Teacher's union details concerns about Lingle's furlough plan
By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Education Writer
The Hawaii State Teachers Association said today it has “major concerns” about Gov. Linda Lingle’s plan to restore furlough days, which they say results in teachers giving up all of their planning time and pares back services to public school students.
The comments came from union officials a day after meeting with Lingle’s staff and officials from the state’s education department. Union officials specifically expressed concern about a portion of Lingle’s plan that calls for teachers to forego 15 planning days between January 2010 and June 2011.
They say there aren’t enough non-classroom days to add up to 15, and the proposal results in teachers giving up all of the time they spend planning lessons, collaborating together, and taking professional development workshops.
“Teachers need an opportunity to have a dialog with each other. Some schools are in corrective action. They have alternative providers ... who come into the school to provide teaching strategies. When are they going to have the opportunity to have that training?” said Wil Okabe, HSTA president. “Clearly, by giving them up, it would be a disservice to the students. This is about the quality of education. It’s not about money.”
Union officials also said the governor led the public to believe that the furlough days would be restored to full school days, with complete services offered. To the contrary, they say the governor’s plan would only call back “essential” teachers, and would not cover the salaries of health aides, educational assistants, office staff, security guards or cafeteria workers.
Both Linda Smith, the governor’s senior policy advisor, and Russell Pang, spokesman for the governor, did not respond to requests for comment.
Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto also declined comment for this story.