Friday, September 27, 2019

More than 1,300 people sound off about how to end Hawaii's teacher shortage crisis

300+ showed up in person to talk about the effects of low teacher pay


Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Across the state this week, 335 educators, parents and students spoke out at a listening tour held by the Hawaii Department of Education about teacher compensation, while another 1,000 people answered an online survey that's still receiving feedback through Oct. 6.

The session at Kapolei High's cafeteria on Tuesday featured testimony from Julia Fernandez, a preschool special education teacher at Mokulele Elementary, whose tearful interview with HSTA summarizes the frustration felt across the state by many teachers.

Wiping away tears, Fernandez said, "You have to be able to take care of yourself so you can take care of the kids, and it's hard to do that when I'm struggling inside all the time, and nobody's taking care of me."

Fernandez noted that her low pay and lack of classroom resources for her students who need extra help are constantly on her mind and students need a teacher "who was mentally and physically present every single day."

A Campbell High student also spoke about how she and other classmates can tell when long-term substitutes don't know the material they're supposed to be teaching students.

Read more about the session at Kapolei High, which included suggestions to raise starting teacher pay to $60,000 from $49,000, reduce the number of credits required for reclassification and increase bonuses for teachers at hard-to-staff schools to $5,000 from $3,000 a year.

For those unable to attend a listening session, an online survey will be open through Oct. 6 to gather feedback. This survey will also be open to parents and community members.

Click here to take the survey

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Maui teachers with kids in public schools worry 'their education system is failing them'

On Maui, educators gathered at Baldwin High's auditorium Wednesday afternoon and evening, where several of them explained the problem of compression, in which teachers who've been working longer than newer colleagues have salaries only slightly higher because the veteran teachers' pay froze during the recession and furloughs a decade ago.

Renee Hatakeyama, who was raised in Wailuku on Maui, returned home with her family a few years ago and took an $18,000 pay cut from her teaching job in Tacoma, Wash. She says public school teachers here need free professional development, instead of having to pay for it themselves to learn new skills, qualify for reclassification and earn a higher salary.

Hatakeyama, who has three children in Maui's public schools, said, "My children deserve highly qualified teachers ... but their education system is failing them."

Read more about Maui educators' feedback at their listening session, which included asking for additional paid prep time and overtime for off-hours work such as hosting open houses and advising student clubs. 

DOE Listening Sessions - Lois Yamauchi

During the Hawaii State Department of Education's teacher compensation listening sessions at McKinley High School, Lois Yamauchi from Parents for Public Schools gave her thoughts on the topic in hopes that there will be improvements for Hawaii's teachers. Full Story: https://bit.ly/2mncWol #hsta #hstateachers #hstavoice #hawaiiteachers

Posted by Hawaii State Teachers Association on Tuesday, September 24, 2019


In Honolulu, parent group leader says 'our kids deserve better' and teachers plead for routine step increases

At the first listening sessions Monday at McKinley Community School for Adults, educators said Hawaii should join many school districts across the country in offering annual pay hikes called step increases automatically, instead of negotiating those step increases as Hawaii does now. 

"It should count for something that we stay here," said one teacher, while another said, "There's some real unfairness."

Clare Hanusz, a leader of the group Parents for Public Schools of Hawaii, said teacher "compensation is nowhere near where it should be. Our kids deserve better than that, the teachers deserve better than that."

Read the full story from the McKinley listening session, including why a charter school administrator said special ed teachers should get paid more.

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On Hawaii Island, educators speak out and a principal asks for higher teacher pay

Educators raise a variety of issues during the last listening session Thursday at Keaau HIgh's cafeteria on Hawaii Island, including the need to restore more support positions such as educational assistants. 

An elementary school principal said teachers are not getting paid at a level that reflects "the level of effort they're putting in, and passion and love that they're giving to our students."

Read the full summary of the Keaau meeting, in which teachers complained of months- or years-long delays in getting reimbursed for hundreds or thousands of dollars by the DOE, and the need to ease the teacher shortage crisis by making housing available to more folks who work in schools.

What the state is examining in its $130,000 teacher compensation study

Learn what cities and school districts in the continental United States the state is comparing with Hawaii in its study being conducted by Denver-based education consultants.

The state will continue collecting comments and suggestions for its teacher compensation study through Oct. 6. As of Thursday morning, about 1,000 people had taken the survey, which is open to anyone, including teachers, parents, students and others.

For those unable to attend a listening session, an online survey will be open through Oct. 6 to gather feedback. This survey will also be open to parents and community members.

Click here to take the survey

On Monday, WalletHub ranked Hawaii public school teacher pay worst in the country, factoring in the islands' high cost of living.

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Author: Keoki Kerr