Teachers rally for funding

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    About 40 teachers from the Elsie Wilcox Elementary School are joined by 10 students, and one mother in holding signs encouraging a ‘yes’ vote on the state consitutional amendment, Tuesday morning before school started.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Teachers from the Elsie Wilcox Elementary School greet motorists, many of whom are bringing students to school, Tuesday morning.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Teachers at the Elsie Wilcox Elementary School hold a sign-waving campaign before school starts, Tuesday morning. Wilcox was the only school on the island that joined a statewide HSTA campaign encouraging funding for schools.

LIHUE — About 40 teachers from Elsie Wilcox Elementary School were joined by about 10 students and one mother in holding signs on Hardy Street Tuesday morning.

The group joined Hawaii State Teachers Association rallies across the state asking the public to support schools and keiki by voting “yes” on the constitutional amendment slated to be on the Nov. 6 election ballot.

“This is just one additional source of funding,” said Sharon Saronitman, one of the sign holders. “This is so when we go to the Hawaii State Legislature, they can’t tell us, ‘We don’t have money.’”

Teachers, wearing red HSTA shirts, held signs that said “Vote Yes on Amendment for Keiki and our Schools,” and “Vote Yes to Fund our Schools.”

Many waved to passing vehicles, while some of the drivers honked horns and waved in a show of support.

The proposed constitutional amendment would empower the Legislature 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.

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.

Sen. Michelle Kidani of Oahu introduced the bill on behalf of the HSTA, which was frustrated by the lack of funding in Hawaii’s schools. A recent Wallet Hub survey ranked Hawaii as the worst in the country for teachers because of low salaries as well as the lack of both funding and support in the classroom.

Kauai has about 750 public school teachers, including several on Ni‘ihau. Statewide, the HSTA has about 13,700 members.

Most teachers at the rally declined to speak with The Garden Island on Tuesday.

  1. Ken Conklin October 3, 2018 5:33 am Reply

    Take a look at the list of National Merit Scholarship semifinalists just released. These are the students whose hard work was done in schools which offered top-notch curriculum taught by great teachers. Notice how most of the students in the list attend private schools. I am disappointed that our public schools are failing to nurture our gifted and talented students to the extent they need and deserve. We pay public school teachers higher salaries than the private schools pay their faculty members, and we get lousy results. Maybe it’s not the fault of the teachers; but rather the bloated bureaucracy. We should not send any more money to the DOE until there is a rigorous audit to find out where our tax dollars are being wasted and to help figure out how to restructure the DOE. Football coaches and business executives who deliver poor results get fired; they do not get automatic pay raises and tenure.

  2. Charlie Chimknee October 3, 2018 7:45 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    We are told that this proposed NEW TAX money FOR TEACHERS can be diverted away from paying the teachers and used to fund other not nearly as important pet projects of the elected legislators and their special interest lobbyists.

    As well the language of the bill, we are told allows the tax to expand to local small business property owners, who are at all times struggling, and take their money, their basic family income and and have the NEW TAX money go directly past the teachers and into other projects and other people’s pockets.

    Voting NO on this bill, until they can come up with a bill that is fair to the working people and fair to the teachers needs to be cancelled. It could even be a planned scam to tax the people and use the money for projects outside of education making profits for those pockets unintended.

    This tax as written will force local businesses to raise their prices and costs to the consumer to maintain their meager family income.




  3. Charlie Chimknee October 3, 2018 7:55 am Reply

    “Most teachers at the rally declined to speak with The Garden Island on Tuesday.”

    Isn’t that a little odd that school teachers may not be informed enough about the bill to speak about the very bill that provides them a greater salary .

    Might that reflect on their ability to articulate their needs, perhaps because they too know the NEW TAX $$$ May not even reach them due to lobbyists and legislators diverting the money to their projects and personal districts.

    The teachers need better commitments as to their income, state and county workers keep getting salary increases, why not the teachers.

    Lobbying gets our tax monies, why don’t the teachers have their own lobbyists, or better more effective ones

    And why can’t teachers get raises from the existing tax dollars?



  4. Lance Owens October 3, 2018 9:50 am Reply

    As a parent that has a child in our public schools, I am all in support of our teachers and DOE, but this ConAm is a bad thing. every renter in Hawaii will have to absorb this tax, most likely 100% of it. I hope the teachers understand that if you are renting, you will be directly paying for this, probably more than any increase you will ever see in pay.
    Please take the time to read it, and understand that this will not put any NEW money in the DOE. It will put money in the DOE, but not new money.
    I think you probably understand this, but if not, it means that if they tax us a half billion dollars and put it in the DOE, they can just take a half billion dollars that came from another source and put it towards the Rail Project,

  5. curious dog October 3, 2018 10:07 am Reply

    If Hawai’i truly cares about its Keiki, our politicians will come up with creative funding sources that will ONLY go toward the schools, teachers, & children instead of allowing other entities to steal it away. Being voted the “worst in the country for teachers because of low salaries as well as the lack of both funding and support in the classroom” is a reflection of our leaders in charge.

    Somewhere there are either really stupid laws in place that allow for this OR our leaders just don’t care. Who’s responsible to change this & why are our teachers & children suffering?

    The Tourism Industry feeds off the beauty of this island & our local YOUNG population is taking the hit. It’s time to steal that money away from their Advertising Budget & put it into the schools so the children can flourish & the teachers can afford to have a living wage.

  6. Joe Public October 3, 2018 10:38 am Reply

    The monies that State takes from the TAT, all fines from tickets and other criminal proceedings that is placed in the State General Fund, use those funds, why tax us more? We already have to pay for a rail that outer island residents are not going to use, much less the folks on Oahu

  7. RG DeSoto October 3, 2018 2:32 pm Reply

    I found this below written by Zachary Garris who is a student at Wayne State University School of Law. It appears to aptly apply here with all the buzz regarding public school teachers’ pay.

    “It seems like the media will never stop promoting the myth that public school teachers are ‘underpaid.’ The most recent example is the front-page story in Time, ‘This Is What It’s Like to Be a Teacher in America.’

    Time tells of a woman who makes $55,000 per year teaching but works two other jobs in order to “pay the bills.” The article includes complaints about a teacher making almost $70,000 per year and even suggests that sexism is partly to blame for deficient pay because there are more women teachers than men.

    It is no surprise that the media promotes these sorts of stories. They want public elementary and secondary school teachers to make more money. Unfortunately, it is probably not for the reason they want us to think. For if the media cared about teachers as a class, they would also advocate for private school teachers (who make far less than public school teachers on average). There is something about public education that concerns them.

    The likely explanation for why the media constantly tell us that public school teachers should be paid more is that teachers unions and the media are political allies. It is no secret that the teachers unions have strong ties to the Democratic Party . And the mainstream media, including publications like Time, leans to the political left.

    What About Private School Teachers?

    Of course, the media can successfully push for greater pay for public school teachers because they are paid through taxation, while private school teacher pay is dictated by consumer demands. This is the difference between taxation and voluntary exchange. The amount of money raised by taxation can be almost unlimited regardless of the utility provided, while the government’s subsequent expenditure is arbitrary in both quality and quantity, without any connection to consumer valuation.

    This is the great irony of the claim that public school teachers are underpaid. By socializing education, state governments have removed the very market forces that determine wages. So there is no way to measure what a teacher actually ‘should’ be paid.

    There are private schools in America, but these schools are an imperfect measure of teacher pay because the government’s quasi-monopoly on education decreases demand for private education. Parents are much less likely to pay for private schools when ‘free’ public schools are readily available. Those who send their children to private schools effectively pay double tuition, as they must continue to pay property taxes for public schools that they do not use.
    Public School Teachers Are Overpaid

    However, a comparison between public and private schools suggests the opposite of what the media claims. It is not that public school teachers are paid too little. Rather, public school teachers are paid too much. It is quite certain that few kindergarten teachers would be making anywhere near $70,000 per year in a free market of education. Yet wealthy school districts can pay this much because the revenue from property taxes is so high.

    We can know that public school teachers on average make too much money because government employees in general make more than their private-employee counterparts . Government employees, including public school teachers, receive hefty pensions and insurance packages as part of their compensation. These benefits, as well as the favorable hours and extensive vacations, are often left out of discussions of teacher pay.

    The wage premium of public school teachers is primarily due to the government’s quasi-monopoly of education and the high revenue brought in by taxation. In addition, teachers unions have decreased competition and driven up wages by lobbying for unreasonable state certification standards (usually requiring a degree through a university’s college of education rather than mere proficiency in the subject taught).

    Of course, some teachers would be paid a high wage in a free market. However, this would be the best and most skilled teachers, not just those who teach for many years and receive automatic annual pay increases (a practice that was negotiated by unions). The current public school system actually discourages teacher development by rewarding the number of years worked instead of the individual’s performance.
    Only the Free Market Can Determine Wages

    The central point is that a school system that is exempt from market forces is unable to calculate the market value of schooling and the wages of the teachers who provide their services. Instead, teacher salaries are determined by government bureaucrats, and these vary widely by state and district.

    Public school teachers are not “underpaid.” No one knows what they should be paid because there is no free market to address this question. However, we can be sure that many public school teachers are earning far more than they would be if exposed to market demands, where schools seek to provide the best education for the lowest cost. Free choice in education would link a teacher’s pay to the value of his or her services, in contrast to the current coercive system that pays many teachers more than their productivity justifies.”

    RG DeSoto

  8. rk669 October 3, 2018 5:51 pm Reply

    Dumb and Dumber?

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