Thursday, January 25, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, January 25, 2001

Hirono promotes education package

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Creating financial incentives to keep teachers in Hawaii and allowing state residents to donate $2 of their annual tax returns for upgrading schools are part of several legislative measures introduced by Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono yesterday.

Backed by members of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, Hirono said the measures are based on recommendations by the 17-member state chapter of the group, represented by the state Department of Education, Board of Education, HSTA, state House and Senate Education committees, Hawaii Teacher Standards Board and other organizations.

"Having a good teacher is the single most important factor in a student’s learning success," said Hirono, who chairs the NCTAF’s Hawaii group.

The bills would:

Shift responsibility for teacher licensing from the Department of Education to the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board.

Establish and continue professional development schools.

Create incentives for Hawaii’s public school teachers to obtain national teaching certification by reimbursing teachers the $2,500 application fee and awarding a $5,000 salary bonus for every year the certificate is valid.

Address the public school teacher shortage by allowing the Department of Education to rehire retired teachers without penalty to their retirement benefits.

Create a loan program for University of Hawaii education graduates that would forgive a portion of their education loans if they choose to teach in Hawaii’s public school system.

Allow residents to mark their state tax forms to contribute $2 to a revolving Hawaii school repair and maintenance fund. NCTAF estimates the contributions would generate more than $800,000 annually in repair and maintenance money.

If the education-related measures were passed, Hirono said they would take about two years to implement.

Under the continuing Slice Waste and Tape (SWAT) project to streamline government, Hirono will introduce a bill to repeal the Hawaii Medical Privacy Act.

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