Monday, February 12, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, February 12, 2001

Island Voices
Balance must be restored to teaching

By Edward A. Lapenas
Public school teacher on Maui

The wage increase proposed by the Hawaii State Teacher’s Association should be perceived as a means to help bring equilibrium to a system in a profound state of imbalance.

Our system of public education, like any other system, has three primary components: input, processing and output. Input involves altering raw materials with the intent of increasing their value. Processing includes all the elements required to ensure the desired output or finished product.

If any component of the system experiences an increase, the system must be returned to a state of equilibrium by adjusting the remaining components. Without such adjustments, the remaining components become overburdened and the entire system is subject to failure.

Historically, the responsibility for the educational processing of our children has been shared by all members of the community, with teachers assuming the primary role of academic instructor. Times have changed.

The present structure of our society forces today’s parents to assume a set of diverse and increasingly unfamiliar roles. Parents facing the challenges of managing single-parent households, providing care for extended families, holding down multiple jobs and complying with workplace demands for higher education have become less involved in their children’s education. These societal changes have irreversibly altered both the input and processing components of our education system.

The Department of Education (system manager) has failed to make the necessary incremental adjustments in the processing component to adjust for these changes and keep the education system in balance.

The system managers expect improvements in output (student performance) and processing (teacher accountability) while failing to acknowledge that the state’s teachers are the ones who have unflinchingly adopted the roles vacated by hard-working parents.

Although the processing component is out of balance, it’s the teachers who have prevented the education system from failing.

Teachers are simply asking for fair compensation for the duties they perform.

Please ask the governor to help balance the system and acknowledge teachers for their boundless efforts in maintaining the stability of our education system in Hawaii by approving the proposed pay raise.

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