Group representing substitute teachers plans to address legislature

A Kaua’i group representing substitute teachers plans to lobby the Legislature to continue to support legislation that would allow nearly 5,200 substitute teachers statewide to become unionized.

The Substitute Teachers Professional Alliance (STPAL) called for the action following Gov. Lingle’s veto of the Senate bill May 1, said STPAL chairman John Hoff.

Among other reasons cited, Lingle rejected the bill because it conflicts with existing laws and because the bill would have granted collective bargaining powers to about 55,000 casual and part-time employees of the Department of Education (DOE), not just the substitute teachers.

Hoff said his organization, which numbers only 20 members at this point but is growing, will lobby the legislature to get the measure passed the next time around. Doing so will allow for more permanent job status for substitute teachers, Hoff said.

Mark Mararagan, a staff member of Kaua’i Sen. Gary Hooser, who is vice chair of the Senate Committee on Education, said the Legislature may decide to override Lingle’s veto.

In a related matter, Hoff said the Department of Education had plans to discharge between 1,500 to 1,700 substitute teachers to move toward compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, as way to attain higher academic standards and improvement of educational services.

The federal government required the DOE to meet the requirements, including producing highly-qualified teachers, by the 2005 to 2006 school year, Hoff said.

Because of pressure from STPAL and other interests, state education officials may have decided to withdraw their plan, and instead have continued to use substitute teachers as long as they enroll in programs that would allow them to acquire a college degree one day, Hoff said.

DOE officials were not readily available for comment.

Approval of the first DOE plan would have dramatically disrupted the lives of substitute teachers across the state, Hoff said.

“There are single mothers (substitute teachers) who are dependent on their jobs,” Hoff said. “There is one lady who has 16 years of experience (as a substitute teacher) but doesn’t have a college degree. She was very concerned.”


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