by Andrew Walden
In the midst of the back and forth between the HSTA membership and the Abercrombie administration—with HSTA President Wil Okabe conveniently ensconced in Chicago--two ugly realities have been exposed to the light of day-- and gone almost entirely unnoticed.
The Abercrombie administration’s “last, best, and final” offer to the Teachers Union--which has now been unilaterally imposed--says nothing about implementing the 180-day school year mandated under Act 167 of 2010 and then watered down by Act 52 of 2011.
The State’s contract also says nothing about implementing anything even vaguely resembling the teacher accountability requirements mandated by Race To The Top. Apparently the $75M RTTT grant to the DoE is expendable.
A June 19 Star-Advertiser article characterized “union agreements” as one of the “biggest challenges” facing the DoE as it purports to be attempting to meet RTTT requirements in order to grab $75M in federal RTTT money.
A June 22 news release from the Abercrombie Administration indicated that HSTA representatives did not participate in the recent round of RTTT meetings with US DoE officials in Hawaii.
Here are the main points in the Abercrombie administration’s last, best, and final offer, as summarized by the Star-Advertiser June 28:
- Teachers would take a 1.5 percent pay reduction, but that only goes part-way toward Abercrombie’s goal of 5 percent labor savings from state departments.
- The rest of the 5 percent savings would be achieved through converting non-instructional days to unpaid leave days. According to sources, this means 71⁄2 days for teachers on a nine-month calendar and nine days for those teaching year-round.
- The employee contribution toward health benefits would increase to a 50-50 split with the employer, up from the 40 percent teachers’ pay now.
- Teachers’ time for classroom preparation during the regular workweek would increase.
This means that neither the Abercrombie administration nor the HSTA is attempting to negotiate a contract which complies with either of the two most significant education reform efforts currently under way. The Star-Advertiser continues:
Some things still need to be ironed out — it’s unclear how the state will be able to square this settlement with the state mandate for a 180-day academic year, for example.
All the final sellout gets from the Star-Advertiser -- “some things still need to be ironed out???”
The HSTA leadership has been hostile to the 180 day law from the beginning. As HB 945 was debated in Conference Committee this April, the HSTA leadership sent out this email to its membership:
"We have just been blindsided by Senator Jill Tokuda. She is amending the bill that delayed implementation of Act 167. Her amendment means Act 167 will begin next school year and may add two additional instructional days and/or more instructional hours to the school calendar. The implication is that this comes without compensation."
Without compensation? At the time, HSTA was in the midst of contract negotiations. It was plainly false to claim that the 180 days “come without compensation”—unless negotiations as far back as April were predicated on the 180-day law not becoming reality.
During the Legislative session, opponents of the 180 day law within Governor Abercrombie’s DoE administration were claiming that the additional instructional time would cost $55M per year. Like the 180-day law, the State budget was then being negotiated in Conference Committee. An earmarked $55M was not included in the DoE budget, nor did the Legislature instruct the DoE to reduce spending on “waste, fraud, and corruption” by $55M and spend it on teacher salaries instead.
If the RTTT funds are lost due to the HSTA leadership’s continued insistence on treating teachers like wage slaves instead of accountable, value-added professionals, the shortfall would be $130M.
And then there is this from the Star-Advertiser:
In the final deal, some things need to be sacrosanct — and here’s one: Matayoshi made a firm commitment in her statement that there would be “no reduction in instructional days.” That pledge must be kept; otherwise, the state will be looking at essentially a return to school furloughs that reduce classroom time.
Ironically that is how the furlough debacle got started in the first place. After Governor Lingle signed off on furlough days with the understanding that they would not be on instructional days, the criminals at the helm of the DoE/BoE/HSTA decided that furloughs would all be on instructional days. Why? To reduce Lingle’s popularity and get Abercrombie elected. A gaggle of Manoa Liberals working on behalf of the Abercrombie campaign then occupied the Governor’s office to help the media blame Lingle for the DoE/BoE/HSTA’s crime.
And now, having achieved the goal, the DoE is warned that Abercrombie’s furlough days must not be instructional days—and the 180 day law dies without notice.
The loss of those legally mandated 180 days is tantamount to furlough days on instructional days.