HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New numbers show public school teachers in the islands get paid much less than their colleagues who live in other localities with high costs of living.
The Hawaii State Teachers Association presented the data to the state Board of Education on Tuesday.
Union officials said a Hawaii teacher holding a bachelor's degree with at least 10 years of experience gets about $15,000 less than that same teacher would in mainland districts.
"When I first saw these numbers, it made me both angry and sad at the same time," said Corey Rosenlee, president of HSTA.
Rosenlee and a handful of teachers urged the BOE to join the union in advocating at the state Capitol to increase education funding and improve teacher recruitment and retention.
"Of all the new teachers hired at my school back in 1997, I am the only one who's remained," said Rebecca Hadley-Schlosser, a special education teacher at Maili Elementary School.
"I have a second job in order to be able to make my mortgage and my student loan payment and that means I can't stay after school and help students who want my help," said David Negaard, an English teacher at Baldwin High School on Maui.
In addition, data shows more Hawaii teachers are voluntarily quitting their jobs for better opportunities.
In the 2010-2011 school year, 529 educators left the field. In 2015-2016, that number jumped to 781.
"The problem is getting worse every single year," said Rosenlee. "Fewer teachers are going into the profession and more teachers are leaving the profession."
To make matters worse, Rosenlee says Hawaii is getting so desperate for teachers, it's now hiring graduates straight out of high school to fill vacancies.
"Our keiki deserve more and they shouldn't have someone who's only qualification is that they have a high school diploma," he said.
View the full presentation here.