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IN a book published in 1966 about the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (which included the NMI), the author E.J. Kahn Jr. mentioned meeting a 27-year-old Micronesian whose education consisted of three years at a Catholic mission school. He told Kahn that “his one ambition in life was to get a pair of low shoes, size 7 ¼ medium, to wear to church.” 

On Saipan, Kahn met a local businessman who had no education until he was 20. “In one outlying island group of the Truk [Chuuk] district, a 15-year-old boy teacher is doing his best to cope with a class containing some students nearly twice is age. At the other end of that particular spectrum are dozens of middle-aged Micronesians who have been teaching school most of their adult lives but are barely educated themselves and could never hope to complete high school, let alone college.”

In those days, only a very few islanders — those who could afford it — were able to send their children to Guam or the states to attend at least a “run-of-the-mill American…school.”

Today we can say that the NMI has come a long way.

Since the establishment of the Commonwealth government in 1978, the NMI has consistently made education its priority. CNMI elected officials tapped federal funds, created local scholarship programs, opened a community college, and expanded the Public School System and its pool of U.S.-educated local educators. Through good and bad times, education received (and still does) a significant amount of public funds.

Today, amid a pandemic that has shut down schools, other establishments and offices, we celebrate all of the CNMI’s newly promoted students and graduates for reaching a personal milestone that used to be unobtainable for many islanders in the past. Today, rich or poor, a child born in the CNMI can attend U.S.-accredited elementary and high schools and even college without leaving the Northern Marianas. If they so choose and if they qualify, they can also attend colleges or universities in the U.S. with substantial financial assistance from their Commonwealth and federal governments. What many islanders in the not-so distant past could only dream of is now theirs for the taking. 

Good job CNMI!


Step right up folks!

IF the House minority bloc members are truly concerned about the expenditures of the executive branch — specifically the governor’s — then they should propose deep cuts to the administration’s budget. In anticipation of a gubernatorial veto, they should also take the issue to the voters through the initiative petition process. Creating “special committees” and conducting political public hearings in an election year could be interesting and probably even entertaining; but actually doing something and not just grandstanding expressing concern about “runaway” government spending should also be considered by those who are in a position to actually do something about what they tirelessly insist is a serious problem.

As for the senators “concerned” about the plight of furloughed government employees: we suggest that the Senate review the lists of executive branch personnel who were not furloughed and choose who among them should be furloughed instead.  Or are the senators saying that no one should have been furloughed? Sounds great. Over $13 million is needed to re-hire the furloughed government employees. Senators, please identify the funding source. Show us the money.

In any case, if “expressing concern” could be converted into U.S. dollars, the CNMI government, by now, would have all the funding it needs.



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