STATEMENT ON STATUS OF DISCUSSIONS TO RETURN CHILDREN TO THE CLASSROOM
HONOLULU – The following statement was released today by Linda Smith, senior policy advisor and Marie Laderta, director of human resources development:
“Governor Linda Lingle recently offered a plan to reopen Hawai‘i’s public schools on what has become known as ‘Furlough Fridays’.
“It is unfortunate that the Hawai‘i State Teacher’s Association has not seized this opportunity by allowing a vote on the agreement that will bring children back to school.
“The community supports reopening classes on 27 Fridays that would otherwise be closed. The Legislature has expressed its support for reopening the schools.
“National education officials also support restoring the number of days kids attend class. Yet almost three weeks since the plan was announced, we are still in lengthy and unproductive discussions with the State Teachers union.
“It is disappointing that the next discussions aren’t scheduled again until December 15th and 16th. This delay will seriously impact the possibility of teachers voting on the contract changes and the convening of a special session to enact the necessary legislation to use the State’s Rainy Day Fund. This will result in further loss of classroom time in the month of January.
“The Governor’s plan clearly recognized that shared sacrifice is necessary to bring children back to school. The State has pledged its willingness to provide up to $50 million in State funds to pay teachers for 12 more days of instruction between now and June 2011. The teachers are being asked to trade some of the time when students are not in school but they are on campus toward the restoration of furlough Fridays. Parents have sacrificed by accepting the loss of seven days of instruction for their children and the Department of Education will have to absorb incidental costs of reopening of its schools within its existing budget.
“It is time for the teachers union to recognize and accept the fact that if the education of our children is a priority, we can restore 27 days of classroom time but only if they are willing to share in this sacrifice.
“The State management team is prepared to meet daily, evenings and over the weekend if necessary to answer any remaining questions union leaders may have. There is nothing more important right now than our committed effort to resolving this matter. We are prepared to make time, we hope the HSTA feels the same.
“We therefore strongly urge the HSTA to meet with us, complete the discussions, call for a vote by their membership, and get on with the plan to reopen classrooms so our children can receive the education they deserve.
“Our students want to learn and it is our obligation to give them the support they and their parents are requesting, and that can only happen if we are able to enact the Governor’s plan.”
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PRECISELY AS PREDICTED:
Furlough negotiations: $50M ransom offered, but unions balk at releasing hostages
Furloughs vs Layoffs: The union no-solution strategy