Vocal opponents see ‘good start’ in latest teacher agreement; ratification vote in two weeks

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Mar 25 2013 07:28:00 PM HST

A tentative contract agreement has been reached between the HSTA and the state capitol. Now, it's up to more than 13,000 teachers to close the deal.

HONOLULU -

“I think that was the moment when we decided we needed to do something to change the dynamic,” said Campbell High School Teacher Coree Rosenlee.

He spearheaded the Work to the Rules protests, saying it took four years of pay cuts and two imposed contracts for scores of teachers to take to the streets and to the capitol to demand a better contract.

“That had a very big impact on trying to settle a contract,” said Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe.

“We have a contract that is right, and fair, and just,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The governor announced the tentative deal Sunday night including:

-A 3-percent pay increase above the restored 5-percent cuts.

-And for most teachers, 3.2-percent more in subsequent years.

-Both HSTA members and the state will have input in that teacher evaluation system.

Informational meetings begin Monday at schools around the state where a group of educators will be talking to teachers about the contract and get as much information out there as possible before a ratification vote on April 17.

“I want you to imagine you are a dentist and your pay is determined by how many of your patient's flossed,” said Rosenlee.

Rosenlee said he's still concerned about how teachers will be evaluated; saying part of the equation will be based on factors that are out of teacher's control.

Still, Rosenlee said he plans to vote ‘yes’ on the new tentative agreement.

“It sends a very strong message not only in Hawaii, but nationwide, that HSTA, along with the state of Hawaii, want to put education at the forefront of student learning,” said Okabe.

“It's a good start and we're moving in the right direction. That will improve things, but I want everyone to be aware there is still a lot of work that needs to be done,” said Rosenlee.

If teachers ratify the contract on April 17, a teacher evaluation pilot program will be expanded to all Hawaii schools on July 1.

It will then be tied to teacher pay in 2014.

Also, a new commission will study the difference between teacher's pay here and that of comparable districts on the mainland to get a better idea on what Hawaii teachers should be getting paid. 

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