It’s not just that Hawaii can’t hire enough teachers. Schools also can’t convince them to stay

It’s not just that Hawaii can’t hire enough teachers. Schools also can’t convince them to stay

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In 2013, Hawaii schools hired 907 teachers.

Five years later, just 467 of them remained in Hawaii public school classrooms.

That’s a five-year retention rate of just 51 percent — down from 54 percent the previous year — and underscores the growing challenges the state Education Department is facing in not just attracting teachers, but keeping them.

The figures, included in a new report that will be presented to the state Board of Education on Thursday, also come as the state scrambles to find new sources of funding for education.

The teachers union has said that higher teacher salaries are needed to boost teacher retention and address the hundreds of teacher vacancies at schools each year.

And they’re pointing to several analyses that found Hawaii’s teacher salary is the lowest in the nation, when the state’s high cost of living is taken into account.

Worth noting: Of 1,114 teachers who resigned from Hawaii schools in the 2017-18 school year, 423 (or about 38 percent) said they were leaving Hawaii, the DOE said. The second biggest reason for leaving: Retirement.

Meanwhile, in the 2018-19 school year, there were 521 teacher vacancies at Hawaii public schools.

That’s down slightly from the year before, but way up from five years ago, when there 367 vacancies at schools.

The startling vacancy numbers continue despite broad efforts to bolster recruitment. The state has extended its recruiting efforts across the mainland and even to international sites, has worked with Hawaii universities to encourage more students to pursue education, and has expanded alternative pathways to licensure.

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