Hawaii TEA Party Offers to Coordinate Statewide Volunteers, Raise Funds and Contract Furloughed Teachers To Keep Hawaii Schools Open
by Marc Hodges
Declining global and Hawaii economies have resulted in a budget shortfall for Hawaii State government. The Hawaii State Department of Education (DoE), arguably the nation’s most centralized and top-heavy public school system with one of the lowest-performing student records nationwide, was ordered to cut its budget accordingly.
Last week, the DoE, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, and the Hawaii Government Employees Association worked together to avoid cutting the DoE’s massive central bureaucracy by furloughing all frontline classroom teachers in Hawaii’s public schools for 17 days for each of the next two years.
In response to this failure of big government-union management that places the burden squarely on the shoulders of Hawaii’s students, frontline teachers and working families, Hawaii TEA Party President Marc Hodges stepped up today with a private offer to lessen the impact on the public.
In a letter sent today to Hawaii’s Governor, and the leaders of the State Legislature, the DoE and the relevant unions, Hodges said the Hawaii TEA Party is available to coordinate statewide community volunteer efforts and private fundraising to keep Hawaii schools open and bring furloughed teachers back into the classroom where they belong.
In order to do this, Hodges is asking the state and the unions to waive contract terms and regulations that may prohibit furloughed teachers from returning to work under private contract and to streamline approval processes so community volunteers can be mobilized quickly and effectively.
Hodges said today;
“The decision by big government and union leaders to furlough teachers instead of cutting the top-heavy DoE administration appears to be a cynical attempt to justfiy raising the general excise tax by 1%. Given how much the DoE wastes on administration and overhead, it would be far cheaper for the taxpayers to staff these schools directly.
The big government option has failed. It’s time to dismantle the DoE and move school funds and school control to local communities where the funds can be raised from and accountable to the parents and channeled directly to the teachers.
In the meantime, it looks like the people will have to stand up and solve this furlough problem ourselves.”
Hodges’ letter to the Governor and other leaders is posted below:
September 29, 2009
TO: The Honorable Linda Lingle, Governor, State of Hawaii, via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Colleen Hanabusa, Senate President, Hawaii State Senate, via e-mail to: senhanabusa@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Senator Fred Hemmings, Senate Minority Leader, Hawaii State Senate via e-mail senhemmings@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Rep. Calvin K.Y. Say, Speaker of the House, Hawaii House of Representatives via e-mail to: repsay@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Rep. Lynn Finnegan, House Minority Leader, Hawaii House of Representatives via e-mail to: repfinnegan@Capitol.hawaii.gov
Patricia Hamamoto, Superintendent, Hawaii Department of Education via e-mail to: BOE_Hawaii@notes.k12.hi.us
Wil Okabe, President, Hawaii State Teachers Association via fax to (808) 839-7106
Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto, President, Hawaii Government Employee Association via e-mail to: email@example.com
SUBJECT: Hawaii TEA Party Stands Ready to Help Offset Impacts of Teacher Furloughs
The decline in Hawaii’s economy and state tax revenues have necessitated corresponding cuts to public programs. There are plenty of unnecessary government programs available to cut. However, instead of cutting the Department of Education (DoE)’s singularly over-large central bureaucracy as appropriate, the DoE and the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA), have determined to meet the DoE budget reduction mandate by, in part, furloughing public school teachers for 17 days each year.
The government option has failed and the burden is being thrown onto students, frontline teachers and families. In addition to bearing job losses while having to pay the already increasing taxes that the Hawaii legislature is pursuing, Hawaii families now have to bear the additional financial burden of providing child care or suitable private instruction for their children on the furlough days. Plus, our teachers are out of work for 17 days.
These are major challenges affecting tens of thousands of families and our economy. Hawaii deserves fresh, cooperative solutions. Hawaii TEA Party is ready to help the students, families and teachers affected by these furloughs. The Party is available to provide the following services at no cost to the taxpayer:
- 1. Provide statewide coordination of community volunteers to serve as skeleton staffing at public schools on furlough days so students have a safe place to go and learn without additional cost to the parents;
- 2. Provide statewide coordination of private fundraising to offset school fund losses;
- 3. Contract, using such raised and other private funds as appropriate, furloughed teachers to return to the classrooms on a part-time basis on the furlough days so community volunteers have guidance from teachers and teachers can recover at least some of their lost income while continuing to serve the students and families they were hired to serve in the first place.
In order to do so, we are asking for cooperation from the relevant agencies and unions, including:
- 1. Waiver of state-union contract terms and/or state guidelines which prevent HSTA teachers from volunteering and/or working for pay under separate private contract in the public classrooms on furlough days;
- 2. Waiver of state-union contract terms and/or state guidelines related to minimum salaries and staffing at public schools;
- 3. Waiver of state-union contract terms and/or state guidelines related to minimum school administrative staffing;
- 4. Waiver of criminal and sex offender record check fees for processing of community volunteer applications;
- 5. Assignment of a Deputy Attorney General and a liaison from each of the DoE, the HSTA and the HGEA to serve with Hawaii TEA Party officers on a Rapid Response Team to provide fast solutions to the regulatory and procedural challenges that this unprecedented operation will entail; and
- 6. Such other assistance and cooperation as may be needed.
Our Hawaii families, students and teachers need action now to solve this problem, and they won’t be alone. Macroeconomic projections indicate continued serious budget challenges in all state programs, challenges that will affect everyone in our state.
Stop-gap approaches will not be effective. Real solutions are needed.
We’re ready to help.
The first furlough is mere weeks away. I look forward to your timely response.
Hawaii TEA Party, Inc.