Want more jobs? Give kids a better education.

Want better incomes? Give kids a better education.

Want to reduce crime? Give kids a better education.

Want people to be better stewards of our environment? Give kids a better education.

Makaha Elementary School hallway. 9 aug 2018

A Makaha Elementary School hallway.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Want people to live healthier lifestyles? Give kids a better education.

Want better voter knowledge and turn out? Give kids a better education.

If you want to give kids a better education, you need enough resources to run quality programs from pre-K through university level.

First and foremost you need to recruit and retain quality faculty in our schools. Unfortunately, a WalletHub.com study ranked Hawaii 51st out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in starting and median teacher salaries adjusted for cost of living. It says we are the worst place to be a teacher!

Therefore we have one of the highest teacher turnover rates in the nation, with roughly 50 percent of the state’s newly hired teachers leaving the profession within five years of being hired. We end up hiring unqualified “temporary” substitutes to fill over a thousand positions each year leaving students a full year without teachers who know much of anything about their subject matter say nothing of how to teach it.

Special Ed Needs

Special education is particularly hard hit. For example, the Waianae-Nanakuli complex last year hired 19 new SPED teachers. Of those 19 teachers, only one was qualified and certified to teach SPED.

So is it any surprise our public school students rank 47th in the nation in 9th grade to college completion? Only 59 percent of students with disabilities graduated on time in the 2016–2017 school year. Only 38 percent of English language learner students were on track to meet English language proficiency in 2016-2017. Only 14 percent of Native Hawaiian students statewide complete postsecondary education or training, according to data compiled by Kamehameha Schools.

We look to education to solve many societal problems, but education cannot improve society until society improves education. That requires more money. To those who think money is not the answer, they are partially right. It’s not the whole answer, but is a key part of the answer: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

If you treasure education, support the constitutional amendment to authorize the legislature to put a surcharge on real estate taxes to pull Hawaii to at least better than average. After all, don’t our keiki deserve it?

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About the Author

  • John Bickel
    John Bickel teaches high school history and American government. He has also taught at Chaminade University and Hawaii Pacific University. He is president of Americans for Democratic Action, Hawaii Chapter and serves on board of Progressive Democrats of Hawaii and the State Central Committee of the Democratic Party.