Isle teachers payBy Crystal Kua
Hawaii is ranked 25th in a list of average teacher salaries among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a survey released today by the American Federation of Teachers.
Hawaii's average teacher salary of $36,598 during the 1997-98 school year ranks below the national average of $39,347, the survey said.
The Hawaii State Teachers Association, the union that represents the state's 12,000 public school teachers, is affiliated with the National Education Association and not with the AFT.
HSTA spokeswoman Danielle Lum said she has not seen the AFT's salary rankings released today but the AFT's survey generally factors in the cost-of-living of the state, which gives a more realistic value of teacher pay. "We've been trying to get NEA to do that," she said.
The NEA survey normally places Hawaii's salary at about the national average while the AFT's calculations with inflation puts Hawaii at just below the the national average, Lum said.
The AFT says raising pay will be necessary to stem teacher shortages caused by more lucrative salaries being offered to college graduates in other fields.
HSTA's Lum agrees. "That's why we fight so hard for teacher salary."
The HSTA is currently in negotiations with the state for a new contract. The current contract expires June 30.