Saturday, February 10, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, February 10, 2001

Cayetano proposal may offer teachers raises for certification

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief

The state likely will submit a new contract proposal to the teachers union next week that will offer higher pay for teachers who obtain national certification, Gov. Ben Cayetano said.

"We’re just refining the numbers," Cayetano said yesterday. "I’m actually very, very excited about what we’re proposing, because if I was a younger teacher, I’d be pleased.... It will provide a great deal of incentives for teachers to advance, and when they advance they will be compensated."

Cayetano said the initial proposal is to bump teachers who have the desired national certification up three classes, or pay increments.

"What we’re saying is, you’ve been in five or six years, you’re good enough to take the test and pass it, then the system should allow you to be compensated, even if that means you bypass teachers with greater seniority," the governor said.

Joan Lee Husted, executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said the union already has a tentative agreement to give $5,000 bonuses to nationally certified teachers.

She said Cayetano seems to be talking about a more formal proposal, and "we’ll need to take a look at it."

There are more than 9,300 certified teachers nationally, but only five in Hawaii. Teachers say the application process is rigorous, with one Isle teacher saying she invested more than 200 hours in the process. Teachers must submit an extensive portfolio and pass four two-hour exams to demonstrate their knowledge, teaching ability and skills.

Cayetano repeated his position that the state is willing to give sizable raises to starting teachers and those who specialize in shortage areas, such as math and science, but that it won’t agree to the same raises for all teachers.

He has said the state is willing to boost starting pay for teachers from $29,000 to about $36,000.

The HSTA is seeking a 22 percent pay increase over four years. In an earlier offer, the state proposed raises averaging 9 percent over four years. The two sides are in a cooling-off period that ends March 17.

Teacher salaries range from $29,000 to $58,000.

The teachers staged a rally Thursday that was attended by more than 5,000 people, but Cayetano said the demonstration didn’t change much.

"I thought it was an impressive display of unity, but that’s about it. The message is clear, and I’ve been hearing that message for a very long time. I hope that they will reflect and hear our message, and that is that we cannot afford or come close to what it is that they want," he said.

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