Teachers' Union: Hawaii Gov. Blocking Furlough Deal

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Hawaii's teacher labor union said Tuesday there's not much of a chance of partially restoring the state's shortest-in-the-nation school year without Gov. Linda Lingle's support.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe said the Republican governor's "all or nothing approach" to regaining 10 furlough days this year and 17 next year is hindering efforts to return the state's 171,000 students to class.

See Also
See other stories on education issues in Hawaii. See data on Hawaii's public school system.

"The governor's pattern of unilateralism — from insisting on an all or nothing approach that compromises student safety and teachers' ability to effectively teach, to walking out on discussions, and yesterday's decision to summarily shoot down a viable solution to eliminate furlough Fridays — is a cruel blow to students, teachers and their families," Okabe said in a statement.

Lingle had said Monday that she couldn't back an agreement between the union and public school officials to resume school on some, but not all, of the teacher furlough days.

The agreement called for restoring seven of the 10 remaining furlough days this school year by using $35 million in rainy day fund money. The money would have directly paid for five school days, and the union would have agreed to replace the other two days by converting teacher workdays. The plan didn't address next school year's furlough days.

Lingle wanted to leverage $50 million from the fund to end all 27 furlough days. She tried to stretch the $50 million so that it would restore 12 furlough days if teachers would agree to teach on 15 planning or other noninstructional days.

The governor said the union's proposal didn't get enough bang for the taxpayers' buck.

"This arrangement is not a credible plan, it is not fiscally responsible and it is not sustainable," Lingle said.

Unless Lingle, the union and Board of Education can all agree on a plan, legislators won't spend the money, said House Speaker Calvin Say.

"The House would be willing to consider a special session if all parties agree to a tentative agreement," said Say, D-St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise.

Even if Hawaii's overwhelmingly Democratic legislature voted to use the money, Lingle still has the power to withhold spending it.

Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi said he will meet with Lingle's education negotiators Wednesday.

"The board and I remain committed to bringing students back to the classroom for as many days as possible," he said. "Failure is not an option when something as important as the education of Hawaii's children is at stake."

The agreement that Lingle is rejecting was reached after two months of political pressure by angry parents, state education officials and the teachers union.

In mid-October, the teachers and the Department of Education agreed to a new contract to help the state reduce its budget deficit. It called for 17 furlough days this school year and next, giving Hawaii the shortest school year in the country, at 163 days.

The furlough days amounted to an 8 percent pay cut for teachers.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

To Address Chronic Absenteeism, Dig into the Data

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Keep Your Schools Safe and Responsive to Real Challenges

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

3 Unique Learner Profiles for Emerging Bilinguals

Effective Questioning Practices to Spur Thinking

Empower Reading Teachers with Proven Literacy PD

Dyslexia: How to Identify Warning Signs at Every Grade

Increased Social Connectedness Through Digital Peer Learning

Student Engagement Lessons from 3 Successful Districts

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >