Saturday, February 3, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, February 3, 2001

Cayetano accuses teachers of holding new textbooks 'hostage'

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief

Gov. Ben Cayetano accused teachers yesterday of holding hostage his requests for additional money for new school textbooks and computers until the teachers get a raise, and warned them not to try it.

"No textbooks, no contract, and that’s the position that this administration is going to take," Cayetano said. "Textbooks and computers are very basic to learning. Everybody should understand that, and I think it’s wrong for educators to hold hostage these basic tools for learning so they can get more pay."

Karen Ginoza, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said the teachers’ union expressed concerns about bills heard last week in the House Education Committee to boost spending for computers and supplies.

But she said the union didn’t oppose the bills, and isn’t trying to block Cayetano’s requests or hold them "hostage."

The bills propose the state spend an extra $6 million for instructional materials, $7 million for textbooks, and $27.5 million for new computers for schools.

At the hearing, Ginoza testified that "It is hard to learn without books and supplies. It is even harder to learn without teachers."

She testified the state already faces a teacher shortage, and said the shortage will become worse as hundreds of teachers retire in the next few years.

"We cannot keep or attract qualified teachers unless we offer salaries that are competitive with other states and professions," she testified.

What that means, Ginoza said, is "We’d gladly accept the additional help ... but first we really need the qualified teachers in the classrooms."

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