The cost of living in Hawai‘i has made
it even more difficult to fill the more than 400 annual vacancies
in public schools here. Irene Igawa, negotiation specialist
at the Hawai‘i State Teacher’s Association, which
represents Hawai‘i public school teachers, said that
the state is not helping. By cutting automatic pay scale increases
and adding language to the contract that makes salary increases
subject to legislative funding, Igawa said, the state has made
it difficult for teachers who are already certified to continue
in that profession. She believes that removal of this language
may begin to relieve the shortage.
Filling the 400 vacancies expected in 2005-2006 in the Department
of Education will provide relief, but it will not reduce the
size of classes. The number of vacancies is based on a ratio
of 26 students to one teacher. Igawa said that if classes were
reduced to a 17-1 ratio, teachers would be more effective. She
said that with the current class size, teachers are spending
as much as 23 percent of class time disciplining students, and
they are working harder to get students to retain information.
Igawa said that Hawai‘i is ranked 18th in the nation, including
Washington, D.C., for teacher’s salaries, but that when
the cost of living is factored in, that ranking falls to dead
last. Igawa also said that, for a lot of teachers, the job is
not fun anymore because of the heightened expectations and the
long work hours.
Attrition is also taking a toll on teacher numbers, said Bruce
Shimomoto, personnel specialist for the Hawai‘i Department
of Education. As older teachers retire, Shimomoto said, younger
teachers, because many prefer to teach in their home towns, often
move back to the mainland after only a few years. Because most
of the teachers here in Hawai‘i are originally from Hawai‘i,
Shimomoto said he would like to see more local people have access
to higher education in their communities. For instance, there
are no universities on Kaua‘i or Maui, and Shimomoto believes
that if students could stay on those outer islands while in college,
more of them might be inclined to become teachers.
Incentive programs help, Shimomoto said. Students who have
earned their B.A. in one of the target areas can work as
the agreement that they will become fully certified within four
years. As they work, they can attend certification classes at
night and report their progress to the Department of Education.
The state has also created a loan forgiveness program that will
erase the student loans of teachers who qualify, once they have
worked as a teacher for a minimum of three years.
Shimomoto said that for many who have chosen to become teachers,
the rewards are more gratifying than the monetary ones. Even
if that is true, common sense suggests that those who live here
are more likely to stay here and be satisfied as teachers if
they had better benefits and a more competitive salary.
HPU’s new program for teacher certification (Kalamalama
29,1) and the new M.Ed program should help alleviate the shortage.
HPU’s Center for Graduate Studies is accepting applications
for the new education program, which will provide two options
that will prepare graduates for teaching secondary education.
Recruitment and curriculum development has already begun and
classes will start in this summer. Undergraduate students can
use the concurrent program to accelerate the two-year program
and begin their teaching career sooner.
Harry Byerly, associate vice president and director of the
Center for Graduate Studies, advised that students need to
they want to teach and also what they want to teach when they
start college. According to the HPU Web site through the Teacher
Education program students can earn a master of education degree
in secondary education and qualify to be licensed in 45 states
Working adults who would like to become teachers, or teachers
who would like to become certified in an additional area, can
attend classes that are conveniently scheduled in the evenings
and on weekends. Byerly said HPU’s education program has
an emphasis on technology, and is using it to support learning.
An electronic portfolio will be created for each student at the
beginning of their graduate-level instruction to document their
achievements. The portfolio will be available to students even
after graduation, and it can be a valuable tool throughout their
teaching career, Byerly said.
For more information on the education program at HPU, go
to hpu.edu/med or contact the Center for Graduate Studies