Teachers go door-to-door to urge voters to support surcharge to fund education

Opponents say the proposed constitutional amendment is poorly-written and vague.
Published: Oct. 7, 2018 at 10:42 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Teachers were going door-to-door on Saturday to try to drum up support for a constitutional amendment aimed at bolstering funding for Hawaii’s schools.

“When we knock on the door, we tell them that we are here to represent schools and that we know that every child in Hawaii deserves a right to a quality education,” said Deborah Bond-Upson, a founding member of Parents for Public Schools Hawaii.

The proposed constitutional amendment will go before voters in November’s general question.

The ballot question reads: “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?”

Supporters say the tax would only affect the wealthy.

But opponents argue the wording is too vague and the intent behind the amendment could change.

And with just one month left before the general election, both sides are taking their message to voters.

Cynthia Tong teaching social studies and U.S. history at Ewa Makai Middle School. She says low pay and unsuitable facilities make it nearly impossible for the state to retain qualified educators.

“Last year, when we got our new teacher, she didn’t have any furniture," Tong said.

“The teachers got together and donated furniture, a sofa, they donated a bed to her. My new teacher right next door from Oklahoma doesn’t make enough money so I bring her lunch.”

The Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, which opposes the proposed constitutional amendment, is trying to appeal to voters, too. It’s donated $600,000 to a Political Action Committee called Affordable Hawaii, which has launched a statewide campaign to defeat the amendment.

“This constitutional amendment is so vague that it could impact the cost of living the cost of doing business,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

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