Hawaii teachers in schools targeted by Race to the Top reforms approved an agreement for extended learning time, a key element of a $75 million grant that the U.S. Department of Education has said is at risk of being lost.
The Hawaii State Teachers Association said 80 percent of teachers in Waianae and Nanakuli on Oahu and Kau, Keaau and Pahoa on the Big Island, voted in favor of the agreement Monday. The schools are in low-income, low-performing zones that would be most affected by Race to the Top reforms. Teachers at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind in Honolulu were also included in the vote.
The plan calls for one hour more per day, Monday through Thursday, and 12 additional days of teacher training. That would result in about 18 percent more in compensation for the extra time, union officials said.
"The extended learning time agreement in our zone schools is a win for students who will get much needed additional learning time, while fairly compensating teachers for their work," said Wil Okabe, union president.
"We believe this investment will result in a better work environment, greater levels of job satisfaction, superior teacher and principal retention rates, and, most of all, significantly improved student achievement in the zones and at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind," said Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe.
The U.S. Department of Education told the state in December it hadn’t made acceptable progress on the comprehensive school reform plan that won Hawaii a four-year, $75 million grant. They warned Hawaii could lose the money if progress isn’t made. Federal officials will visit the islands next month.
The union reached the tentative agreement for zones after the general union membership last month voted down a proposed contract that would have removed a major stumbling block in delivering on promised reforms. The deal would have included moving toward a performance-based compensation system. If the contract was ratified, a labor dispute against the state would have been dropped and negotiations could have started on promised reforms.
The union said it continues to collect feedback from teachers on a collective bargaining agreement settlement.