School's out for...Fridays?

Hawaii teacher furloughs will cut class time, not preparation days

So the state of Hawaii cannot balance it's budget or manage it's money properly. This state is worse than my 8 year old with her birthday money burning a hole in her pocket. It's ridiculous. The amount of revenue brought in my tourists, property taxes from outrageous home prices, and the prohibitive taxes imposed on the people of Hawaii slip through the hands of state officials like water through a sieve. And yet the roads remain full of car-eating potholes, the airport looks like something you'd find in a third world country, and the schools are now so far in the hole that the school year is being trimmed back by 17 days.

It's disgusting.

This whole issue bothers me on so many levels:

1.) If you read the article, you'll see that both the State DOE AND the teachers' union agreed not to use ANY of the professional development days as part of the 17 furlough days being imposed. Not one. Not. ONE. Disgusting.

2.) Rather than trim some of the fat that exists at the DOE (last I heard, the ratio of DOE employees to teachers is something like 13:1. WHY do we need 13 DOE employees sitting in an office somewhere, pushing paper, for every school teacher out there, busting their butts to educate our children??), the DOE is content to shift the burden of the shortfall on to the backs of working families. Child care is ridiculously expensive in this state and now those parents who both work have to come up with the money to cover 17 random Fridays throughout the school year. Disgusting.

3.) Rather than make things easier on parents AND teachers - who will both be feeling the economic impact of these furloughs - and schedule these furlough days in blocks either at the end of the school year or at breaks, the DOE and the teachers' union have decided to give everyone a bunch of 3 day weekends randomly throughout the school year. Had they cut the year short by 17 days, teachers would have been able to apply for summer jobs and simply start working two weeks earlier than they had planned. Summer programs could have been started 17 days early, thereby alleviating the stress placed on the backs of working families. But no...the DOE and HSTA (the teachers' union) had to make an already difficult situation even more difficult by choosing this route. Disgusting.

4.) The state of Hawaii now has the fewest days in school of any state in the union. After these 17 furlough days are implemented, students in Hawaii will go to school for a TOTAL of 162 days. And that includes at least 8 half days (where students get out at 12:30pm for parent-teacher conferences. According to the law, these days are actually classified as full days because the students are in school through lunch.). Disgusting.

Now, before you jump all over me and tell me that those teacher prep and waiver days are necessary and that I don't know what I'm talking about, let me give you my background: I am a K-12 certified public school teacher. I have taught in Colorado, California, Alaska, and now I sub in Hawaii. I know how important those prep days are. And I know - on the whole - how worthless those Professional Development days are. Waive some of them. Not all of them. But instead of forcing students and parents to shoulder the FULL burden of the furloughs, the teachers' union should have agreed to include a few of those PD days in the furlough. But they didn't. Disgusting.

The case for homeschooling was just made stronger by one decision by the Hawaii DOE and HSTA. And that will have ramifications for years to come. It is a sad day here for Hawaii's schoolchildren, teachers, and families.

(coming soon...Space Available travel adventures!)


- hfs


Curtis said...

I'm a 3rd generation Army brat though never stationed in Hawaii. I was there in July for two weeks for a navy project and heard the Lt Governor and the Governor as I drove from Honolulu to Makalapa as they explained that they had to close a $300 million budget deficit and elected to furlough state employees. Do you realize that this was the time frame that the radio in the afternoon also spoke of how Hawaii wants to spend $6 billion on some sort of railroad.

Ludicrous. Madness. Stupidity. Where do we get morons like this?

Homefront Six said...

Where do we get morons like this?

We elect them.

It's maddening, isn't it? I'm beyond mad on this one. It boggles my mind that a state that prides itself on "keiki first" as their motto for education would chuck it's own children under the proverbial school bus like this. It's just simply disgusting.

If my family's future were in ANY way predictable right now, I would pull my kids out of school immediately and begin homeschooling them.

Jen said...

There isn't enough Zoloft in the world right now for me to go back to homeschooling during this deployment. However, we'll be requesting either a curtailment or an ARD in time to move this summer. I won't subject the kids to another year in these schools.

Oh, the reason the DOE admin and the governor can make these decisions without losing sleep? I'm sure their kids don't go to Hawaii public schools. I'm sure that their kids go to Punahou, Iolani or the Kamehameha schools.

You're right. It's DISGUSTING.

Valerie Moore said...

Immediately after this announcement, the Director of Child and Youth Services for the Army in Hawaii left on vacation. Therefore, the Army has no answer to how they will respond to this situation...and they won't for another two weeks at least. Parents need to make plans and the director is on vacation! Count the days on the calendar--she won't even be back until two weeks before these furlough days begin. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Here in Kansas, (we are stationed at Fort Riley, although my 4 kids go to a local Catholic School) we go to school 190 days!

The local public school (no DOD schools on post here, they are under the public realm) only goes 180 days.

Homefront Six said...

I ran into a classmate of my daughter's today while we were out running errands. Come to find out, their class watched "Ratatouille" on Friday.


The school year is being trimmed back by 17 days and we're wasting time - valuable educational time - watching movies in class. I'm feeling even LESS regret (never had any to begin with) for taking my kids out of school for our SpaceA adventure to the mainland. I'd bet money that my kids learned more on that day while waiting in the SpaceA terminal at North Island than their classmates did in class that day.

Good grief.

"Keiki First" is the supposed slogan of our schools here.


Wendy said...

Some of the year round schools in Southern California don't go 180 days either because literally they don't have the space to have all the tracks of kids in the building at the same time and in order to cycle all four tracks through they had to shave off the 180 days...there is some loophole that allows them to do this "temporarily" until they expand the building or whatever...needless to say this has been going on for a very very long time with no end in sight! Not that anyone thinks CA is the budget balancing king.


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