Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement & Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust

Discussion Questions

  • Chapter 10:  “We Must March!”
    • Why weren’t other parents collecting signatures on a petition in support of the Kamehameha Schools president?  Do you think Karen Keawehawaii Farias was risking anything when she did so?
    • Students Kamani Kualaau and James Moniz wrote a long letter in support of Dr. Chun.  Their letter appears on page 128.  Do you think they were risking anything when they did so?  Why do you think trustee Lindsey asked Kualaau how he would feel if she called Princeton and described him as a “rabble rouser”?
    • Do you think it was appropriate for the school principal to call Kualaau out of class and drive him to trustee Lindsey’s office for a closed-door meeting?  If not, what should the principal have said to Lindsey when she told him to do so? 
    • Nona Beamer wrote a letter to the editor that appears on page 131.  That letter was very short, yet it had a big impact on the Kamehameha ohana and is credited with having inspired the march.  Why do you think this particular letter had such a big impact?  Do you think the impact would have been the same regardless of who wrote it?
    • On page 133 the authors describe a meeting attended by about thirty Kamehameha teachers.  The mood was one of “grieving.”  Everyone was unhappy with trustee Lindsey, yet only one teacher support confrontation.  He called the others “sheep,” implying that they were too compliant.  If you had been there, what approach would you have favored?  Why?
    • Why was the Kamehameha ohana so hesitant to oppose the trustees publicly?  Were they afraid of something?  If so, what?
    • According to the authors, “There were people … who would relish the spectacle of Hawaiians divided, openly in conflict with one another, about to turn the biggest, most visible, and most precious Hawaiian institution into a battlefield.”  In your own words, what does that mean?
    • When word of Nona Beamer’s letter reached the Chief Justice, he said the problems were internal to the trustees, and that he had no authority to act.  Beamer disagreed with that.  What do you think?  What evidence supports your opinion?
    • On page 135, the authors quote a letter to the editor that praised trustee Lindsey.  It later was discovered that Bishop Estate staff members would regularly “ghost-write” letters to the editor.  What does that mean?  Do you think “ghost-writing” a letter to the editor is illegal, unethical, or immoral?  Why?
    • The Kamehameha Schools president encouraged students and faculty not to join the march.  In fact, he threatened negative consequences to any of them who went anyway.  Why would he do that?  What would you have done if you have been in his position at that time?  Why?
    • On page 136 the authors describe a meeting where 48 out of 48 Kamehameha teachers and administrators agreed with the statements of concern but 47 of those 48 said they were afraid to put their names on them.  What was their fear?  Would statements of concern with signatures be more powerful that without signatures?  Why?  Would you have signed the statements if you had been in that group?
    • Beginning on page 139 the authors describe the march.  How much time and effort do you think it took to organize and carry out that march?  How would you go about arranging a large march?
    • On page 141 the authors describe a scene where two trustees and members of their ohana tried to form a roadblock of sorts.  Rather than force a confrontation, the marchers just kept going and entered on the other side of the courtyard.  Was that a wise decision, or should the marchers have tried to break through the roadblock?  How does a person decide when to fight, and when to back down?
    • The marchers applauded loudly when they heard the last line of the teachers’ statement: “Let our absence here today speak louder than words ever could.”  Why did they applaud loudly?  What made that statement so powerful? 
    • How do you think the teachers’ statement was drafted: by one individual or by all the teachers working together?  If you wanted your class to issue a statement from the entire class, how would you go about doing so?
    • This chapter ends with a staff member asking herself, “Am I a coward that I was afraid to be out there marching?  What was wrong with me that I wasn’t willing to stand up and be counted and have my face photographed?”  Do you think she was a coward?  If you had been in her position at that time, do you think you would have joined the marchers, or done what she did?  Why?