POSTED: 11:16 a.m. HST, Feb 16, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 12:02 p.m. HST, Feb 16, 2014
The Hawaii State Teachers Association on Sunday endorsed state Sen. David Ige in the Democratic primary for governor over Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
The 13,500 member teachers union described Ige as a strong supporter of public education and public school teachers.
The teachers union had endorsed Abercrombie in 2010.
Abercrombie and the union clashed in 2011 when the governor imposed the state's last, best and final contract offer that included a 5 percent pay cut after negotiations with the union had broken down. The union unsuccessfully sought to overturn the governor's decision in court.
Last year, the teachers union and the state agreed on a four-year contract that includes pay raises.
The teachers union has opposed Abercrombie's call for a constitutional amendment that would allow public money to be spent on private preschool, which is part of the governor's early education initiative. The union believes that preschool should be offered at public schools.
"Our selection was made because of his record as a senator and as a representative in this state," Wil Okabe, the president of the teachers union, said of Ige at a news conference at the HSTA's Red Hill headquarters.
"I think that David Ige's record stands for itself. He has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to the professionals at the school level and the charge to allocate funds that go directly to schools and the classroom."
Ige, the chairman of the Senate Ways and Committee, said he was honored to receive the endorsement.
"As a graduate of Pearl City High School, I know firsthand that the key to improving student learning is the teacher in the classroom," he said.