By: Amoka Mele
2020 and 2021 are terrible. It has been especially terrible for graduating keiki. Some in 2020 may have gotten drive through graduations while most received thoroughly sanitized diplomas in the mail. Our state government still allowed groups of California legislators to attend Maui conferences while both our state and theirs were on lock down, but our schools could not have graduations. We could not have Thanksgiving or Christmas with limited numbers of our families, but government officials could freely travel to Maui. They could have holiday dinner with their families. Now the rest of the country is opening and our own state Department of Education (DOE) has announced a full-return to in-person learning for the Fall 2021. Our businesses are still closed.
Some schools are still not in face-to-face sessions now. Vaccines are not approved for keiki and might be dangerous when they are! There is no mythical herd immunity, never has been. During the pandemic, we have been led by a Governor who has the 49th lowest approval rating in the country. 1 in 5 Hawaiians disapprove of Governor David Ige’s pandemic leadership. Even now Governor Ige refuses to open us back up. He may not be as bad as some of the other governors, but he does not get a pat on the back for not having a sexual scandal! 2020 graduates were Generation Drive-Through; 2021 graduates are going to be Generation Box Picnic!
Our 2020 and 2021 high school graduates are like returning Vietnam Veterans. There were no parades and no good job proclamations after Vietnam. Like our Vietnam Veterans, our 2020 and 2021 classes are now silently attempting to begin the next chapters of their lives while in a state of shock! These keiki deserve to have a parade and graduation. It was not their fault. It was our predominantly elected state Democratic officials’ fault!
The excuse that the pandemic teaches our keiki to be strong and resilient is absolutely misguided. What’s the excuse of our Democratic leadership for not having this state prepared nor being smart enough to lead successfully? Where was our Democratic leaders’ Hawaii Strong?
If the Democrats in this state want to right this wrong, our entire U.S. Congressional Delegation and our state legislators, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Hawaii Teachers Union should all go without a full year’s salary and benefits in order to pay for the 2020 and 2021 classes to have real graduations, parades, and parties. Once Hawaii actually reopens, there are plenty of secondary jobs available for them to make a living while they go without pay.
Our 2020 and 2021 keiki should not be ignored and forced to go away silently in shock due to the decisions for which they and their parents had no control. If anyone should go away silently, it should be our predominantly state Democratic leaders who have for decades now failed this bankrupting state. If the Democrats really want to make it right for our 2020 and 2021 keiki, give up your salaries so our kids can have the in-person graduations that you denied them through your poor, unprepared, purely left-wing political leadership.