For nearly two years, COVID-19 has been a focus for state lawmakers, dictating what policies and efforts are addressed. While the impacts of COVID may continue to be a focus for the legislature, there is optimism lawmakers will address prolonged issues
Especially in education.
“Some of the issues that we’ve trying for in the past, definitely fell by the wayside when the coronavirus pandemic first came,” said Osa Tui, Jr., president of the Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association.
“Now the coffers are little fuller than they were in the past. So we’re hopeful that there will not be the challenges that we’ve had in the past to get some of our priorities taken care of.”
Tui says the union is focusing on improving the recruitment and retention of teachers by pursuing efforts in affordable housing and teacher pay.
“One thing we’re trying to address is what we call ‘compression.’ Our teachers for many years did not get to move up the salary schedule based on their years of service.”
Tui says teachers who have taught for 20 or more years are making the same amount as teachers with less seniority.
Last week, the Hawaiʻi Department of Education discussed its budget request of $270 million for the upcoming session.
One group, HawaiiKidsCAN, is focusing on allowing and expanding career readiness opportunities for students.
The nonprofit’s executive director, David Sun-Miyashiro, says his organization is looking to build off the successful passage of Senate Bill 516 in the last session. The bill focuses on career readiness programs at various high schools, in order to encourage innovative programs to get students ready for life after school.