Hawaii’s Stalled School System Screws Students

By: Michael John McCrae

The article is entitled: “In Hawaii, school’s out for recession”, Oct 19, by Mark Niesse, Associated Press Writer; reporting on the new teacher’s contract for Hawaii’s public school teachers.

According to Mr. Niesse there are only 171,000 students in Hawaii’s public schools. There are 13, 000 teachers. This is a 13 to 1 ratio and only a total of 184,000 people attending the system. The sad tale is that Hawaii ranks 47th in the nation in 8th grade reading and math scores.

Mr. Niesse reports that 14 percent of the public school budget is roughly 227 million dollars annually. This makes 100 percent of the budget a little over 10.5 billion annually. If you divide that by the number of people in Hawaii’s public system it comes to a little over $56,000 per person.

The school system has recently cut 17 days from its school calendar as a cost cutting measure. The state also renegotiated a contract with the 13,000 teachers for an 8 percent cut in salary. Of course, they are now working 10.5 percent fewer days in a school year. Quote: “The new agreement also guarantees no layoffs for two years and postpones the implementation of random drug testing for teachers.”

A school system sitting in 47th place must have more than a few teachers breathing great sighs of relief over that agreement. They get to keep jobs, salaries and drugs for two more years without having to be accountable for any poor student performances in math or reading. Eighty-one percent of the teachers voted for the 8 percent pay cut with perks. I will only assume the 19 percent who voted to keep the additional 17 days were those who actually care about teaching and probably don’t take drugs.

Save the teachers! Screw the students! Save the teachers!

Here is a suggestion Hawaii. Scrap your public schools. Issue each child a $15,000 voucher for the schools of their choice. Close all the public schools and release all 13,000 teachers to send their resume’s to the private schools that will be more than happy to receive an influx of students with paid tuitions. Some of those teachers might even get hired.

At $15,000 a student you’ll be saving a whole lot of cash. Without having to pay 13,000 teachers who aren’t teaching much anyway, you’ll save even more cash. You can use the abandoned public schools as apartment complexes for the homeless, or sell them to private investors to open private schools willing to teach children for $15,000 annual tuition. They could be day-care centers for local communities; safe houses or even minimum security centers for work release detainees. The state would be making money instead of losing it hand over fist to a corrupt education system that is not benefiting your state’s youth.

So Hawaii’s children, already scoring poorly on national tests are losing an additional 17 days of school. The teachers get to keep their holidays, their teacher “planning days” and need only return 8 percent of their salary while getting an additional 10.5 days at the beach. What a deal! No Teacher Left Behind! You must read that article.

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