A teacher shortage crisis and it's getting worse

KITV - April 6, 2018
Tesia Worley

Public schools in Hawaii are still plagued by a shortage of teachers.

Lawmakers want people who live here and will stay here. They want teachers who'll be able to bond with students.

Lawmakers are also willing to pay for qualified Hawaii residents to get their teaching degrees.

They're pitching an initiative called the Hawaii Teacher Stipend Program and it's already passed through both the House and Senate.

"It is this chronic problem that's just getting worse," said Corey Rosenlee, HSTA President.

State lawmakers are trying to help solve Hawaii's teacher shortage problem.

"We got to be doing everything we can to help those who want to become teachers," said Sen. Mike Gabbard, (D) Kapolei, Waipahu.

 A proposed Hawaii Teacher Stipend Program is close to becoming a reality.

Senator Michelle Kidani introduced the bill following up on a 2017 initiative to recruit Hawaii educators. 35 people are already in the process of completing last year's Grow Your Own Program.

Those in it include substitute teachers, assistants and emergency hires already in the DOE system.

This year's potential program would be open to anyone with a bachelors degree.

"It would be a free ride for the teachers to go back to school, it pays their tuition. It also pays for air travel for students from the neighbor islands to come and do the face to face class time that's required, " commented Sen. Michelle Kidani, representing Mililani, Waikele, Royal Kunia.

 According to the HSTA, the DOE has more than 1,000 teaching positions either vacant of filled by emergency hires. It says rural areas face even more of a challenge.

The HSTA explained that last year there were 19 Special Education positions open in Wai'anae and Nanakuli, just one ended up being filled.

The incentive program takes three semesters to complete, and it's offered by the University of Hawaii. With most classes offered online and some class time on it's Manoa campus.

After graduation, students would have to teach in Hawaii's public school system for five consecutive years.

"This is something both houses agree on, the senate and the house agree we need more teachers we need to keep them here incentive them to stay and become a part of our system," said Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, representing Waikiki, Ala Moana, Mo'ili'ili.

 The bill is just a conference away from making it to the Governor's office for his signature.

Island News was told every party that needs to be involved to make this pass is in favor of it.