Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Higher standards
put 1,453 substitute
teachers out of work


By Gary T. Kubota

More than 28 percent of the state's substitute teachers have been told they won't be able to work in the classroom next school year because they fail to meet the level of education required by the federal government.

State of Hawaii But a laborer's union spokesman said the substitutes were under the impression they would have until 2006 to get the required college degree, and that this recent notification by the state took them by surprise.

State Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen said 1,453 out of 5,095 substitute teachers will be affected by the new policy.

He said the remaining workforce should generally be enough to fill the demand for substitutes.

"It's the distribution that's the problem," he said.

Knudsen said the department expects it may have difficulty filling substitute positions in rural and remote areas, such as Leeward Oahu, Hana on Maui, Lanai and parts of the Big Island.

Knudsen said the new policy stems from the federal "No Child Left Behind Act" that set minimum requirements for substitute teachers.

He said substitute teachers are required to have a bachelor's degree under new state guidelines and that the state's failure to comply could lead to a loss of federal money.

Substitute teachers have until April 22 to renew their eligibility for on-call substitute teaching.

James Kuroiwa, an organizer for AFL-CIO Local 368, which is trying to organize substitute teachers into a bargaining unit, has asked state education officials what motivated this decision.

"This is completely contrary to the original letter," he said.

Kuroiwa said some substitutes have signed up for college courses, anticipating the policy change in 2006.

Janine Tannehill, who sometimes teaches as a substitute at Hauula Elementary School, said she's attending college and plans to get her bachelor's degree by 2006.

Tannehill, who earns about $119 a day without benefits as a substitute, said she's upset at the change in dates.

"I just think you just can't treat people like that," she said. "That doesn't seem right or fair. We have a lot of heart for what we do."

Knudsen said state education officials did say if given a waiver, they may be allowed to continue the former policy until 2006. But the state did not get the waiver.

He said that in an Oct. 16 communication, the department told substitutes that those without college degrees may be affected.

Waianae High School Principal JoAnn Kumasaka said her school has difficulty finding substitutes because of its location and doesn't have as large a pool of people with bachelor's degrees as metropolitan areas.

"We're pretty far removed from having that kind of a population at this point," she said.

Kumasaka said even without a bachelor's degree, some of the substitutes are doing a "wonderful" job.

Kumasaka said sometimes, upward of 20 to 25 teachers at her school require substitutes because of illness and attendance at professional training seminars.

"If we have a shortage, we may have to go in for an exception," she said.

State Department of Education

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --