Teacher Shortage Crisis Diagnostic Tool
How does Hawaii's teacher shortage crisis impact you?
Hawaii is suffering from a teacher shortage crisis. More than 60,000 keiki are not taught by a qualified teacher each year. Since 2012, the number of teachers leaving Hawaii has increased by more than 70 percent. Some hard-to-staff schools have 30 percent or more teachers who are unqualified, out of field, or inexperienced. This diagnostic tool can help identify the impacts of Hawaii's teacher shortage crisis on your classroom and on your school.
Check all that apply:
I have unlicensed teachers on my campus.
During the 2018–19 school year, Hawaii had a total of 1,029 emergency hires and vacancies. Jahstyce Ahulau, a ninth-grade student at Campbell High School, told HSTA that students can tell when unqualified teachers don’t know their subject matter. “It’s because they themselves will either admit it or you see that they’re struggling trying to give off the message, whether it’s they’re asking another teacher, they’re asking a student what should be taught, they’re going onto Google or whatever the case may be, you can tell because the teacher will often pause, or if you do ask for one-on-one help, your questions aren’t being answered and you’re not really getting all the information you need to be able to be successful in that class,” she said.
I don't have time to help students the way I want to because I have to work a second or third job.
Many teachers have told us they work two or three jobs to support their families. Avi Penhollow, a Kaiser High School teacher and a 20-year teaching veteran, told HSTA he drives Uber to make ends meet. “It’s insulting to the intelligence of anyone who lives in Hawaii, teachers or not teachers, that no one’s making a livable wage,” he said. "People are incentivized to become administrators. People are leaving the classroom in droves to gain a higher salary." Chris Castillo, a sixth-grade teacher at Waianae Elementary, says he works two side jobs at two gyms, and gets home at around midnight. “When am I supposed to grade or do anything for my kids the next day?” he asked.
I know fellow educators who have left Hawaii and/or the teaching profession because they cannot survive on a teacher's salary.
Since 2012, Hawaii has lost more State Approved Teacher Education Programs (SATEP) teachers than it hires. Ryan Mandado headed the special education department at Campbell High until he became chief academic officer at Dream House Ewa Beach, a new charter school that opened this school year. "I went into administration because the teacher pay sucked," he said. "So many teachers are saying, 'How do I get into admin? How do I get into admin?' That should not be the case. Instead, it should be, 'How do I stay in the classroom?'"
I have been asked to take on more students in my classroom because my principal could not fill a vacancy.
Because of a lack of qualified applicants, principals are finding themselves with no one to interview for teaching vacancies. This situation means some schools start the year without a teacher in a classroom, and principals have had to decide to assign those students to other teachers, increasing class sizes because of their inability to find anyone to fill the positions.
I have not been able to get a substitute because they are already working as long-term subs.
Because of the large number of teacher vacancies, principals often pressure day-to-day substitute teachers to apply to the HIDOE as an emergency hire or to cover a long-term vacancy as a day-to-day substitute. This problem eliminates the ability of that sub to be able to fill in for full-time teachers when they are ill or need a day off to take professional development. Some schools have such a problem finding substitutes that they will temporarily hold several classes in the cafeteria at the same time with a vice principal or administrator supervising students.
I know at least one inexperienced teacher who has been forced to take on a leadership role.
In some Hawaii schools, all the teachers in a grade level or department are still probationary teachers. That means as they are still trying to figure out what they're doing professionally, they have to serve as department heads or grade-level chairs. The demands are overwhelming and there’s no one to mentor them properly. These inexperienced teachers would prefer to spend the extra time focusing on their students, preparing for class, and improving their teacher practice rather than administrative duties.
I know at least one special education student who is not receiving adequate services.
Because of teacher and educational assistant vacancies, class sizes at some schools are a lot bigger than they should be, impacting the amount of time, attention, and support special education students receive in class.
If you checked any of the boxes on this list, you are affected by Hawaii's teacher shortage crisis. The Hawaii State Teachers Association is committed to solving this crisis. We want to attract more people, especially local students, to the field of teaching. We also want to develop and expand programs to retain teachers, especially those in the mid- to late-stage of their careers. Our working plan will require a multifaceted approach fueled by member participation. We cannot end this crisis without you.
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Start your own conversation about Hawaii's teacher shortage crisis! Download a copy of the Teacher Shortage Crisis diagnostic tool here.