Education is one of the most telling indicators for a person’s well-being here in Hawai’i. Persons with education generally have an overall higher standard of living and greater opportunity for higher paying jobs. Education is an important component to the development of our keiki, youth and young adults in Hawai’i. Just like monetary investments focus on capital infrastructure improvements so should education be seen as an investment in the Human capital for both the community and the state of Hawaii. Therefore, I stand for the following to help improve the current status of education throughout Hawai’i:
1) Refurbishment of Facilities: I support the refurbishment and technological upgrading of facilities throughout the K-12 facilities within the DOE System. As businesses require our students to be critical thinkers we must improve our aging facilities to accommodate a more innovating and progressive learning environment.
2) Support Services: Providing additional services for students not in the mainstream setting has been a constant battle with the state. Example: the Felix Consent Decree that mandated students under the status of Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or 504 designations be given additional services provided either via contracted persons or state support staff. With the end of the Felix Consent Decree the state is once again looking at putting the burden back on teachers and withdrawing contracted support staff. For example, there are suggestions by the DOE to withdraw BISS (Behavioral Intervention Support Specialist) support from schools with students that required such service per the IEP (Individualize Education Program). However, the DOE is not making the SPED teachers do the work of the BISS which on average could translate to almost two or more hours per child per week. New tasks could range from now writing treatment plans, collection and disseminating of data. Which means valuable time in teaching is lost due to the new burdens shifted upon teachers and to the detriment to the students all in the name of savings. Such actions will cause a parent to once again sue the state of Hawai’i. These court cases are unnecessary and take away valuable resources from the state that would otherwise be used in the support of students needing additional services. If elected, I will work to increase support staff so that teachers can teach and not be burden with additional work that has been done previously by a qualified professional.
3) Support for an Increase in Teacher Pay and Retirement Protection: Teaching is a noble profession and it should be noted that teachers should be given the pay that they deserve for the job that they do. They are the cornerstone of a successful, vibrant and innovative society. They teaching our next generation of policemen/police women, firemen, carpenters, dock workers, longshoremen etc. Yet, teacher pay is not commensurate with responsibility of being mentors and teaching. Therefore, in the Hawai’i State Legislature I will look for every opportunity to increase teacher pay and will vote against any measures that attempt to reduce retirement benefits. Teachers worked hard and earn their benefits, thus they should not be subject to be siphoned off to pay for more prison cells, etc.
4) Teacher Pay or Ratings Attached to Student Test: I am in strong opposition of teachers pay or rating being incumbent upon student tests. This only takes away from real teaching which may sometimes not be in the standardized format. Teachers that are under such guidelines are in effect suppressed from being creative in their teaching techniques and are now some cases teaching only the test. Teachers should be allowed to be creative in teaching and yes certain curriculum should be required, but it should be up to the teacher on how those approaches should be taken. Usually the teacher knows what’s best for their particular class. If elected, I will fight all attempts at legislation that may have indications of attaching standardized testing to teacher ratings and or pay.