Compression was one of the topics public school educators expressed frustration over at Kapolei High School on Sept. 24, 2019. The Hawaii Department of Education conducted several sessions on Oahu, Hawaii Island, and Maui as part of a teacher salary study; results are expected to be released later this year.
Veteran public school teachers across the state could receive thousands of dollars in raises at the beginning of next school year under a proposal to remedy the wrong done to educators who have been denied step pay increases over the last two decades. The measure would require tens of millions of dollars in funding from state lawmakers, who convene their 2020 legislative session next week.
In a memo released Jan. 10, State Schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said she will ask state lawmakers to approve funding for a salary step adjustment as part of an Experimental Modernization Project for eligible teachers to address pay compression.
The HSTA's analysis shows that veteran teachers' annual pay should increase anywhere from $900 to $17,000 if salary steps properly reflected their years of service.
Unlike many school districts in the country, Hawaii educators’ years of experience are not automatically taken into consideration to determine when they earn step movements. Hawaii public school teachers can only receive increased pay for years of service if those rates are negotiated with the state, which refused to provide funding for increases during economic downturns.
"In order to end Hawaii's teacher shortage crisis, we strongly believe all educators' compensation should be increased," said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. “Research shows that teachers become more effective the longer they are in the classroom. We have to do more to encourage educators, especially those who have years and even decades of experience, to keep teaching our children."
“This proposal is part of a multi-phased plan to ensure that all our keiki, regardless of where they live, what their special needs are or their ethnicity, are taught by highly qualified teachers,” Rosenlee added.
In her memo to the BOE, Kishimoto said she is planning to enter into an Experimental Modernization Project (EMP), "in response to concerns reported by the Department of Education (Department) and the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) over equity and compression in teacher salaries that is impacting the retention of licensed, tenured teachers who are essential to closing the achievement gap to ensure equity and excellence for each student.
"While the new employer-initiated compensation tool will be a focal point, collective bargaining will continue to provide teachers with en-masse pay raises in the future," Kishimoto wrote.
Rosenlee said, "The changes proposed by the superintendent are in addition to the bargaining process. We will have another opportunity to bargain for our next contract in the fall."
HSTA's current four-year contract expires in the summer of 2021.
If state lawmakers fund Kishimoto’s proposal, thousands of teachers who've been in the DOE for more than 10 years would receive one-time step movements beginning next school year. The HSTA's research shows that those educators' pay should increase anywhere from one to five salary steps. Each step is equivalent to a three-percent pay increase, except for educators moving from Step 14A to 14B, who receive a six-percent salary increase. So an educator moving up two steps may see a six-percent salary hike and so on.
The DOE has not released the overall cost of the proposed step movements for the 2020–21 school year, but state lawmakers would need to appropriate tens of millions of dollars for these adjustments to be implemented.
Thousands of other educators hired within the last seven years who have received regular step increases most likely would not receive a pay adjustment.
In its request to the BOE, the DOE said the one-time salary adjustments will “improve overall teacher retention, especially teachers who are ‘home-grown,’ and many of our most experienced educators who may otherwise elect to leave teaching rather than remain.”
The DOE believes that making this salary adjustment will help boost the state’s dismal teacher retention numbers. Currently, only 53 percent of teachers remain in the Hawaii DOE for five years or more. In addition, about 1,000 long-term substitutes and emergency hires filling vacancies in classrooms are not graduates of a state-approved teacher education program. In fact, some of those subs and emergency hires are not even college graduates.
If the Legislature approves of the funding and details are still to come, the HSTA believes public school teachers with 22 years or more of experience should be placed at the highest step, 14B. The HSTA believes nearly 3,000 of its members deserve to move up to 14B.
Experienced teachers need to have their salary step rate corrected to a more appropriate step. By assessing each teacher’s experience (years of teaching) and applying the following chart that the HSTA proposed in our 2017 negotiations for a new contract, we believe the changes will contribute to retaining more of our experienced teachers.
Above: The HSTA proposed this steps-to-years chart during negotiations in 2017.
The current distribution of teachers on each step of the salary schedule is inconsistent and compressed, contributing to senior teachers leaving. In many cases, teachers who have 10 or more years of experience difference are on the same step. Current figures show 5,942 teachers with between 0 and 24 years of service are clustered between Steps 9 through 11. That's why the problem is called compression.
Kathy Shibuya, a fifth-grade teacher at Kaumualii Elementary on Kauai, has been teaching for 21 years. While she is only on Step 11 of the salary schedule, the HSTA believes she should move up to Step 14A if the superintendent's proposal is funded by state lawmakers.
“Rectifying the compression problem says the state values our kids and is trying to ensure they get the best education possible. It also says the state values its teachers and our years of experience. This experience benefits not only the students we teach directly, but also the upcoming generation of teachers that we mentor,” Shibuya said.
If you are unsure of what salary step you are on, refer either to your most recent Form 5 last issued in Oct. 2019 or to the “Regular” earnings line on your most current pay stub and multiply that amount by 24. Take the result and find that amount on one of the gray rows either in Exhibit C (10-month) or Exhibit CC (12-month) to determine your current salary step (2, 3, or 5 through 14B). Note: While you must be logged in as a registered user on our website to view these links, the same exhibits are also included in the full contract and supplemental agreement online here.
James "JJ" Cabralda has spent his entire nearly 20-year teaching career at Oahu's Leilehua High, his alma mater.
"We want to keep experienced educators in the system. If you’re trying to attract and keep teachers, for every year of service, you need to reward them as an incentive to stay," said Cabralda, who is the early college coordinator at Leilehua.
Cabralda is at Step 11 now, but under the one-time salary adjustment proposal, the HSTA believes he should move up to Step 14A if the Legislature approves funding.
"In comparison to other jobs and professions—we have friends in different trades—they are vested at the top pay level after just 10 years," Cabralda added, noting that many of his most experienced teaching colleagues are not on the top salary step even though they have more than 22 years of experience.
In her memo announcing the proposed salary adjustment, Kishimoto said, "It is important to recognize that, on average, the most effective 20-year teachers are significantly more effective than the most effective first-year teachers. These positive effects reach beyond the experienced teacher’s individual classroom to benefit the school and community."
Experienced teachers bring a multitude of professional growth, knowledge, skills, and abilities to their classrooms. The increasing scope and complexity of a teacher’s work, especially in the last 20 years, only emphasize the need to address the salary compression issue by correcting experienced teachers’ step placement on the salary schedule.
According to the DOE, our most experienced teachers are expected to model, mentor, and lead our best educational practices, which include but are not limited to:
Research shows that teacher experience positively affects student learning. A study published by the Learning Policy Institute in 2016 showed the following:
Based on a review of 30 studies published within the last 15 years that analyze the effect of teaching experience on student outcomes in the United States and met specific methodological criteria, researchers found that:
Although the research does not indicate that the passage of time will make all teachers better or incompetent teachers effective, it does indicate that, for most teachers, effectiveness increases with experience. The benefits of teaching experience will be best realized when teachers are carefully selected and well prepared at the point of entry into the teaching workforce, as well as intensively mentored and rigorously evaluated prior to receiving tenure. These efforts will ensure that those who enter the professional tier of teaching have met a competency standard from which they can continue to expand their expertise throughout their careers.
On Dec. 5, the BOE voted to approve paying up to $10,000 a year in shortage differentials effective Jan. 7 to thousands of educators in three areas with the worst shortages. Nearly 4,000 educators will receive $14.7 million worth of extra pay for the remainder of this school year, pro-rated for the second semester, boosting their paychecks this spring.
The board took the unprecedented step of approving differentials in the middle of a contract and during the school year to influence educators before their Spring 2020 transfer period, when they can change schools and worksites for SY 2020–21. Hawaii's SpEd and hard-to-staff differentials are now the highest in the country. Read more about the differentials here.
Related Story: HSTA's frequently asked questions about teacher shortage crisis differentials
Gov. David Ige and Kishimoto have committed to funding the differentials for the rest of this school year with existing funds, while Ige has submitted the $30.4 million request to the Legislature to fund the differentials for school year 2020–21.
On Nov. 5, the latest step movement negotiated by HSTA boosted paychecks for returning teachers. In the current contract and the previous one covering a total of eight years, HSTA has negotiated a step increase one year, followed by an across-the-board increase the next, and alternating each year. Teachers say being unable to plan on basic raises makes educators less committed to staying in Hawaii and in public education, contributing to the state’s teacher shortage crisis.
The HSTA's current contract will provide a 3.5-percent across-the-board pay hike for all educators on the first day of the second quarter of school year 2020–21.
Click here to view digital copies of your full 2017–21 contract. This includes salary schedules as well as the 2019–21 supplemental contract.
Members who register for an online account on HSTA.org can access a breakdown of salary schedule movement here. You must be logged in to view this link.
If you don't have an online account, you can register for one here.
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.
These proposals are part of the HSTA's five-year plan to end the statewide teacher shortage crisis. The HSTA's wide-ranging plans include:
In the months ahead, we will be asking members for various actions such as writing testimony or sending supportive emails to our legislators for the bills that will fund the salary (step) adjustments and continue funding the shortage differentials next year. To prepare now, you may draft some quick testimony explaining how you and your students would benefit from these pay hikes and how they would help end the teacher shortage crisis and retain you! Legislators want to hear your personal, front-line stories from the classroom, rather than generic comments. We will be in touch with more information about how to take action in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!