Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, joined the COVID-19 Care Conversation to talk about the state of education from the perspective of Hawaii public school teachers.
Rosenlee said that Hawaii teachers have been doing the best they can. The crisis happened suddenly leaving teachers unprepared for distance learning. For many teachers, the current situation has required them to do more work than ever before. Educators have had to modify lessons for distance learning while also accommodating students who do not have access to a computer or wifi, often resulting in double the work.
“Schools are not closed. Students and teachers are still working. The physical buildings are closed, but school is not closed,” he said.
Among the state’s many teachers, Rosenlee said special education teachers are experiencing the most challenges as every student has their own individual needs, some of which cannot be met through distance learning.
While the DOE has said that it is continuing to proceed with summer school plans, it is unclear what “school” will look like in the coming months. Rosenlee expressed concern about resuming in-classroom teaching and the ability to both manage and practice safe social distancing. He hopes that the summer will provide the time needed to determine the best course of action.
Rosenlee also shared that this crisis has brought more attention to existing underlying problems in schools with regards to class size, lack of resources, teacher pay, and the differences between affluent and high poverty communities in terms of access to resources and student participation.
Rosenlee expressed gratitude for the community support received when teacher pay cuts were being considered by the state. His concern is that a pay cut coupled with the existing shortage of teachers in Hawaii, could lead to not enough teachers when schools resume.
“I would really like to say thank you to the parents and students who are trying hard to make the best of the situation,” he said.
Watch here and comment through our Facebook page. Be sure to join us Friday when Nick Redding of the Hawaii Data Collaborative will be our guest.
The COVID-19 Care Conversation, sponsored by Hawai’i Executive Collaborative, airs live every weekday at 10:30 a.m. on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Yunji de Nies and Ryan Kalei Tsuji discuss the latest news, resources and community concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in Hawaii.