(BIVN) – The day before returning to school campuses to prepare for the new school year, a handful of classroom teachers from across Hawaiʻi took part in a virtual news conference organized by their union, calling it an “unretirement party.”
The Hawaii State Teachers Association organized the event to celebrate the teachers who are postponing retirement as a result of the successful effort to raise the pay of experienced teachers at the State Legislature. HSTA said “state lawmakers and the governor approved extra funding to ensure that teachers are properly compensated for their years of service.”
“Instead of retirement parties that would have been held across the state this year,” the HSTA said.
Some of the teachers who participated in the news conference had planned to retire this year, “but instead will head back to schools tomorrow,” the HSTA said.
“Over the years, when the state was low on funds, veteran teachers were denied even small pay hikes,” Tui said. “So thousands of them are stuck in the middle of the salary scale. We call that salary compression. Their pay has remained low as more recently hired teachers received regular raises, so the legislature approved – and Governor Ige signed into law – a state budget that included more than $130 million dollars to fix salary compression. That means nearly 9,000 educators will see their salaries increase anywhere from $7,000 to $26,000 dollars in the weeks and months ahead. We are so grateful to the legislative leaders for making sure that this happens, after their original plans to fix salary compression were scuttled two and a half years ago when the pandemic struck.”
“The funds they approved for these teacher pay increases have caused experienced educators who are at retirement age to put off retirement and continue teaching, and those who plan to retire in the next few years now plan to keep teaching longer,” Tui said.
Joining HSTA president Osa Tui, Jr on the video conference were four teachers: Melissa Padilla of Campbell High School, Terry Holck with the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design, Mike Hino with Molokai Middle School, and Ashley Olson of Lahainaluna High School. Also appearing were State House Speaker Scott Saiki and House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke.