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Friday, April 6, 2012
Okabe to Obama: Abercrombie is 'Difficult'
By News Release @ 3:55 PM :: 6647 Views :: Energy, Environment


Full Text Okabe Letter to Obama April 3: Abercrombie is Difficult, Erratic

April 3, 2012

President Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to share directly with you the status of Hawaii's progress in our efforts to "win" your Race to the Top.

Hawaii's students and teachers need to win that race.

Our union's negotiations with Governor Abercrombie have been difficult. There are times when the Governor says publicly that the remaining issues should be resolved at the collective bargaining table. At other times, he states that he will mandate a settlement and legislate outstanding issues.

We have not lost hope. We do believe in change. We share your belief in the positive power of collective bargaining - renewed negotiations are the best path forward and in the best interest of Hawaii's students.

Hawaii is not Wisconsin. Our traditions are different. Please advise Secretary Duncan that the Hawaii State Teachers Association is willing to negotiate any of the issues that put Hawaii at "high risk."

Please accept our best wishes in your work to move our nation forward.

Wil Okabe, HSTA President



* * * * *

Message to HSTA Union members April 4:

Aloha Colleague,

We received disturbing news that at 2 am this morning, a group of legislators passed out a teacher evaluation bill that would effectively strip teachers of the collective bargaining rights currently provided by law. According to a number of sources, this legislation would give the BOE unilateral rights to make changes to our contract without bargaining. This legislation is eerily similar to what was done to teachers in Wisconsin just one year ago.

That this action takes place on the eve of our teacher team returning to the bargaining table with the BOE and the Governor tomorrow is of great concern because it may have a chilling effect on the spirit of negotiations and once again send a message that teachers do not deserve the respect that fair collective bargaining laws provide.


We are asking legislators to please let us negotiate, don't legislate this away from us. We are asking our teachers and our community members to please contact your legislators and send them the same message. Negotiate--don' t legislate, don't mandate, don't negate--the rights of Hawaii's teachers.

I will be wearing RED tomorrow to support teachers. Please wear red or your HSTA shirt to show your support.

Contact Your Representative

Contact Your Senator

Contact the Chair of the House Education Committee, Representative Roy Takumi

Contact the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senator Jill Tokuda


Wil Okabe


* * * * *

SA: HSTA objects to bill requiring evaluations

After (a paltry 2 hours of) negotiations wrapped up Thursday, Okabe (desperate to make it look good) described the talks as “cordial” and said future dates for bargaining have been set.

The legislative push to write into law a requirement that the Department of Education institute a performance management system for teachers has been among the most hotly debated education issues this session.

Senate Bill 2789 passed the House Finance Committee early Wednesday and must be taken up by the full House before it goes before a House-Senate conference committee.

The bill would require teachers be evaluated based in part on the academic growth of their students, and directs the department to use the evaluations in high-stakes decisions, such as tenure.

Lawmakers and the department say the measure doesn’t take away any rights and ensures teachers will be evaluated fairly and entitled to due process.

State Rep. Roy Takumi, chairman of the House Education Committee, said he was “puzzled” by the union’s latest concerns about the bill.

He said the newest version, with amendments added early Wednesday, would essentially tweak existing law to give the Board of Education authority to establish the new evaluation program for teachers, determining how much of the evaluations would be based on student growth and what range of ratings teachers could receive. Current law gives the department that authority….

Justin Hughey, a special-education teacher at King Kamehameha III Elementary on Maui, said there is considerable concern among teachers about the new evaluation system and legislative moves to write performance management into law.

He said much of the language in Senate Bill 2789 is “what the teachers voted down.” (So Okabe proposed 'Wisconsin-style' reforms to his own membership?)

“The message is, ‘You don’t like it? Tough,’” he said.

Reality: Faking it for the Feds, Abercrombie Prepares to Impose Another ‘Last, Best, and Final Offer’ on HSTA

Ed Week: HSTA Contract: Little Room for Error, Lots of Missing Details

Report: HSTA not to Blame for All Delays in Race to the Top


AP: Teachers concerned about evaluations bill

CB: Timing Is Everything: Hawaii Teacher Contract Talks Resume


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