Isle teachers deserve praise for sacrifice


POSTED: Saturday, October 10, 2009

In this bad economy, nearly everyone has had to make tough choices.

As the parent of two public school children, I want to thank the public school teachers for voting to take a pay cut.

Critics and politicians miss the true meaning of what an overwhelming number of teachers decided to do in voting for their new contract and voluntarily taking furlough days.

Teachers voted to save their profession, they voted to save the families of younger teachers, and they voted in significant numbers for sacrifice.

Teachers voted to save the future of their profession. It takes about three to five years for teachers to gain enough experience to be comfortable, competent and confident in the classroom.

The three-to-five-year benchmark also separates those individuals who decide to commit their lives to the teaching profession from those who decide teaching is not for them. So the new teachers are critical to the profession.

By teachers voting down the contract, the state Department of Education would be forced to lay off teachers. Layoffs would impact teachers starting their careers in that critical three-to-five-year range.

Forcing the DOE to lay off younger teachers would decimate the ranks of the up-and-coming teachers and negatively affect teacher competency in the classroom.

Layoffs would also force children into classes with larger numbers of students.

What I see are teachers willing to sacrifice their own pay so that other teachers can still have a job and gain the crucial experience necessary to be a good teacher.

No one forced the teachers to vote for sacrifice. Ben Cayetano was the last governor who tried to force the teachers to take less than they deserved and that resulted in a strike that lasted several weeks.

So I want to thank all of the teachers who voted for the pay cut, because I recognize their sacrifice and hardship it will cause them and their families.

As a parent, the furloughs will impact my family, but I am grateful and appreciate what teachers have done.

When our economy gets better and if the next governor does not recognize their sacrifice in the next round of contract talks and properly reward them for thinking of others first instead of their wallets, I will pick up a picket sign and stand with them at the next strike.


Ted H. S. Hong is an attorney who lives in Hilo.