STATEMENT ON RETURNING 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 has offered a viable compromise solution for the restoration of the 27 days currently slated to be furlough Fridays that will enable our children to return to school. To encourage the teachers to return to class, the Governor has offered to restore their salaries by 2.8 percent through the use of up to $50 million from the State Rainy Day Fund.
“Regrettably, the seven-member HSTA Bargaining Committee continues to stand in the way of over 170,000 children returning to class. Despite extensive discussions on a solution that has been embraced by the Legislature, the Administration, the DOE, and the BOE, the HSTA has failed to seize this opportunity to solve the furlough Friday issue.
“HSTA has falsely claimed that the Administration is removing teacher planning days. This is not true. The joint DOE/BOE Administration bargaining team has made it clear that teachers can retain all of their planning days, if they so desire. We are simply asking them to come back into the classroom for 27 days and allow students to learn.
“We commend the schools that have already taken steps to restore some classroom time on their own. And we particularly commend those schools, such as some public charter schools, that decided not to penalize the children and are not taking furlough Fridays.
“It is particularly unfortunate and very discouraging that in the most recent round of discussions, the HSTA has side-stepped the primary issue by proposing to reopen portions of the original contract unrelated to the furlough issue and is seeking changes that would compromise the safety of the children and limit their after-school programs. The HSTA is now saying they do not want teachers to participate in campus and playground supervision responsibilities during lunch hours. And they no longer want teachers to voluntarily participate in school-related activities after the regular school day – such as glee club, debate team, robotics, or prom night.
“At this point, the ability to resolve the furlough situation rests squarely on the shoulders of the HSTA leadership. We urge them to accept the adjustments that will remove the 27 furlough days so that children can return to their regular classroom schedule beginning in January 2010. If they will say ‘yes’ the DOE/BOE/Administration will immediately work to obtain Legislative enactment of the money for the teacher salary increases from the Rainy Day Fund.”