Educators around the state say they will organize a walk-in protest from 7 to 8 a.m. today because they are “frustrated by the lack of funding in Hawaii’s schools and by the state’s being ranked worst in the country for teachers just last week by a national survey,” according to a press release.
The teachers are asking the public to support them, schools and keiki by voting for the constitutional amendment that is on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Hawaii teachers are joining what’s called the “red for ed” movement around the country. In Oklahoma, West Virginia and Arizona, teachers went on strike, using walk-ins and protests to make the community aware of the lack of funding in public schools.
The “red for ed” movement in Hawaii is expanding, and teachers across the state expect to hold even more walk-in protests later this month. Hawaii schools rank last in teacher pay and 45th in per pupil expenditures, adjusted for cost of living.
The Oct. 2 walk-ins will take place on Oahu at McKinley High.
Neighbor island sign-waving and walk-ins will occur between 7 and 7:45 a.m. On Kauai, teachers will protest at Wilcox Elementary.
The amendment asks if the Legislature should be authorized to establish a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education.
The Affordable Hawaii Coalition, comprised of community and business leaders, is rallying opposition to the amendment. It argues taxes are already too high in Hawaii, it will drive up the cost of living in the state even more and there is no guarantee the funds will go to public education.
Last week, WalletHub released the results of a survey that found Hawaii is the worst out of the other 49 states and Washington, D.C., to be a public school teacher, because of low salaries as well as a lack of both funding and support in the classroom.
The four Hawaii counties have filed an appeal of a ruling denying their challenge to the proposed constitutional amendment that asks voters to allow state lawmakers to impose real property taxes for public education.
Circuit Judge Jeff Crabtree last month denied the counties’ initial request to stop the proposal from going on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The counties argue the proposed amendment would erode the only source of tax income they are allowed by the state. They are seeking to invalidate the ballot question that’s to be on the November ballot, arguing that the language is vague, unclear and misleading.
The Hawaii State Teachers Association, among the proposal’s biggest supporters, say it could generate between $200 million and $400 million per year.
“To be ranked at the very bottom of a national study just emphasizes the fact that Hawaii’s teachers are the lowest paid in country which has resulted in high turnover rates and a shortage of more than 1,000 qualified teachers each school year,” said Corey Rosenlee, President of Hawaii State Teachers Association. “This is unacceptable. We need to reinvest in Hawaii’s public schools now and make our keiki the number one priority. The way we can do that is to vote in favor of the Constitutional Amendment which will create dedicated funding for Hawaii’s public schools.”