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‘Bold action’ targets teacher pay

A proposal by the state Department of Education aims to address Hawaii’s teacher shortage by increasing pay for classroom teachers in areas that faced the most severe shortages: special education, Hawaiian language immersion programs and geographically hard-to-staff areas.

The plan calls for special education teachers to receive an additional $10,000 annually, Hawaiian language immersion teachers to receive an additional $8,000 and those teaching in geographically hard-to-staff schools to receive $3,000-$8,000.

Gov. David Ige, state Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and others spoke about the proposal — which will be considered today by the state Board of Education — during a news conference Tuesday.

If approved, the pay differential would be implemented Jan. 7.

“I’m excited about the department’s proposal to increase compensation for teachers in those areas that we’ve had a tough time filling,” Ige said. “… This is the first step of a comprehensive program that we are looking at to end the teacher shortage, and we are starting with those positions that have been the toughest to staff all across the state.”

While there is “no single solution” to teacher staffing challenges, Kishimoto said the problem is solvable, but “we must take bold action to help us realize Hawaii’s exceptional public education system. Inaction is not an option, and that’s why we’re here today.”

The department promised to provide “equitable access to quality education” to every student in the state, she said.

“Fulfilling this promise begins with the department ensuring that our students have access to high-quality teachers for every student, every child, every classroom across our state,” Kishimoto continued. “The difficulties in recruiting and retaining qualified teachers for special education, Hawaiian language immersion programs … and hard-to-staff areas has created an equity issue for our students with the highest needs. This is an equity issue, and we need to call it what it is.”

By targeting these areas in phase I, “we are taking bold action to address the achievement gap that has impacted our schools for too long,” she said.
Source: The Garden Island

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