Local Connection: Hawaii's Teacher Shortage

Local Connection: Hawaii's Teacher Shortage

The state teachers' union raised the alarm last week about the increasing numbers of educators who are leaving Hawaii — some to pursue the same profession on the mainland.

It's long been an issue but it is clearly reaching a crisis stage with 411 teachers resigning and leaving Hawaii last year, compared to 266 five years ago.

These valuable educators have given up trying to keep up with our cost of living. Their leaving is a real threat to the future of our state, which needs a vibrant educational system to prepare generations for the future.

The HSTA says this is why voters should approve a constitutional amendment that puts a new tax on investment property to pay for schools and higher teacher salaries.

But pay alone is not the issue.

This brain drain is happening despite decent raises for teachers approved recently. Over the current four year contract teachers salaries will rise about 14 percent.

The cost of living out-migration affects every profession. And the biggest culprit is the ridiculous cost of housing.

Hawaii needs an affordable housing initiative like nothing ever done before. Thousands and thousands of affordable homes within the next few years. And that's what voters should be focused on this year.

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