Hawaii Teachers Demand Better Pay

Ronald Crivello-Kahihikolo

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In Honolulu, Oahu, teachers marched into the Hawaii State Capitol building on February 13. The crowd grew steadily, and in just a few minutes, over a thousand teachers had flooded the building. Why? They were demanding better pay, and according to the Hawaii State Teacher’s Association’s president, insufficient funding is the primary reason in the teacher shortage, and Hawaii teachers are proven to be paid much less than those on the mainland.

Hawaii has one of the highest costs of living in the United States, with $742,000 being about the average cost for a home in Honolulu. Everything costs more in Hawaii, and unlike most states like California, there’s even a tax on food. The cost is coined as “the price for paradise,” with residents paying elevated costs because of tourism and shipping. What counts as a comfortable, middle-class salary qualifies families for government assistance and low-end living.

Teachers are also pushing to have more funding for public schools. Governor Brian Ige revealed plans to cut funding to public school in February 2017, which means losing more than $12 million dollars. Schools across the state are already straggling when it comes to funding and finding means to pay for new ways to educate students and take care of them while they’re on campus.

Better funding would give schools the opportunity to buy new computers and portable devices to be had around campus, as well as money for fans and air conditioning for the days the classroom feels just too hot. Last year, there were cases of students passing out from heat stroke because of rising temperatures. Funding also promotes an art culture to grow in sports-focused schools, purchasing art supplies and musical instruments that students can take advantage of.

Teachers spend extra time in the classroom to give students the help that they need. Many are completely devoted to making sure that the kids that go in and out of their classroom have the option to make the best of their education and use the resources around them. Meanwhile, many teachers are taking extra work home with them, grading papers and building their curriculum.

Standing in front of the whiteboard and inside our classrooms are the people who are forming and guiding the next generation. Because of these teachers, growing kids can learn about the world around them, find their passions, and enter the real world prepared. If anyone deserves better pay, it’s the teachers, because they’re the ones changing the world. One kid at a time.

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