I did worry.”

And there was the added worry that the relaxed school schedule was becoming just a little too comfy for the kids.

“It gave them a habit pattern of ‘yeah, four days a week is great …'”

But, of course, the main drawback was something even her son and daughter, both fairly ambitious students, eventually felt.

“They liked having the time off but they felt they weren’t going to be as competitive. They knew they were missing stuff. My daughter just had a final and she swears they never went over one of the subjects.”

Teachers I’ve spoke with are relieved as well. Even though they’re giving up non-instructional days as part of the deal, some say they don’t care. They have been feeling the pressure just as much as parents and kids. My sister, who teaches at Wahiawa Middle, was coming in on her own time to meet with students despite the furloughs, and she wasn’t the only one. Teachers are well-aware that without them kids lose not just instructional time, but also the safe haven teachers have created for them at school.

I am happy the matter is resolved, but I do not believe we have a happy ending. Far from it. No one comes out of this looking pretty, and we are sure to see more epic budget battles ahead. I predict more flinging of mud and passing of blame. At least, for a while, our students won’t be rolling around in the mud with the adults.

And at least, maybe, hopefully, the Powers That Be will remember our year of shame, and do whatever it takes to avoid a repeat.

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