Tuesday | January 24, 2017
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Stephens: Schools should teach more U.S. history

Changing the curricula of Hawaii’s public schools will help lay the groundwork for the Department of Education to improve its system overall, said Moke Stephens, a Keaau resident seeking the state House District 4 seat.

Stephens, a nonpartisan candidate, calls for increased teaching in American history, American principles and the U.S. Constitution to help students at a young age understand how the system is supposed to work.

He said getting the “right books” into schools would be the first measure he would introduce as a legislator, if elected.

“We need to trade whatever curriculum we’re using now for curriculum that will teach the U.S. Constitution from the Founding Fathers’ point of view,” he explained. “The technology today may be different, but the social issues remain, except that they are just getting reinvented.”

Stephens would also like to see the Board of Education dissolved in favor of local school boards that include parents and have the authority to make decisions.

“According to the fundamental principles, parents are responsible for the education of their children and the schools are there to help and not take over,” Stephens said, noting parents should have some influence in what their children learn. “There’s currently a feeling of the schools being in control of education with the parents getting in the way.”

Stephens is running as a nonpartisan candidate in the Aug. 11 primary election to represent constituents of lower Puna.

On the issue of school busing, Stephens again pointed to a lack of education in American principles as the culprit for the state’s current situation, but said he would look to find funding to keep buses running for public school students.

“Getting an education is important to me, so I may cut other programs in order to provide funding for that program,” he said.

To reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels, Stephens proposes the island use more of its geothermal resources for energy production.

As long as developers can increase production safely, and possibly keep any gases from escaping during the process, Stephens said he supports increasing geothermal energy production on the island.

The technology to produce geothermal energy through a fully enclosed system does exist, he said pointing to Moku Power and Power Tube Inc., two companies that have developed a clean, closed-loop geothermal energy production system.

“I’d love to see it increased,” he said. “But, they have to find a safe way to do it.”

However, the company must pay for all the costs associated with getting a geothermal energy plant online, he said.

“If they want to do it — they’ll do it,” he said. “Tax dollars shouldn’t go to that.”

He would also like to see another utility compete with Hawaii Electric Light Co. with the hope of providing residents a lower electric rate.

“It’s just overcharging for the energy we already have here,” he said. “Ultimately, from competition, the consumer wins because the best service and the best quality are being offered for the lowest price.”

As for increasing taxes, a quick “no” was the response from Stephens. User fees are a possibility for an increase.

“But, I don’t like the thought of increasing first,” he explained. “It’s more of a matter of cutting expenses and using what we already have before collecting more.”