Bill upholding increased public school hours advances

Bill upholding increased public school hours advances

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)

Amy Perruso teaches 25 ninth-graders in her Wednesday U.S. History class. She said class sizes will explode when school hours at public high schools jump from 990 a year to 1,080. She said teacher hours will remain the same but students will need more class time, so adjustments will have to be made.

"One thousand eighty, we're looking at class sizes, like 35 to 40 for our school. In other schools it'll be bigger, " she said.

Senate Bill 822 originally removed the additional hours but lawmakers re-inserted them. They then changed the term "student instructional hours" to "student hours." 

"It's a significant difference because sometimes we over-categorize learning, as to just like the time that you sit down reading a book and answering questions" said DOE Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe.

The DOE and HSTA like that schools will now be able to decide how to spend the longer day. It could be used for excursions or community service, not exclusively class so class sizes shouldn't grow by much..

"It takes away everybody else telling schools, 'And this is what should happen during that school day. We believe as professionals, that's the right call," HSTA vice president Joan Lewis said. 

Perruso and other teachers we spoke with fear more hours will lead to teacher and student burnout.

"It just leads to professional and educational exhaustion," she said.

Hui for Excellence in Education, a statewide group that lobbies for better public education, feels any added time helps students.

"It's not the only thing, but it is a factor that contributes to better outcomes," Cheri Nakamura said.

Perruso believes more school time reaches a point where it lessens learning and more money wouldn't change her mind.

"If you said, 'We're going to lengthen your school day by an hour, but we will increase your pay by 1 percent or 2 percent.' Most teachers would laugh and walk away from the profession because we're already stretched past capacity," she said.

Unless the extra hours requirement is taken out of the bill, the school day will be longer starting in 2016.

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