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Teach for America in Hawaii could lose funding

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:37 a.m. HST, Apr 09, 2014

Teach for America in Hawaii faces losing about $1 million in state funding, which the organization said would drastically hamper efforts to train and support teachers in struggling schools.

The organization has been in Hawaii since 2006, receiving $870,000 in 2012 and 2013 to help the state Department of Education fill a teacher shortage.

But its state funding was cut in half in the House version of the budget and in full by the Senate's $12 billion budget passed last week. Conference committee discussions on the budget could begin this week.

"It's a huge impact for us," said Ruth Bolan, managing director of external affairs for Teach for America in Hawaii. "It's a huge hit."

Hawaii has long relied on recruiting teachers from the mainland to work in schools that are difficult to staff. Teach for America in recent years has also been focusing on training teachers who are from Hawaii so that they return home and work in classrooms where their roots are.

The organization expected to bring about 100 teachers to Hawaii this year, but the funding could mean reducing that number in half in the future, Bolan said. The priority will be to keep those from Hawaii who make up about 40 percent of the corps, she said.

Teach for America is "a valuable component of our recruitment strategy as its teachers fill approximately 8 to 9 percent of job openings each year," state education department spokesman Alex Da Silva said in a statement. "TFA helps us recruit, train and certify teachers in remote locations and hard-to-fill subjects such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and special education."

Bolan said the cuts may force Teach for America to close its office on the Big Island, where schools are especially difficult to staff.

Campbell High School graduate Jester Galiza, 25, saw his full scholarship to Dartmouth University and the prospect of attending medical school as putting his hardscrabble Ewa Beach youth far behind him. But in his senior year of college, he realized, "I was losing part of my identity, that I was losing a part of who I was."

He saw Teach for America as a way to come home and make a difference. He taught math at Campbell for two years and is now based on the Big Island, where he serves as a coach for new Teach for America corps members across the island.

"My position probably would be non-existent," he said of the cuts.

Teach for America Hawaii matches public dollars 4-to-1 with private funding, and losing state funding could jeopardize that private support, Bolan said.

"It's not over yet," said state Sen. Jill Tokuda, a member of the Education Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. "I remain hopeful that we can do something."

While tough cuts have to be made, she called the organization a "good investment," that has helped create Hawaii-grown teachers. "It really has become a kamaaina come home kind of program," she said.

Even the teachers who aren't from Hawaii make valuable contributions, she said, noting that some of them put down roots here and take on leadership roles.

They also contribute to a "global education," she said.

"There is a benefit to giving our students exposure to teachers who are not necessarily from here," Tokuda said. "Part of that is exposing (students) to new cultures, new experiences. What better way to do that than with individuals who have lived in different places?"

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lowtone123 wrote:
Most of the recruits quit or go back to the mainland within a couple of years anyway. Where is the value in that?
on April 8,2014 | 12:03PM
1local wrote:
non-profits need to be self sustaining - the gravy train is gone. All future money to non-profits should be audited for results and need.
on April 8,2014 | 03:18PM
kaleo_1 wrote:
I'd rather have a non-profit who must compete for funding and prove what they say they will do and be held accountable than unions who get the King's Ransom for mediocre work
on April 8,2014 | 07:19PM
Grimbold wrote:
The value in that is that the world will know how junk part of the people here are, the reason for " schools that are difficult to staff.
on April 8,2014 | 06:05PM
localguy wrote:
More funds taken from good projects to support money pit rail, over paid HART bureaucrats living the cush life in their Honolulu penthouse, and to take care of Grabby Boy's lavish life style. And all we have to show for our money is stone henge monuments along the roads.
on April 8,2014 | 12:07PM
false wrote:
Yup, and was so pathetic to read Sundays news about sustaining the rail. Yesterday they had all the answers now they don't have a clue. Lot of people making money on this project and will continue to do so off the back of the taxpayer. The voters on Oahu really fell for that one (rail).
on April 8,2014 | 01:00PM
Barefootie wrote:
Your mixing apples and oranges there, Localguy! It's the State legislature that is cutting the funding for TFA, not the City and County of Honolulu, which is the one foisting the Transit rail system on it's citizens........
on April 8,2014 | 02:47PM
derek_millennium wrote:
I heard that maybe 5% or less of mainland teachers recruited to work here stay committed into a career in teaching in Hawaii. The other recruits go back to the mainland or pursue something else. This is only a band aid approach and all that money wasted.. NO value in that. Media should share that kind of data to the public without glamorizing this program as being sound.
on April 8,2014 | 12:18PM
juscasting wrote:
It's because the program is designed to recruit teachers to fill jobs in struggling schools, but what they really mean is less desireble ones like the Leeward Side and Military dominant ones. How can a teacher straight out of college with 4 years or more of student loans survive on Oahu with salary the our State pays them?
on April 8,2014 | 12:30PM
MexMe wrote:
Interesting that you should make such comments. I applied for TFA and was rejected. I live in Hawaii and my husband makes enough to support us but it is time for me to return to the workforce after raising my kids. I went to a very good university on the mainland and have worked with kids most of my adult life. I was told that I didn't "fit the profile". I researched TFA and learned that most of the selectees leave academia after their two year stint. It's just a way to pay off loans (which I didn't have) and pad a resume for bigger and better things. I actually wanted to teach and to teach in the disadvantaged public schools. I know the population, I am an Army veteran and I have the desire and the passion but, alas, I am also over fifty. Of course, many teachers burn out and leave teaching within ten years and I have, at the least, ten good years left. TFA is just another program to allow middle class students to feel better about themselves before they go on to work for mo' money, mo' money, MO' MONEY! It certainly isn't about getting teachers into disadvantaged classrooms.
on April 8,2014 | 06:36PM
Imua99 wrote:
only ok if we are taking the money and investing it in the 'growing our own teachers' programs that have been proposed in the past. We need to get education degree programs out to UH West O‘ahu and develop teachers from within communities who are invested in the long-term success of those communities, won't experience any kind of culture shock and will stay rooted in those schools beyond their service times. if no programs like that are being funded, then it's a shame!
on April 8,2014 | 12:43PM
diogenes wrote:
Hate to break it to you, but a lot of our UHWO graduates will be moving to the mainland along with the TFA folks. You have to have thick skin and a tight budget to be a teacher in HI. Teachers here get paid the same as anywhere else in the country--but at a lot higher cost of living. And they pay their full share of taxes, too.
on April 8,2014 | 06:11PM
false wrote:
Ige in the Senate is slashing everything he can get his hands on. I wonder if it has anything to do with running for Gov. LOL
on April 8,2014 | 12:56PM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
What? We have a shortage of teachers? By reading the blogs in the teacher evaluation article in today's paper, you'd think all those teacher bashers would be lining up to become teachers. So easy. Good pay. No accountability, and the list goes on. C'mon bashers, put your money where your mouth is. Be part of the solution.
on April 8,2014 | 01:00PM
LRC wrote:
Oh get real...GET RID OF THE TFAs IN HAWAII!!!! They come in for two years, take the positions for local teachers from our UH Campuses, get their free iPad and then get their student loans pay off...and then they go back to whatever career/major they came from. Leaving schools stranded!! GET RID OF THEM!!!!!
on April 8,2014 | 01:45PM
Barefootie wrote:
Don't have a Cow, LRC: the TFA teachers are not taking classroom space from local teachers, but you would not know that, stuck out in the fields sniffing cowpatties and mushrooms like you are! What is needed is a reality check on Parents, when and where it comes to their childrens education; which by the way, starts in the home, first and foremost! Where do you think all those kids learn their bad habits from, that they bring to school? At home they learn to swear, smoke, drink, learn about sex first hand, learn how to do drugs; instead of learning how to read, do math, or work on their spelling and reading comprehension...........Doh! Teaching in the classroom takes more than just aptitude, it takes passion, drive and a willingness to excel.........it's not just a Career, it's a lifestyle that keeps on giving!
on April 8,2014 | 02:54PM
HAJAA1 wrote:
Pfft. Like you speak for those of us in Hawaii. Sounds to me like you got your behind beat by someone in the industry and you live with sour grapes. Poor thing, you.
on April 8,2014 | 11:37PM
Bdpapa wrote:
LRC is pretty accurate. This is temporary for a large percentage of them. They do take some jobs but also fill the void of unwanted positions. Most of them, are doing this to move on to grad school without their prior loan obligations.
on April 9,2014 | 09:41AM
HAL9000 wrote:
Once again money leaves the teaching ranks and goes some where else under this governor Who keeps cutting education. But the doe will spend 2.4 million dollars to ask Students if their teacher like a them, tripod survey. Ha ha ha money well spent by The anti education governor Abercrombie. And that question could end up getting a Teacher reduced in pay or fired!
on April 8,2014 | 11:32PM
whs1966 wrote:
Teach for America has been a waste of money, and the state should never have funded it. At best it was a band-aide effort to fill teaching positions that reflect the lousy teacher pay, the high cost of college tuition, the stressful working conditions, and the DOE's magic bullet of the month management style. To those who who think teaching is such an easy, overpaid occupation: take 4 to 6 years out of your wage earning years to earn your teaching degree, accumulate tens of thousands of debt while doing so, be micro-managed by people who demand that you spend far too much time in non-productive report writing and meetings, all for meager pay. Go for it.
on April 9,2014 | 05:38AM
Catfish wrote:
TEACH for America believes in education equity for ALL .. and EVERY Child should have access to a QUALITY Education. Ask ANY Principal in the most challenged schools how TFA has helped their school and the kids ... that wb an informed / factual opinion. TFA spends many millions of non taxpayer dollars to support better education in Hawaii ... they have been a key player in improving test scores in our most needed schools and helping retaining our $75 million Race to Top grant. Hawaii is VERY Lucky to have TFA Choose to br here and our tax idollars have been a great investment in improving public education in our most needed schols and community. Seek the facts and see the results and the VALUE
on April 9,2014 | 08:18AM
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