Categorized | Education, Government, News

Statement on status of discussions to return children to the classroom


HONOLULU – The following statement was released today by Linda Smith, senior policy advisor and Marie Laderta, director of human resources development:

“Governor Linda Lingle recently offered a plan to reopen Hawai‘i’s public schools on what has become known as ‘Furlough Fridays’.

“It is unfortunate that the Hawai‘i State Teacher’s Association has not seized this opportunity by allowing a vote on the agreement that will bring children back to school.

“The community supports reopening classes on 27 Fridays that would otherwise be closed. The Legislature has expressed its support for reopening the schools.

“National education officials also support restoring the number of days kids attend class. Yet almost three weeks since the plan was announced, we are still in lengthy and unproductive discussions with the State Teachers union.

“It is disappointing that the next discussions aren’t scheduled again until December 15th and 16th. This delay will seriously impact the possibility of teachers voting on the contract changes and the convening of a special session to enact the necessary legislation to use the State’s Rainy Day Fund. This will result in further loss of classroom time in the month of January.

“The Governor’s plan clearly recognized that shared sacrifice is necessary to bring children back to school. The State has pledged its willingness to provide up to $50 million in State funds to pay teachers for 12 more days of instruction between now and June 2011. The teachers are being asked to trade some of the time when students are not in school but they are on campus toward the restoration of furlough Fridays. Parents have sacrificed by accepting the loss of seven days of instruction for their children and the Department of Education will have to absorb incidental costs of reopening of its schools within its existing budget.

“It is time for the teachers union to recognize and accept the fact that if the education of our children is a priority, we can restore 27 days of classroom time but only if they are willing to share in this sacrifice.

“The State management team is prepared to meet daily, evenings and over the weekend if necessary to answer any remaining questions union leaders may have. There is nothing more important right now than our committed effort to resolving this matter. We are prepared to make time, we hope the HSTA feels the same.

“We therefore strongly urge the HSTA to meet with us, complete the discussions, call for a vote by their membership, and get on with the plan to reopen classrooms so our children can receive the education they deserve.

“Our students want to learn and it is our obligation to give them the support they and their parents are requesting, and that can only happen if we are able to enact the Governor’s plan.”

One Response to “Statement on status of discussions to return children to the classroom”

  1. Lisa Rodrigues says:

    What is truly disappointing is the continuous stream of biased disinformation streaming from the Governor’s office. How dare she blame the teachers for Furlough Fridays! The furloughs were HER IDEA. Teachers are already underpaid. Did she really think that they would say “no problem, we will work for no pay.”

    Can you imagine the public outcry if any of the other state workers were asked to return to work on their furlough days to work without pay? The outcry from those workers if they were asked to train for or coordinate their responsibilities on their own time? Try telling that to an attorney or a state legislator…

    Lingle doesn’t have a plan, and the teachers have already ratified a contract that she demanded… why would they renegotiate for even less? Has anyone noticed that the 7.9% paycut created by the furloughs is actually closer to an 11% cut? Adding days may increase the quantity of education, but it would decrease the quality of education.

    Teachers are expected to maintain “highly qualified teacher” status, current certification, and to create lessons that meet state standards which will prepare their students to pass the HSA tests. Those aren’t things a teacher can do on his/her own time. Those things require times when all teachers can work together toward the common goal of educating our students.

    Middle School Teachers are expected to plan for, teach, and grade assignments for as many as 140 students. Most of them also have families who rely on them once they leave work. Does Lingle really expect them to take all that work home also? Would you ask a police officer to take home a case file on his day off? or a doctor to perform surgeries while on leave?

    What is truly unfortunate is that everyone agrees that it is important to educate our children, but few people understand the need to take care of the people who make that education possible.

    Why is it that Lingle has singled out the teachers for her special brand of vendetta? Why are the state workers being asked to make up a shortfall that she created? If the state budget deficit impacts EVERY person in the state, shouldn’t EVERY person contribute to the solution?

    I strongly urge Lingle to rethink her position. I’d rather pay more taxes than see even one teacher or one state worker loose his/her job because of Lingle’s folly. I strongly urge the HSTA to start educating the public as to all the ridiculous requirements teachers have to meet, how much of our own time we already spend on our jobs, and how much money we spend out of our own pockets to supply our classrooms because Lingle has cut the school budget.

    I strongly urge the public to stop believing every lie being spun by Lingle and to demand a real solution that starts with dismissal of all the people responsible for the state deficit.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: