Thursday, April 5, 2001


At Waialae Elementary Charter School’s Kupuna Day last fall,
5-year-old Kaylin Noda spent time with her grandmother Ethel
Yamada. Though a teachers strike looms, Waialae and other
charter schools were preparing to open today.

Teachers at charter
schools not allowed
to strike

HSTA agrees that those teachers
don't work for the state

By Diana Leone

Many students, parents, employers, teachers, and education officials spent yesterday waiting to hear if a settlement between the teacher's union and the state had been reached.

But at Hawaii's charter schools, everyone planned for just another day of school as usual today.

That's because the Hawaii State Teachers Association and state have agreed that teachers working for charter schools -- even if they are HSTA members -- work for their particular school board, not the state.

"The HSTA told our teachers that they would not be participating in the strike and that they couldn't vote on it either," said Donna Estomago, principal of Lanikai Elementary, one of two state charter schools on Oahu.

In addition to Lanikai, the charter schools are Waialae Elementary on Oahu and Connections New Century School, Kanu O Ka 'Aina School, Waters of Life New Century School, and West Hawaii Explorations Academy, all on the Big Island. Arlene Lee, HSTA's coordinator of charter schools, confirmed that all six were to be open today, regardless of whether a strike was called for other schools. (Kanu O Ka 'Aina students are on spring break and will return Monday.)

"There shouldn't be picket lines at charter schools, though there might be informational sign-holding in the morning before school," Lee said.

Though not allowed to participate in a strike, teachers at all but one of the charter schools will benefit from whatever contract changes HSTA makes with the state, because their individual school boards have tied their teachers' salaries to that state pay scale, Lee said. Waters of Life School has a different contract with teachers.

For Lanikai Elementary's 24 HSTA members, news they could not strike "caught them off guard," said Estomago. "It's not that they want to go on strike, but they feel strongly about supporting the issue."

Since they have to be in class today, Lanikai teachers decided to show some solidarity with teachers at the two nearest public schools -- Kailua Elementary and Intermediate schools -- by providing refreshments to striking teachers at those schools.

"I hear from the teachers that it makes it a little hard on them (not being able to strike). They're trying to support their fellow teachers," said Heidi Smith, who is a member of the Lanikai school board and also works there as student activities coordinator.

On the other hand, Smith said, "It's nice for parents. They don't have to worry because they know their kids can come to school."

>> HSTA Web site
>> UHPA Web site
>> State Web site
>> Governor's strike Web site
>> DOE Web site

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