Please Save Teacher Shortage Differentials
Testimony on GBM Action Item G: Board Action on temporary discontinuance of extra compensation for classroom teachers in special education, hard-to-staff geographical locations, and Hawaiian language immersion programs for the 2020-2021 school year.
Hawai'i's teachers have been working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. They've helped their students continue to learn, even in the face of impossible odds. Eliminating teacher shortage differentials at this time would be a slap in the face of our classroom leaders. We're already going to have a difficult time recruiting and retaining teachers because of health concerns, our state's quarantine requirements, and the looming threat of furloughs. Reducing bonuses for teachers willing to work in high-needs areas would make that situation much worse. According to HIDOE data, the number of teachers transferring into special education positions for the upcoming 2020–21 school year increased by 29 percent, while the number of teachers who left SPED positions decreased by 57 percent. Similarly, nearly twice as many educators transferred into hard-to-staff schools for the upcoming school year as compared to last year, while the differentials led to a 41 percent decrease in those leaving hard-to-staff locations. In other words, the differentials worked. Our teacher shortage already stands at over 1,000 teachers each year. We could easily see that number double or triple because of the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Now is not the time to cut teacher pay, which will ultimately endanger the quality of our children's education. Instead, we should invest in our teachers, upon whom our keiki's future depends.
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